William & Mary Chest
by Chuck Bender
Early in my career I met an avid antiques collector whose focus was objects from the William & Mary period. Like many people, my first reaction was, “That stuff with those big, ugly ball feet?” Under his guidance I began studying various periods of furniture and their corresponding decorative and fine arts. Learning about the furniture, metalware, paintings and other decorative objects from the periods surrounding William & Mary helped me to understand how crucial and pivotal this period is to furniture design and construction.
The more I looked at Pilgrim, Queen Anne and Chippendale furniture, the more I began to like the sheer simplicity of the William & Mary designs, including those “big, ugly ball feet.” After looking at countless examples, I no longer consider them big or ugly, and have come to appreciate the variety of designs.
The best thing about making a William & Mary chest of drawers is that it provides great skill-building exercises for the novice woodworker, yet enough challenge for an experienced builder. Whether you make ball feet (sometimes referred to as bun feet) is entirely up to you. This chest looks just as good with bracket feet as it does with bun feet.
The carcase is made up of two end frames with flat, floating panels that are joined with a few structural members. Once the case is together there are applied mouldings that dress it up. The dovetailed drawers are supported using an early method – side-hung drawer runners. You may not have tried this technique before, but give it a whirl – you may come to like it more than other traditional methods.
Blog: Learn how to quickly clean up cove mouldings made on the table saw.
Video: Watch as the author uses a jointer to remove sticking waste on his stiles.
Video: Watch Glen D. Huey make cove mouldings at the table saw.
Article: Read more about the William & Mary period in the April 2010 issue (#182).
SketchUp Model: Download a free 3d SketchUp Model of this project
From April 2014 issue, #210