Build a Charleston Chest-on-Chest

This beautiful and challenging piece is offered as a great distance learning option.

Here’s a list of some of what you’ll learn:

  • Constructing the upper case with chamfered corners, fret, and cockbeading. This part of this complex case fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. The case sides, case top and bottom, chamfered corners, drawer dividers, and top rail must all mesh together precisely. The fret on the corners is “let in,” or recessed, into the corners themselves. This is advanced case construction; in fact, the case without the scrolled pediment is a challenge in and of itself.

  • Constructing a complex, pierced pediment. Unlike most casework with a gooseneck, the crown and pediment are constructed separately from the upper case. The crown moldings, pediment, and carvings are applied to a separate poplar framework and the entire assembly (poplar framework, pierced pediment, gooseneck, crown and carvings) is later attached to the upper case. Yet the dimensions (and outline)of the pediment assembly and the upper case must match perfectly if they are to mesh. This includes the two forty-five degree chamfered corners. When the pediment assembly is set in place on the upper case, the two appear seamlessly as one.

  • Creating fine fretwork. Unlike the fretwork found on many furniture pieces of the period, the fret on this piece is very thin and delicate. The detail on the horizontal figure 8 fret is especially fine and it’s critical to avoid cutting the individual strings too wide; otherwise they will appear thick and clumsy. I’ll share the methods that I use for re-creating this beautiful detail to perfection and cutting it efficiently.

  • Gooseneck molding with applied Greek key. Like the fret, the ogee gooseneck molding is also very fine, not the wide, heavy molding associated with earlier pieces. Because the molding is so narrow there is no room to make adjustments for error. Notice how the Greek key follows the ogee molding up the gooseneck curve. The curved Greek key and the curved ogee molding fit perfectly alongside each other. Yet the S curves of these two elements are not the same curve; one is an outside curve and the other is an inside curve. I’ll demonstrate methods for creating a perfect match between the two.

  • Also, notice how the curve of the Greek key tapers away into the corners as it flows smoothly into the top of the cornice. I’ll share the techniques that I use for achieving a perfect fit.

  • Layout and cutting Greek key. Notice how the horizontal Greek key starts and ends on a full, complete block. Not a partial block or an oversized block.

  • Carving the classic Charleston pineapple and rosettes that crown this fantastic piece. Charleston patrons and furniture makers loved the pineapple and used stylized examples over doorways, atop gate posts and furniture pediments. I’ll share the step-by-step on how to carve this beautiful finial.

Cost for Distance Learning Class:  $4,500

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See additional Charleston Chest photos here

“Lonnie, your 35+ years of experience shows in your teaching.
This was the best woodworking class I’ve ever taken.”–Ed F., Woodworker in Arkansas