Greene & Greene Furniture – Start Here

In the 15 years Dale Barnard has been making Greene & Greene furniture for clients, the style has experienced an explosion in popularity. Today woodworkers and informed furniture buyers recognize and love the look that Charles and Henry Greene pioneered, but Dale says that when he first spoke with a customer about it, “No one knew what this stuff was.”

Fortunately, the client did know. He paid for Dale’s first two trips to California to take measurements at Gamble House and Thorsen House – the epicenters of Greene & Greene furniture. At Thorsen House, Dale discovered a wall cabinet that would become one of the signature pieces that he teaches students to make. I spoke with Dale last week about the ins and outs of this cabinet. It’s now available as a project in our store, and there are some really interesting aspects to the build.

The Wall Cabinet – A Starting Point for Greene & Greene Furniture

What to know:

1. Dale has been teaching this project for 5 years in his Indiana classroom, so he can confidently say that it’s a very reasonable starting point for beginners.

2. It’s also terrific for woodworkers at more advanced stages, because it includes Dale’s stained glass work. Dale is well-known for his artistry with glass. Everyone can learn something new with this build.

Greene & Greene furniture often features the "cloud lift" seen in the central pane of this cabinet door.

Greene & Greene furniture often features the “cloud lift” seen in the central pane of this cabinet door.

3. The design is based on a larger (horizontally longer) cabinet at Thorsen House. As such, you can modify the design and easily maintain its authenticity. The key, says Dale, is to make sure you extend the cabinet horizontally more than vertically. One way to do that is by making a door like the one at left, with a double cloud lift in the center and symmetrical right and left panels.

4. You can also modify the depth of the cabinet. Just be aware that the top is cut from one solid piece of wood, and is quite wide – so make sure you have a suitable piece of lumber.

5. Gauge blocks will come in handy for completing the work. There are a number of 1/8-inch offsets throughout the project. Ever tried to measure 1/8 of an inch repeatedly, using only a tape measure or ruler? It gets somewhat tedious. Dale recommends a set of brass gauge blocks like the one in the photo below.

Dale Barnard recommends a set of brass gauge blocks for completing Greene & Greene furniture projects.

Dale Barnard recommends a set of brass gauge blocks for completing Greene & Greene furniture projects.

By the time Dale visited Thorsen House, it had been converted to a college fraternity. We are lucky that such beautiful furniture has survived for our enjoyment today! Buy yourself a copy of the new DVD, and get started.

Dan Farnbach

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Woodworking Daily
Dan Farnbach

About Dan Farnbach

Dan apprenticed and worked in two professional shops during the years after college. But sweeping shop floors only goes so far toward learning woodworking. These days Dan is online editor for Popular Woodworking, and is learning new skills every day. He divides his time between Boston and Maine.

3 thoughts on “Greene & Greene Furniture – Start Here

    1. Dan FarnbachDan Farnbach Post author

      Hi DanGar,
      It is my new favorite tool!
      Since writing that blog post, I also discovered this article in our magazine archives. I highly recommend reading it, to see everything you need to know about low-angle versus high-angle.
      Also, if you search “spokeshave” on our website search box (upper right) you’ll find some good posts.

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