Charles P. Limbert’s furniture designs are best thought of as American Arts & Crafts pieces that went to finishing school in Europe. Like no other furniture maker of his time, Limbert was able to combine the massive straight forms of American pieces from the Stickleys and progressive design from Europe. The result is straightforward furniture that has a certain flair to it, a subtle curve or a cutout.
This waste basket is a replica of the #255 Waste Paper Box found in Booklet No. 112, one of the many catalogs his company produced after the turn of the century. The proportions of this can are identical to the original. The joinery is simple and sturdy, much like that I’ve seen on other Limbert pieces. The only change I’ve made in the appearance is that I used cherry instead of quartersawn white oak.
This project can be built with a table saw, a router and a few hand tools. Construction is straightforward. The panels are glued into 1/8″-deep grooves in the corner posts. The bottom is screwed to the sides through cleats.
Begin by gluing up any panels you’ll need for the sides and trimming all the other parts to size. When your panels are ready, cut out the handle and the small lift on the bottom of each. I did this by first making a plywood template of the cutout and the arch. I made the template by making plunge cuts into a piece of plywood with my table saw, using the fence to control where the edges were. You also can make the template with a jigsaw.
I then used a pattern-cutting bit in my router to cut the two shapes. When your panels are complete, turn your attention to the posts.
The most important aspect of the posts is to make sure you center the 1/8″-deep by 1/2″-wide grooves that receive the panels. I made the stop cuts using a dado stack in my table saw and then squared up the tops using a chisel. When your posts are milled, sand everything and begin assembly. The best way to go about this is to first glue up two side assemblies consisting of two posts and a side panel. When those are dry, glue the two remaining sides into the assemblies and clamp.
Now attach the bottom. When you screw the cleats to the sides and to the bottom piece, be sure to make the screw holes in the cleats in the shape of an elongated oval. This will allow for wood movement. Disassemble everything and then finish. I used Moser’s Light Sheraton Mahogany dye (available from Woodworker’s Supply 800-645-9292, item #W13304, $11.90 for four ounces of powder). Then I added a coat of clear finish, sanded it and applied a coat of warm brown glaze, which is available at professional paint stores. After allowing that to dry overnight, I added two more coats of a clear finish. PW
Christopher Schwarz is a senior editor for Popular Woodworking.