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WILLIAMSBURG, VA–The historic cabinet shop at Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum that brings to life the the furniture making trade that took place here more than 250 years ago. During Fine Woodworking‘s annual visit to Colonial Williamsburg for the Working Wood conference, we met up with Mack Headley, the shop’s master cabinetmaker, for a tour of the busy shop.
Headley and his crew of apprentice furniture makers and two instrument makers use 18th century tools and techniques to recreate the daily grind of a busy cabinet shop that did business here between the early 1750s and the Revolutionary War.
“[The original building] looks to have fallen down sometime late 1770s, early 1780s” Headley said in an interview published on the Colonial Williamsburg Web site. “The last master cabinetmaker there joins the Revolutionary Army and doesn’t return from the war.”
Today, the shop has been faithfully recreated and is open to the public with classes and demonstrations. It includes a show room of historic furniture and objects and a working shop packed with reproduction pieces made by Headley and his crew.
For more information about Colonial Williamsburg and to find a schedule of hours and events, visit them online at History.org.
You’re Watching:Touring the Colonial Williamsburg Shopwith Mack HeadleyThe living-history museum celebrates a time when furniture was built only by hand
How They Did It: Dimensioning Lumber by Handwith Mack HeadleyBefore power tools, 18th century craftsmen wielded handsaws and planes to four-square lumber for furniture
How They Did It: Before the Routerwith Mack Headley18th century craftsmen used an array of hand planes to plow grooves and dadoes, and profile edges
How They Did It: Before the Bandsawwith Mack HeadleyHandsaws of all shapes and sizes were used to cut curves and rough shape furniture parts in the 18th century
Antique Tools are Modern Madewith George WilsonTool makers reproduce 18th century handsaws, plans, and marking tools for the historic trade shops at Colonial Williamsburg
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