Boston Woodworking Co. Ltd., Sunbury, Ohio

Mark Arnold's Portfolio
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The Apogee Chair

The design for this chair is ostensibly inspired by shield-back chairs of the Federal Period. This example is made of cherry with rosewood accents on the feet and the splat and also has satinwood veneer.

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Chippendale Side Chair

Based on several chairs produced in Philadelphia during the Chippendale period (1760-1785), this mahogany side chair features a carved Gothic splat, crest, and legs. Philadelphia cabinet shops produced some of the most sophisticated and ornately-carved furniture found in the American colonies. Craftsmen such as James Gillingham, Benjamin Randolph, Thomas Tufft and Thomas Affleck (whose work inspired this chair) executed pieces in the most fashionable styles, incorporating Chinese, Gothic, and French Rococo elements.

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Stars & Stripes

This original design was greatly inspired by the square-back chairs made popular by the English designer Thomas Sheraton. The simple tapered legs and patriotic 'stars and bars' back are indicative of the Federal period (1785-1825) in America when furniture was sparingly adorned with symbols of the new republic.
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Easy Chair

An easy chair was a very expensive piece of furniture for its day due to the high cost of imported fabrics. Typically stuffed with curled animal hair and straw (springs came later) and covered with linen or sometimes leather, these chairs protected their occupants from cold drafts and the direct glare of the fireplace. Oddly enough, many easy chairs (wingback is a more recent term) were built to double as close stools, a type of potty chair for the infirm.

The walnut chair pictured here is one of three I built with vertical scroll arms. Other variants include horizontal scroll and double or c-scroll arms. This chair does have seat springs and other contemporary upholstery materials. The seat cushion and back are button-tufted although the Chippendale period pre-dates the widespread practice of this technique. This chair was not built to double as a close stool!

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Bellange Bergere

To refurnish the White House after it was burned in 1814, President James Monroe ordered a suite of furniture from the French ebeniste, Pierre-Antoine Bellange. The satin upholstered chairs and sofa, made of carved and gilded beech, now reside in the Blue Room.

The bergere (an armchair with upholstered sides) featured here is only 8" high and was built to hang from the Blue Room Christmas tree during a recent White House traditional holiday celebration. Fine details, even at mouse level, help to make a small piece stand out.

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Arts & Crafts Table

The design was influenced by the Arts & Crafts style. Solid Ash with through-tenons.

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Federal-style Gueridon

A gueridon is the French word for a center table which was often found in the center of a large foyer. This gueridon features a solid cherry base and a 12-piece cherry sunburst table top with avodire crossbanding. Fine Woodworking readers might recognize this table from the article on sunburst veneering that I wrote for the July/August 2009 issue of the magazine.

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Queen Anne Tavern Table

This mahogany tavern table in the Queen Anne style features four whale feet with pads which are dovetailed into the column. The top is 42" in diameter and seats four comfortably.

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Elliptical Demi-Lune

Original three-legged demi lunes are not as common as their four-legged cousins. Elliptical examples (half-oval rather than half-circle) are rarer still. I enjoy designing period-inspired pieces that employ design elements or materials that were either not available or little-used by artisans of the period. When coupled with more archetypal elements such as holly stringing or a sand-shaded fan, anachronistic details can be striking, subtle or blend seamlessly into the surrounding form. Here I have used walnut as the primary wood and bubinga (African rosewood) as its complement. The shimmering bubinga panels of the top and apron are framed by a walnut herringbone banding whose historic use pre-dates the overt Federal lines of the table.
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Demi Lune Pair

These tables are loosely based on an original Sheraton card table. The pairing of mahogany and satinwood is as classic as the five orders. Here I have inlaid satinwood around each lobe of the mahogany sunburst-veneered tops and then framed the whole with a mahogany checkerboard banding that makes great use of chatoyancy. The turned and reeded legs are morticed into a thin apron giving the tables a light and delicate feel despite their 38" widths.
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Wedding Cake Demi-Lune

The flat and curved surfaces of small tables, specifically the demi lune form, have become the canvas on which I paint with a palette of woods. On every piece I begin with a list of techniques or design elements I hope to integrate. On this table, I sought to do three things. First, I wanted to reverse the typical primary-dark vs. accent-light schema indicative of most veneered Federal tables and to use woods whose contrast was not as great as mahogany vs. satinwood. I therefore made satinwood the primary focus and framed it with more subtle yet darker cherry. Secondly, I wanted to incorporate an integral spade foot or therme, an element associated with the shop of John Seymour of Boston. My last goal was to make a central marquetry panel, or pictorial, incorporating a neo-classical hallmark urn. Photo courtesy of Mark Schofield

   
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Candle Stand

Its top only 13", the inspiration for this tripod comes from tea tables nearly three times as wide. Early candle stands with carved tops are extremely rare, especially those made of cherry. Assembled from only six pieces of wood, the tripod can appear deceptively simple especially when compared to much larger forms. The tripod candle stand, however, is a demanding project necessitating knowledge of a variety of woodworking techniques and processes. It requires competence in faceplate turning, spindle turning and fluting, dovetails and mortice and tenon joinery, shaping and fairing with handtools, and carving as well as finishing.
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Oval Table

I built this curly walnut and tiger maple table while a student at North Bennet Street School. Its ovoid top and apron presented some challenges not encountered in typical circular work; because an ellipse is a constantly changing curve, a trammel or compass is of little use. Finding solutions to problems (even problems that I create) is an enjoyable part of furniture making. The top of this 44-inch-long table features a 16-piece sunburst pattern.


