In Feature Articles, Furniture, Projects, Traditional Furniture

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traditional secretary opening spreadAs I watched my daughter grow, I waited patiently for more than a decade to build this secretary. This year both she and I were ready for this ultimate heirloom.

by Troy Sexton
from the August 2000 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine

Back in 1989 a local sawmill owner passed away in these parts and his family went about auctioning off all his personal possessions, including a large quantity of lumber. Before the auction I went through the wood and found some 20″-wide curly maple that apparently had been milled in 1954. I wanted that wood, and so I went to the auction with $1,000 in my pocket ready to bid, but also ready to be disappointed.

When the curly maple lot came up, the auctioneer put one leg up on that pile of wood, spit out a huge wad of tobacco and said the words that would lead to the lumber purchase of a lifetime.

“Who wants to bid on this pile of oak?” he says.

Well, a few minutes and $200 later that pile of the most amazing and wide curly maple was mine. For more than 10 years that lumber has sat in my shop. I’ve used a couple small pieces for important projects, but mostly I’ve been saving it for something very special: a drop-lid secretary for my daughter.

Now I’ve been a professional cabinetmaker for a long time, and have built just about every piece of reproduction furniture imaginable. But I’ve got to tell you that some aspects of this project were a real challenge. The beaded mullioned doors require a lot of tricky cuts that are dangerous if not executed carefully. If you’re squeamish, I’d recommend you make the mullions flat instead of beaded. Most of all, don’t get into a hurry with this project. It’s going to take you a lot longer than you expect.

Download the PDF below to read the rest of the article, complete with drawings and cutlist:

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