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Mary's & Brian's Gallery

We went from novice to intermediate to advanced woodworking in about six years and filled our home with beautiful Arts & Crafts style furniture.  Take the tour with us and see why we are so proud to present this gallery.  It is a houseful!

We primarily use quartersawn white oak.  None of our furniture is stained!  We use our easy fuming method with a standard household safe ammonia method..  After fuming for several hours in our mini van, we apply many thin coats of tung oil and several coats of paste wax for a durable and classic finish.  We include this easy fuming method in every plan we offer.

We refer to our style of Arts & Crafts Furniture as "updated for the 21st Century!"

Many customers have asked us to send them pictures of our furniture over the years.  While we were glad to do this, we now include our  Gallery on our website.

 

 

We began our journey with the ball rack, breakfast room table, billiard chairs and beverage tables.

The Ball Display Rack is available as plans.

Our Breakfast Table has drawers at the ends.  Shown with Mary's Great-great-grandmother's chairs.  This table now accompanies our new Peacock chairs in the Breakfast Room (see later pictures) but previously served as our temporary Dining Room table.

We offer these Mission style Observation Chairs and Beverage Tables as plans as well as our later 9 Styles.

Our Billiard Room has both sets of chairs and tables and the television keeps us posted on news as we play One Pocket every afternoon.

Then we moved right in and built the pool table.  We would have killed for a book on how to do it.  So, we wrote our first book so you didn't have to go through the hand-wringing, research and reinvent the wheel.

We won the 2001 Billiard Digest Architectural Design Award for Best Home Room.  Everything in the room (except books, knick knacks, and cues) cost us $5,000 including the pool table, all furniture, billiard lamp, framed pictures, plants and window treatments!

For months after completing the pool table we would walk into the room and our eyes would fill with tears of happiness, because we did it ourselves!

Building our pool table gave us courage to move on to more intricate woodworking challenges and techniques.

Intermediate Period
Next we built four Morris Chairs.  Three are shown here.  The cushions are firm and feature piped box style cushions.  They are so comfortable you can fall asleep in mid sentence.
Bending the oak for the Morris Chair arms was challenging!  We resawed 13/16" oak  3/8" thick.  Then we glued two pieces together and let cure overnight.  The next day we added the third lamination.  It was slow because we were clamp-limited and only made one contour fixture.

At far right are three of the eight arms after fuming and several coats of Tung oil.

Gluing the arm to the side of the chair required all the clamps again.  The arm is doweled to the top of the side with six dowels and lots of glue!

Progress was made when we could attach the adjustable back to the chair and it deserved a photo even with the uncovered foam seat.

We temporarily parked our beverage tables in the foyer so we could have room to work on the pool table and they were sadly missed when moved from the pool room.  So, that afternoon, we went into our shop and cut out all the pieces for two Foyer Tables with a thinner  and wider profile.  Notice  the one shown covers the ugly air intake perfectly!

 

The Game Room Drink Table plans we offer are based on our Foyer Tables.
Our next project was our three loveseats.  The tapestry loveseat is in the billiard room nook.  Our Prairie Loveseat in the living room, far right, is upholstered in pigskin leather.
Our round back loveseat is the only one in existence of which we are aware!  It has inviting crimson suede cushions.  The curved back was routed to shape and painstakingly hand-fitted with mortise and tenon spindles.  The back cushion is a rounded T-shape to extend the cushion curve over the arms.  Two slim side cushions lock the back cushion from falling forward.

Both leather sofas required much slow-paced diligence to get the cushions sewn with the heavy leather. 

Our coffee table needed to be very special to go in the center of the living room.  Mary pieced oak burl and sap along with regular quartersawn oak to produce the striking geometry on her parquetry top.  There are 137 pieces in the top alone.  Everyone is amazed with its charm and detail.
The four Morris chairs each needed footstools.  We also built the bedroom bench at the same time to save on machine setups.  Having them open cuts down on clutter from our other hobbies of building period  model ships, quilting and guitar study.  All these pieces can be used as extra seating at the dining room table for large parties!
Mary designed billiard room bookcases while on vacation on her laptop. The six pieces are 90" wide and 96" high with a low profile of just 12" on the base units and 9" on the uppers units.  Leaded glass doors were placed so that an errantly launched ball from the pool table could not break them.  The drawers are lock joint miter construction and hold all sorts of billiard accessories. The Wall Mounted Cue Rack plans we offer are based on the upper center section of this bookcase as a stand-alone wall-mounted  version.
The front porch and deck were no longer empty with the addition of our Georgia cypress furniture. 

Our Spectator Chair and Bench Plans use our simplified method to make rear legs with a slanted back like these chairs.  Have no fear if  you have a router.

