What is it With Southern Joinery?
Since Bob Lang and I returned from our scouting trip for potential book projects at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, I have had the opportunity to build a few southern projects. A couple or projects came from our book “Furniture in the Southern Style” and the project on which I’m working now was a piece taken from our “potential” list – pieces that didn’t make it in the book.
Interestingly, two of the projects have had quirks when it came to joinery. The lady’s desk I built in the November 2011 issue (#193) had double-blind dovetails where the case sides joined the top. (Read more about double-blind dovetails.) That is generally, at least in pieces that I have reproduced or researched, a half-blind or through dovetail.
The piece I’m working on now – I can’t tell you exactly what it is quite yet – has a twist in how a rabbet is cut. A rabbet joint is a rather easy joint to make. A two-step cut at my table saw and the joint is all but made.
Evidently, that was not good enough for the Piedmont woodworker that originally built this piece sometime between 1740 and 1780. What he did was miter the top edge of the side piece, then matched that profile with the top piece by adding a couple of extra steps. What was ingenious in his design was how any end grain was hidden from show surfaces. I’m sure that is what he intended.
I have not seen this before, but I can tell you I will keep it in my bag of joinery tricks. You never know when you may need it.
If you’re searching for a book on joinery, here is one I recommend: “Joinery Tips & Techniques – How to Cut Perfect Wood Joints Every Time.” By the Editors of Popular Woodworking.