Curly Cherry Highboy, Part Three
Flame finials and carved fans complete this classic
Synopsis: In this, the third of three articles on making a curly cherry highboy, Randall O’Donnell explains how he enjoys carving the details – the fans in the two center drawers and the flame finials that crown the bonnet. He uses a compass and coins to lay out the fans’ ray spacing and scalloped edges. Then he carves them; detailed photographs accompany the explanation. He uses a lathe to start the finials and carves the flame with gouges. The article also describes the details of finishing the waist molding, plinths, and mounting the finials. Drawings illustrate each step.
Imagine moving your household and three days later, packing up and moving again. That’s what it’s like to be an exhibitor at a furniture show. Setting up a booth is hard work. After the carpet was down and everything in place at a recent show, I caught my breath and watched as prospective customers walked into my booth to take a closer look at this highboy. It’s almost ft. tall, and the figure of the curly cherry is exceptional.
Invariably, admirers would walk up to the highboy and somewhat tentatively run their fingers over the fans carved into the two center drawers. Carving seems to serve as the touchstone of a piece. If the carvings look and feel right, customers stay to ask questions, take a brochure and, perhaps, place an order.
I make 18th-century-style furniture. Working within this form, I like to play with the details—to put my stamp on a piece. And nowhere is the ground more fertile for expressing individuality than in carving. Although I have no reservations about using machines for preparing stock, carving is one of several things that I do completely by hand.
In the last two issues of Fine Woodworking, I…