Our Japanese Garden surrounds us with many Japanese laceleaf maple trees.  The fish pond accentuates the ambiance along with rocks Mary collected all over the country including fossils she found while digging the pond.  Our Japanese Garden is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a tall glass of iced tea while sitting on the Garden Bench!
On 911, we were working on this quilt stand while airplanes crashed into the north and south World Trade Centers... another Pearl Harbor Day!

Nothing else was accomplished that day.

This quilt stand holds four queen size quilts.  It is the only piece we have given away to Brian's friend as a wedding gift.  It is fumed cherry with heart cut-out handles.

Yes, we've replaced those curtains!

We built Snooker Rails for our tournament pool table. Shown here hanging next to our pool table on the wall.  It takes about 2 hours to switch between the pool and snooker rails.  The balls are just sitting on the perfectly level top rail. Our snooker rails assemble to our 9 foot pool table.  You can order the snooker table plans and build the snooker rails for either of our pool table plans in any size.  This is the optimal solution when you only have room for one table like we do.
Our Advanced Period    
 Hardware:  We could not find anything we liked for furniture we had built to date.  Mary decided to file over a thousand square holes.  The drop pulls shown on the night stand doors at far right were made on a band saw from square brass stock and pivot outward.

Bails and posts were purchased. The bail at near right is antique A&C. Bail at far right is a standard Hepplewhite drawer pull.  Next these sets were sent to be professionally polished to a mirror finish and lacquered to retain their brilliant finish.  

The Twin Towers: Our adventure in veneering began with the inside backs of these cabinets and the  veneered bubinga sides and doors.  Our first dovetail project involved the drawers on the lower cabinet at near right.

Soaring to 105", each of these twin towers consists of three separate cabinets which can be easily restacked for different configurations.  The glass leading is actually adhesive-backed brass finished lead tape which gives the rich appearance of individually pieced sections. Cabinets are lighted and feature adjustable glass shelves.

The model ship is the "San Francisco."

The End Tables repeat the bubinga theme in our living room.  The two cabinets are mirror images of one other -- except the drawer on each enters from a different direction. We found granite to be a wonderful top giving a stately look.  

Hardware is on all sides of each piece to give the illusion they can be opened from any direction since they sit in the middle of the room.

We used cherry for the drawer sides after buying 690 board feet for only $295 from a guy getting out of the business.  

Our two nightstands had different requirements.  Brian's door unit has chestnut burl veneer doors.  Mary's five-drawer unit has room for all her stuff.  Both feature a pull out lap board mostly used pulled out 2/3rds for morning coffee and midnight snacks.  Again, granite tops give the rich and unique look as well as a very durable surface.
Brian's Armoire is in two pieces because of the weight.  Drawers in the upper unit (far right) feature hidden storage.  Lower drawers have built in dividers.  Chestnut burl veneer adorns front doors and on both unit's sides.  Mary's heirloom dulcimer adorns the top.
Mary's Mule Chest Dresser features 10 drawers and has chestnut burl sides.  The upper two drawers have movable jewelry trays lined with Pacific cloth.  Other drawers feature fixed dividers.  Granite provides continuity with all other pieces in the room. The mirror comes later
The bedroom Credenza has a bow-shaped granite top above the breakfront cabinet.  Now we have ample room to store photo albums and cameras.  The low profile makes the piece look larger than its 54" length and 30" height suggest.  

Like other bedroom pieces the Credenza features bookmatched chestnut burl veneered doors and sides.

 
We ordered 100 brass plates custom engraved to keep track of the year we made each piece.  We mounted them inside drawers or doors or under the pieces so our house wouldn't look like a museum.
And now we needed accent mirrors.  We had "crystal" beveled mirrors made noted for their superior clarity.  The dresser mirror features movable wings for primping.  Construction includes a French cleat system for solid wall mounting, although it appears to be sitting on the dresser.

Two foyer mirrors oppose one another to emphasize the height of the room.  The photo at far  right (over and under) shows the two foyer mirrors.  The Twin Towers' sides are visible but are actually around the corner in the living room.

 
The two tabourets capitalized upon a huge mistake earlier on.  We cut eight legs too short on an earlier project after quarter gluing them.  Ouch!

The Decagon Tabouret used five of the rogue legs.  It features pommelle sappelle sunburst veneer with an oak surround.

 

 

Top view of Decagon Tabouret

With the completion of the Decagon Tabouret, we decided to revise one of the Morris chairs into a round back version to match the window valences which are similar to the dining room valance shown below. Online auction sites are a wonderful place to find designer quality, high end fabrics at affordable prices.
The three remaining rogue legs host a bubinga veneer table top for the seating nook in the billiard room. The edge banding on the birch plywood substrate was easier than we anticipated.  Mary pieced the bubinga in a six part sunburst which created challenging splice angles in the table top.  The top view is mesmerizing.

Three stretchers meet at table's center.  We fashioned Y-shaped brass brackets to secure the construction on the top and bottom of the joints to ensure stability and rigidity.  The table has nine corbels in two sizes to accentuate the top.

