I was skeptical of my own work towards the end of the settle build, but my doubts were alleviated by a trip to our upholsterer. He’d asked us to come into the shop to confirm the final look of the back and side cushions. Even with only the decking and bottom cushions complete at the point, the settle was looking really good. It’s now complete and installed, and we’re enjoying it–especially the dog.
I was getting ready to glue the arm to the base when I realized I should probably double-check the width of the basement door before doing so. It was a good thing I did since the base will barely fit through without the arm. I’ll take things outside before attaching the arm, then it’s off to the upholsterer’s. As protracted as this build has seemed, selecting the fabric might be the hardest part . . .
The corbel is a common element in Craftsman furniture, providing form and function. A series of corbels supports the wide arms of the No. 220 settle. Five are required for my shortened version: one on each front leg, two on each rear leg, and one centered on the back. While the No. 220’s design allows for simply gluing the corbels to the legs (there’s substantial long grain to long grain exposure for good gluing), I chose to join the corbels to the frame using a 1/4″ tongue in the dado to ensure positioning. When replicating corbels for a reproduction, I don’t try to copy it exactly. Instead, I note major dimensions–the width and height of the corbel–and the general shape of the curve, then approximate the curve using a bezier curve in Illustrator or SketchUp. Once I have a shape I like, I print out and transfer to my template. After cutting close on the bandsaw, I complete final shaping with a spokeshave to ensure a fair curve. With the template ready, I mark the blanks, rough out on the bandsaw, then use a pattern bit in the router to copy the parts.
I’ve admired Leopold and John George Stickley’s “Prairie Style” settle since I first encountered it in Bob Lang’s Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture, so my thoughts turned to it when we began to consider replacing some seating in our living room. We needed something shorter, though, so I determined how much space I had, then adapted the Stickley design. Continue reading
I sometimes wonder whether the Stickley brothers ever gathered as a group in adulthood. I picture them, perhaps sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, or watching their children open Christmas presents, and imagine the undercurrents and tensions that likely arose when five brothers–Gustav, Leopold, John George, Albert, and Charles–all engaged, in various combinations of partnership, in the same profession with varying degrees of success in New York and Michigan–came together in a single place. Shared meals could have been especially fraught after Gustav’s bankruptcy and short-lived association with Leopold and John George’s company. The latter two brothers built their company on designs in the same style as Gustav’s Craftsman furniture before adapting to changing tastes. While the No. 220 settle shows a Craftsman influence, it is, as Bob Lang observers in Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture unlike anything produced by Gustav Stickley. Continue reading