Hidden compartments in furniture have a long history. Although not exclusive to secretaries, the secretary and desk forms seem to be the most common. But you don’t have to take my word for it - just ask Mark Firley at The Furniture Record.
Editor's note: This is a guest blog post from Charles Murray, an experienced period furniture maker based in central Ohio and instructor at the Artisans Guild.
Not every molding that you see on a period piece of furniture was made with a plane. The use of scratch stocks for making small shallow moldings has been around for centuries and the practice continues today. After all, if you just need five or ten feet of molding of a small profile, there is no more economical or safer way to produce it. Although it’s an easy and simple way of making moldings, many woodworkers are not familiar with this practice.
It’s always a good time when two or more woodworkers get together. It’s even better when you enjoy the same type of woodworking; for me, that's using hand tools, especially hand planes. One weekend in March was better than most since I got to teach students how the Stanley 45 and 55 blades cut, how to sharpen them, and how to use them.
Editor's note: This is a guest blog post from Charles Murray, an experienced period furniture maker based in central Ohio and instructor at the Artisans Guild. Charles's apprentice, Nate, volunteered to photograph and share the results of his practice session.
The foundation of quality woodworking is practice; that, along with sharp tools. In cutting dovetails, sawing straight and to the line is paramount to getting a tight fitting joint. Make sure your saw is properly sharpened and the saw plate is straight before you start. All of your tools must be sharp - dull tools cause the majority of problems for anyone cutting dovetails.
The Stanley 45 has slightly different abilities when compared to the 55. At it's core, it can cut grooves, rabbets, dadoes, tongue and groove, beads, slit, and sash. Only with add-on cutters could the 45 being to cut additional decorative profiles. Here are a few examples of the Stanley 45 in action.
Here are a few examples of profiles cut with the Stanley 55 combination plane.
In 1899 the Stanley 55 Combination Plane cost $16 (around $487 today, adjusted for inflation). It contained 55 cutters (hence its name), but an additional 41 cutters were available for sale. Since it performed as a plow, dado, rabbet, filletster and match plane, a beading and center beading plane, a sash plane, a slitting plane, and a mounding plane, Stanley said it could replace a full line of “Fancy Planes.
Using a single hand plane, you can take rough sawn lumber from the lumber yard and make it ready for furniture. Leave your car parked in the garage, your ear protectors hung on the hook, and the electrons in the wall. You could even do this in an apartment and Mrs. Robodello, the neighbor below you, wouldn’t even know.