Detail of the oval table above showing tiger maple panel inlaid into the face of the walnut leg.
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Corner Fan Detail

This ribbon mahogany dining table is typical of many of the pieces I have made. The overall shape and the form are very traditional but some of the details are retrofitted to an earlier style or altered to serve some other function. Here the mahogany panel with quarter fans seems right at home on a Federal table. To protect the edge of the veneered components I have added a two-inch-wide boarder of poor man's satinwood (tiger maple) reminiscent of a Queen Anne tavern table.
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Compass Star

Don't let this little image fool you. This table is almost six feet in diameter! It resides on a large expanse of wide plank hickory flooring. The table itself is made of solid hickory with ash burl, white oak and English brown oak veneers. The geometric order of the compass star, an Early Georgian (the king, not the state) embellishment, contrasts with the random nature of its surroundings and appears to float above the wildly-figured ash burl.
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Atomic Table

Sometimes a flight of fancy leads to a happy coincidence. Such is the case with this table. My goal was to blend various details of the legs, column and top into something with a contemporary 'edge'. After assembly, it was noted that the grain of the ribbon mahogany sunburst top appeared to crisscross as it orbited the center inlay--like the electrons of an atom. The legs then morphed into the fins of a rocket as the column billowed up to the mushroom-shaped top. Not a political or social statement but an exercise in imaginative play. Who can really say what our forefathers saw when they looked up at the Rococo embellishment and central cartouche of a Philadelphia highboy?
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Sunburst Table Top

This stunning table top shows a 12-piece bookmatched pattern of cerejeira with a border of Macassar ebony.
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Paterae

Found primarily on furniture of the Federal period in America, oval paterae are small pictorial inlays containing floral, patriotic, heraldic, marine, and Greco-Roman motifs. They were used extensively to adorn tables, chests, cabinets, and boxes. I make these by hand for use on my own work.

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Sleigh Bed

The sleigh bed is derived from the French lit en bateau made popular during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. I chose cherry for this queen-sized bed.
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High Chest

This Queen Anne highboy- or more appropriately- high chest, is closely proportioned from an original made in Salem, MA around 1740. This piece is made of cherry with madrone burl veneered drawer fronts and cherry herringbone banding.

In general, flat top high chests are earlier than the bonnet top or scrolled pediment variety. Although the form came to the colonies from England, the high chest was soon supplanted by the chest on chest and fell out of favor in England long before it did here. As a result, the impressive Philadelphia high chest of the Chippendale period is a uniquely American contribution to cabinet making.

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Hepplewhite Corner Cabinet

This corner china cabinet is one of a pair built to flank the entrance of a formal dining room. They feature sideboard-like bases having a variety of storage devices for flatware and serving utensils. The upper cases are outfitted with glass shelves, triptych mirrors and lighting. The entire front of each cabinet is radiused, including the glass doors and cornice.
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Hanging Corner Cabinet

Like the candle stand described above, this simple little walnut cabinet with pendant shelves presents some challenges to the beginning student of period furniture making. Its tombstone panel sits proud of the door frame. The crown molding is fashioned using a variety of tools and techniques. Since the back also serves as the sides of the cabinet, it must be substantive enough to support the shelves and the entire weight of the cabinet once it is affixed to the wall yet not appear too thick. The back is also a decorative element and is scrolled along with the valence and shelf nosing. This is a great project for someone who can only manage an occasional weekend in their shop.
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Altar

Built for the parish of St. John Neumann in Sunbury, OH. The frieze around this cherry and ebony altar takes advantage of the phenomenon of chatoyancy. Chatoyancy (literally 'cat's eye') is the visible discrepancy of light reflected from the surface of wood due to its orientation to the viewer, resulting in distinct portions of the veneered cherry band that appear at times either lighter or darker. As the observer changes position, areas that first appear light will darken and vice versa.
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Bureau Plat or Architect's Desk

Bureau plat is the French term for a desk with a large flat surface unencumbered by drawers. This cherry desk with turned fluted legs and paneled aprons was built to match the existing cherry woodwork in a home office.

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Detail of Column Capital

Made for the restoration of a large Victorian house in Columbus, OH. I replicated a number of full- and half- capitals in the Romanesque style to match the original columns which had deteriorated beyond repair.

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Acanthus Leaf Carved Corbels

This pair of mahogany corbels was carved to adorn an archway in a private residence.

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Walnut and Maple Mantel Shelf

This mantel shelf makes use of a technique called sgraffito, the Italian term for 'scratching'. Here I have carved through a thin layer of maple to reveal a walnut substrate.

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Carving Details

Furniture lends itself to low-relief surface carving, and texture is an important element for creating a unique feel to a piece of furniture. Here, a detail of a fishscale pattern in walnut(top) is shown, as well as a birch and cherry sgraffito diaper pattern (bottom).

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Low-Relief Carved Urn

The thickness of the birch veneer carved to create this urn on a cherry background is only 1/16". The modeling which creates shadows and the illusion of dimension is measured in fractions of inches--much like the profile of Lincoln on a copper penny.

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Early Georgian-style Mantel

This butternut mantel was designed and carved based on a 8-1/2" x 11" photograph supplied by the client.


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