A George II Ash Bureau – Part Six

In relation to A George II Ash Bureau – Part Five, a reader asked, “I don’t understand the mitre/cleat situation.  I don’t see a mitre anywhere in the pictures. Is this an english-to-english translation error?”

Some falls had two cleats which were mitred at both ends (fig. 1), but on the ash bureau I’m copying, the mitres were/are on the upper corners of the fall/cleats only, as in figures 2 & 3.

Geo_II_mahogany_bureau_c1750_01a

Fig. 1. Double-mitred cleats, circa 1750. (Richard Gardner)

Geo_III_mahogany_bureau_c1790_01a

Fig. 2. Single-mitred cleats, circa 1790.

giiab_180913_22a

Fig. 3. Single-mitred cleats.

Some falls had cleats at either end and along the top edge (fig. 4) and some were framed with cleats on all four sides (fig. 5).

Geo_III_mahogany_bureau_c1761_01a

Fig. 4. Fall with three cleats, circa 1761. (Christie’s)

Geo_II_oak_bureau_c1740_01a

Fig. 5. Fall with four cleats, circa 1740.

Jack Plane

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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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8 Responses to A George II Ash Bureau – Part Six

  1. Greg Forster says:

    Fig #1 double mitre cleats;
    seems that would create problems as the main panel shrinks- trapped between the cleats; I couldn’t tell from the photo if there are splits

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Double-mitred cleats are one of the most appealing methods of stabilising the ends of a fall. I have seen one or two examples where short splits accompanied the mitre spring, but I haven’t seen any catastrophic splits. Good timber selection would be paramount for such construction.

      JP

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  2. Jeff Aldred says:

    Thank you for explaining these things. I did not get it either, but I do now. The pictures that you get to illustrate your points are fantastic!
    Cold and wet this morning in Ontario Canada.

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  3. Eric R says:

    Some fine examples.
    Thank you Mr Jack Plane

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  4. Adam says:

    Thanks for the elaboration. I think 18th century furniture designs worked in part because they were more patient in their wood seasoning.

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  5. Norman Beckett says:

    Jack, In looking at fig’s. 4 and 5, is it safe to assume the use of a horizontal pull out board of sorts as a loper in 4, and in the case of 5 the top two outside drawers as the same? And if so, was this more common on earlier designs or just and individual makers solution?
    Thank, Norman B.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      By far the most prevalent means of supporting the fall was with a pair of lopers. The brushing slide (fig. 4) used to support the fall is quite unusual. The use of drawers to support the fall (fig. 5) crops up occasionally, and as you surmise, in earlier furniture.

      JP

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