Chippendale Hanging Shelves – Part Three

The two small drawers are made entirely of mahogany and constructed in keeping with period practices. I glued the drawer stops in place, cleaned the shelves up, polished them and attached the Dutch drop handles to the drawers.

The finished shelves.

The proportions of the ‘Chinese fence’ shelves I have seen have varied considerably, but from the outset, I wanted to copy precisely Chippendale’s dimensions as notated in the Director, Plate 112. When preparing the components for these shelves, my initial impression – and one that perturbed me during the construction – was that the shelves would be disproportionate and maladroit (the proportions and perspective of some of Chippendale’s drawings are notoriously cockeyed). However, now that the shelves are completed and suspended on a wall, I am perfectly content with them.

An unexpected bounty this morning was when the curtains were drawn back and, for the first time, the daylight passing through the shelves described fascinating geometric shadows across the walls.

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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9 Responses to Chippendale Hanging Shelves – Part Three

  1. Tico Vogt says:

    Quite beautiful, mate. Keyhole slots for attaching to the wall?


  2. Robert R Lindh,Western Pa.USA. says:

    As is always the case……………..Another outstanding bit of craftsmanship!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. Jack Plane says:

    Thanks chaps! The shelves are suspended on brass picture plates screwed to the backs of the top and bottom shelves – the same as the ones I made for the pair of girandoles



  4. Shannon says:

    Truly this is one of the more beautiful pieces you have showcased on this blog. I admit that I just skipped over these designs in Chippendale’s book without a second thought and now I can see what an error that was. This style of shelf is on my list now. Thanks for bringing it to light.


  5. Federico Mena Quintero says:

    Beautiful piece! I’ll have to build one soon; it’s so perfect for a certain spot in the walls.


  6. Pingback: Chippendale Hanging Shelves – Redux | Pegs and 'Tails

  7. Kirk Rush says:

    It seems that that with all the nooks and crannies in the “Chinese fence”, the piece would be time consuming as well as a chore to finish. How do you deal with something like this?


    • Jack Plane says:

      In this day and age, instant gratification doesn’t come quickly enough for many who build their furniture with an Allen key. However, I enjoyed every moment of making these shelves (only lack of available wall space prevented me from making a pair). The process was indeed time-consuming, but at no time did I think it a “chore”.

      Although the internal surfaces of the fence pattern sides weren’t built up to the same level as the external ones, they weren’t any less important a part of the process and required as much dedication to achieve the correct appearance.

      My enjoyment comes through getting it all right – which makes the procedure exciting and more than tolerable.



  8. Tim Raleigh says:

    Beautiful piece, it looks perfectly balanced and delightful with the “crockery” on the shelves.


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