Make a Country HutchWhite pine and simple joinery make this a simple project to build with hand tools
Synopsis: With its open top and decorative side cutouts, this cabinet has its design roots in the 17th century. It relies primarily on nails for strength. The box-joined top, dadoed shelves, bottom, and counter are fixed with nails through the sides, and nailed face frames and cross struts reinforce the structure. Construction is straightforward and a great vehicle for the hand-tool lover.
When I’m making furniture for others, I build in all sorts of styles. But when a piece of furniture is for my own house, I go country. Having grown up in New England, I am partial to the simple pine furniture of our northern settlers. This cupboard, with its open top and decorative cutouts on the sides, has its design roots in the 17th century.
Like the original makers, I worked my white pine boards unplugged. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t build everything by hand. But I really enjoy using hand tools, and when I’m making a piece for myself, I like to indulge a little and skip the machines. The pleasure of the hand work shows in the finished piece, and it feels good knowing all that has gone into making it.
When building a piece with hand tools, it is best to keep things simple. This cabinet relies primarily on nails for its strength. The box-joined top, along with the dadoed shelves, bottom, and counter, are fixed with nails through the sides, and nailed face frames and cross struts reinforce the structure. With the back boards nailed in place at every horizontal, this cupboard is rock-solid. I use traditional cut nails, and I don’t hide them. The exposed nail heads are appropriate to the country style, and the contrast between the silky-smooth pine and hard steel looks great.
I used red oak for the counter, upper molding, spindles, and door pulls. I like red oak and white pine paired together. I left the pine without finish, but used tung oil to bring out the oak’s rich color.
I painted the back boards with slate-blue milk paint. This allowed me to use inferior boards for the back while creating a uniform background for the dishes on display.
I began the hutch by ripping and crosscutting all the parts a bit oversize, then milling them flat. I cut parts to final size only as needed during the build.
The curved cutouts in the sides give this hutch its individuality, and you can design a profile to suit your own tastes.
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Get the Plan
CAD-drawn plans and a cutlist for this project are available in the Fine Woodworking store.