Recreating Studley

Jim Moon produced a faithful replica of this iconic cabinet, with a decorative touch or two of his own.

by Donald C. Williams
pages 34-38

In the world of historic furniture-making, Jim Moon casts a long shadow. He is not only a highly respected furniture maker but also has the remarkable output of someone who works hard and fast.

His entree into serious woodworking was as a medical student (he’s now a surgeon) four decades ago, when he wanted to give a tall-case clock as a gift. But, he recalls, “there weren’t many good antiques in South Dakota, and certainly none I could afford, so if I wanted one, I had to make it myself.”

He befriended a cabinetmaker who sold him the walnut to make his clock and mentored him in making it. Eventually, Moon bought most of that cabinetmaker’s machinery and embarked on a lifetime of woodworking with an output that can justly be described as nonpareil and prodigious. The Moon home is a gallery of his exquisite work, and he jokes that he might need to start rotating the pieces between the living spaces and the attic if he makes any more.

As Jim’s craft gravitated toward handwork alongside his machine work, he caught the incurable affliction of collecting (mostly vintage) hand tools. His passion for plow planes resulted in acquiring, restoring and eventually making hundreds of them.

Those projects integrated high-precision hand and machine work in exotic materials, and I can attest that gawking at his guest room/plane exhibit hall is a marvelous and humbling experience.

This foundation made him unusually well-prepared to replicate Henry O. Studley’s iconic tool cabinet – but with just a 1988 poster of the 19th-century piano maker’s cabinet as his guide, he didn’t think he possessed enough detailed information to undertake the project. So the idea sat simmering on his back burner for decades, unstirred until the summer of 2015.

Article: The 2016 SAPFM annual publication, American Period Furniture, has a pictorial on this project.
Read: An excerpt from “Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley” on Lost Art Press’s website.
Book: Read “Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley” (Lost Art Press).
In Our Store: “Creating Historic Furniture Finishes” by Donald C. Williams.

From the December 2017 issue, #236