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For the last two years I’ve been building six-board chests in a variety of ways as part of my research into the forms of furniture that have remained basically unchanged for centuries.

This summer and fall, I’ve begun teaching workshops on building this furniture form to woodworkers in Connecticut and North Carolina as a way to continue this research.

I think that a lot of my questions about this form of furniture can be answered by building it again and again. By building it with others. By trying odd and sometimes weird ways of approaching the work. By limiting your tool kit. By limiting your time. By opening the minds of the students to hundreds of years of furniture history as told through six boards.

Today we started building another 11 of these chests with some 13’-long boards of poplar that were 15” to 18” wide. With the help of Roy Underhill and assistant Bill Anderson, we all made some excellent progress on the chest.

The good news is that we have three days to build the chest, so we will have time to paint the chests and even scratch decorative geometric patterns in the chests or do some gouge work.

The bad news: The City Tap is too close to the school.

— Christopher Schwarz

If you want to read more about six-board chests, I have a new article in the November 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine on building this important historical form. You can order the issue here in

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  • Jonathan Szczepanski


  • ramone

    When I was stationed in Philadelphia (68&69) I rented a one room loft above the owner’s shop, on pine near tenth. This old fella from “the old country” who happened also to own scads of apartments and buildings throughout that part of the city, spent hours of every day building fabulous reproductions of antique furniture. I often wondered what ever happened to this fabulous artisan, he was just a wonderful and colrful MAN. I’m proud to have known him, and when-ever I hunker-down in my work-shop for the day, I think of him and his awesome talent, and it still does my heart good to remeber the guy and the fact that we liked each other, and he was always PROD to show me his “work”. He had no power tools, and made fantastic reproductions….Just a great memory for me…RJM

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