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Stickley, Gustav, 1858-1942. / Craftsman homes

Cabinet work for home workers and students who wish to learn the fundamental principles of construction,   pp. 169-184

Page 174

                           are    not  hard
                           enough    to    give
                           satisfactory     re-
                           stilts  when   used
                           for    the making
                           of furniture.    Of
                                   first  men-
                           tioned, white oak
                           is unquestionably
                           the best for cab-
                           inetmaking      and,
                           indeed,   it   is a
                           wood     as     well
                           suited     to    the
                           Craftsman      style
                           of    furniture  as
                           the     Spanish
                           mahogany was to
                           the French, Eng-
                           lish and Colonial
                           furniture  of   the
                           eighteenth      cen-
                           tury.      Spanish
FIGURE TWELVE<SMALL STAND              is very
FOR USE IN A BEDROOM,      mahogany
                           rare now and the
modern mahogany, or baywood, is very little
harder than whitewood and so cannot be con-
sidered   particularly desirable as a cabinet
wood.     The old mahogany was a hard, close-
grained, fine-textured wood that lent itself
naturally to the slender lines, graceful curves
and delicate modeling of the eighteenth cen-
tury styles.    In addition to this the wood
itself was so treated as to ripen to the ut-
most the quality of rich and mellow color-
ing, which was one of its distinctive charac-
teristics.  The boards were kept for months,
and some of them for years, in the court-
yards of the cabinet shops, where sun and
rain could give them the mellowness of age.
Then the finished pieces were treated with
linseed oil and again put out into the sun-
shine to oxidize, this process being repeated
until the wood gained just the required depth
of color and perfection of finish.  The slow-
ness of this process and the care and skill
required    to produce the results  that  were
aimed at makes fine mahogany furniture al-
most an impossibility today, except to      the
craftsman who may be able to afford selected
pieces of this rare and almost extinct wood,
and who has sufficient leisure and love of the
work to treat it according to the methods of
the old cabinetmakers.   Even then it is not
suitable for the plain massive furniture that
we show here as models for home workers.
The severely plain structural forms that we
are  considering now  demand   a   wood of
strong fiber and markings, rich in color, and
possessing  a  sturdy friendly quality that
seems to invite use and wear.   The strong
straight lines and plain surfaces of the furni-
ture follow  and  emphasize the  grain and
growth of the wood,   drawing attention to
instead of destroying the natural character
that belonged to the growing tree.  As the
use of oak would naturally demand a form
that is  strong and primitive, the harmony
that exists between the form and construc-
tion of the furniture and the wood of which
it is made is complete and satisfying.
  We will then assume that oak is the wood
that would naturally be selected Œby the home
cabinetmaker and for large surfaces such as
table-tops and large panels, quarter-sawn oak
is deemed preferable to plain-sawn, as the first
method, which makes the cut parallel with
the medullary  rays that  form the peculiar
wavy lines seen in quarter-sawn oak, not only
brings out all the natural beauty of the mark-
ings, but makes the wood structurally strong-
er, finer in grain and less liable to check and
warp than when it is straight-sawn.    Care
should then be taken to see that the wood
is thoroughly dried, otherwise the best work
might easily he ruined by the checking, warp-
ing, or   splitting of the lumber. Quarter-
sawn oak is the hardest of all woods to dry
and  requires  the longest time, so that it
would hardly be advisable for the amateur
cabinetmaker to attempt to use other than
selected kiln-dried wood that is ready for the
saw and plane.

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