We started the dining room with the two Corner China cabinets.

Madrone veneer is on the base unit.  Each tower consists of three separate units because they are very heavy and are 96" high when stacked.  Lighting is installed behind the cabinet to wash up the cathedral ceilings at night for a dramatic effect.  Lights installed in the cabinets are controlled from a central wall dimmer.  Glass shelves are supported with fixed oak supports routed with double plate grooves along the sides and rear on display levels.  Glass door and side panels are faux-leaded like our billiard bookcase and Twin Towers.

The side drawers were an interesting project.

The Server was a challenge because of the different levels.  Pullouts on each side hold extra party items and are parquetry.  The bottom arched shelf is open to the wall.  Madrone veneer panels and black granite top make this an elegant showpiece.  Shown with parquetry pullouts closed, but pictured below.  Lights are controlled by our central dimmer system with the corner cabinets.

The upper shelf of our server is one continuous plane with glass recessed in the middle to give the illusion of the blue crystal vase floating.

Shown above with doors on side and front open.  Madone panels hide the adjustable shelves for glassware beneath the display shelf.

In olden times this cabinet was referred to as a "Chaffing Dish Cabinet" and was usually with one door.

We framed Anita Munman art prints in rail and stile frames and used leftover clrimson-colored loveseat suede for the matting and installed a crystal bevel mirror which reflects light from our antique chandelier. shown in above server pictures.

We routed two keyholes in the back of each stile so the pictures would flush mount to the wall and  stay level forever!

Two Munman prints hang above the Sideboard with rust-colored suede mats which blend well with the madrone panels in the furniture.

A third Munman hangs alone on an adjacent wall, shown at far right.  

 

Our Sideboard (near right) uses a lot of mission detail and is based on our bedroom credenza breakfront design. The angled side drawers are dovetailed on each corner!  Yes, hand cutting some of the dovetails was hard!  Black granite brings it all together.  Drawers are lined with Pacific cloth and fitted with custom Pacific Cloth silverware trays.  Parquetry pullouts are not shown and are similar to the server's pullouts.

Although we had not built our dining table yet, we built these dining room chairs.  The chairs are shown here with our Breakfast Room table and it looks marvelous!

The chairs use an interesting element of long spindles into an angled curved upper back stretcher, the spindles meet in a angled straight stretcher at the bottom.  Side upper on lower stretchers have angled tenons.  The piped box cushions curve tightly around the spindles.  Chenille fabric matches the arched window cornice.

Next we swapped out the our kitchen and dining room tables to their targeted rooms.

Pictured at near right is the trestle draw table, closed.  The picture at far right shows the draw table fully extended.  The table accommodates two to eight people.   This solved the problem of storing table leaves.

Mary worked for six months piecing quartersawn oak, burl, and sap pieces to achieve her goal of combining quilting and woodworking ...  one precious glue-up at a time.

To get the cams operating smoothly, we fashioned them from scrap MDF which would be later used as router templates.  The cams go through the center beam, which keeps the leaves level when extended.

Then, the side filler blocks were added to fill the space between the leaves when the table is closed.  The top floats upon the entire base structure with a layer of felt glued to the bottom of the top.  Dowels hold the top in alignment through the filler blocks.

Now that our Breakfast Table lives where it was planned, our recently built Peacock Chairs bring our nook together.

We've described the Breakfast Table earlier.  We only add that it has compartmented drawers (far right).

The Peacock Chairs have a fan shaped center slat with curved spindles on each side.  The slat is dyed with black aniline to deeply penetrate the surface. The curved spindles are fitted with horizontal blocks to give these chairs a MacIntosh flair.  The fabric for the seats has peacock feathers, hence the name!

These spindles are pinned with brass rod to maintain alignment forever!

The rear legs are tapered and are angled back at five degrees for an ultimate seating experience.

The lower horizontal stretchers are pinned with "Brass Jewels" we made from square stock.  They add a special glint to the chairs while assuring the chairs stay together a hundred years hence!

And we are not done!  Although Mary died suddenly in December, 2011, I will continue to provide updates.  We had completed more intricate pieces  which include:

The Queen size Bed.  Like our Morris Chairs, the top cap on the headboard and footboard is bent.  Hand fitted spindles accent the arched footboard much like our Round Back Sofa.  Mary had intricately caned the curved headboard to my personal awe. 

The Plant Stand.  Black granite topped to occupy the empty corner of the dining room, this piece again features madrone doors and glass shelves under the granite top.  Lighting highlights display pieces.  Yes, a plant will sit atop.

All furniture shown are in our private home collection and are not for sale.

Editor's Note:  We include this gallery so you can appreciate the fine detail that we use in our furniture construction.  When you buy our plans, we show you how and why something is done. 

Mary Southall & Brian Swift.

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