I don’t have historic patterns for this precise chest of drawers, so the first few hours of the job were absorbed in making patterns for the serpentine carcase and drawer fronts, cock-beading, serpentine base moulding and bracket feet.
The individual pine boards for the chest’s carcase were planed slightly oversize and then rubbed together with glue to form the four carcase panels (fig. 1).
When dry, the panels were planed to their final dimensions and the serpentine shape was cut into the front edges of the top and base (fig. 2).
The mortises for the false carcase sides and the carcase dovetails were laid out (figs. 2 & 3).
Chamfering the upper edge of the top panel to accept the thin cross-grain European walnut moulding blocks, which the top moulding is cut into, could be achieved with the carcase all glued together (as could the moulding itself). However, gluing moulding blocks onto the base panel and scraping the base moulding in its entirety with the carcase assembled would be impossible due to the impediment of the two carcase sides. At any rate, these panels are more easily worked in the vice, so there I chamfered the front edges of both the top and base boards and glued the cross-grain moulding blocks in place (figs. 4 & 5).
On straight runs of moulding these cross-grain moulding blocks are commonly 1-1/4″- 2″ wide however, the sinuous curves at the front of the carcase necessitate the front moulding blocks being somewhat narrower than the norm so they better conform to the vacillating concave and convex surfaces. To that end, the blocks must be shaped and laid as keystones (both upward and downward facing as the curves alternate). The sides of the blocks must also be bevelled (again, inwards and outwards) to ensure (at this stage, at least) a gapless result (fig. 6). As the finished chest dries out and settles, some minor gaps in the cross-grain mouldings are expected – and welcomed.
Once the carcase has been assembled and the moulding blocks have been glued to chamfers planed in the top side edges, the top moulding will be planed/scratched directly into the carcase, but for the reason mentioned earlier, the front base moulding will be completed at the bench. The side base mouldings are straight runs which are currently being formed on pine stock in the traditional manner (fig. 7), and will then be sawn off and glued to the bottom edges of the carcase sides.
Dovetails were cut in all four carcase panels and the top and base panels were mortised to receive the false carcase sides (fig. 8).
Whilst waiting for various things to dry, I usually jump here and there within a job, and as the notion took me, I prepared some walnut and made the 1/8″ thick cock-beads for the serpentine drawers (fig. 9).
When eventually affixed, the cock-beads will protrude a little more than 1/16″ from the front faces of the finished drawers and their rear edges will be sawn a little oversize and then shaved flush with the inner faces of the drawer fronts.
I also prepared the walnut feather-banding stock (figs. 10 & 11).
The hours involved so far come to 37-3/4.