Follow Us: iconfinder 5365678 fb facebook facebook logo icon 64px   iconfinder 5296765 camera instagram instagram logo icon 64px   iconfinder 5296516 tweet twitter twitter logo icon 64px   youtube 64px



Welcome to SAPFM

For more than 20 years, The Society of American Period Furniture Makers has been committed to providing our members with the best in fine furniture making education.  We provide this service through our symposiums, publications, chapter meetings, and on-line resources. 

Learn More About Us



Scott Severns

SAPFM President



As we continue to define our new “normal for now” and work to solve issues many of us have never experienced, we can still walk into our shops and find some sense of normal. Personally it is my favorite place to be, there is nothing quite like the smell of coffee and sawdust.






Visit our Members Gallery to view the many fine pieces built by SAPFM members. Many are museum reproductions. We hope that among these many masterworks you will find inspiration for your next build.



Visit the Gallery



American Period Furniture Throughout the Decades


Enjoy the Many Benefits of SAPFM Membership

Members enjoy the following benefits.

  • A subscription to our annual American Period Furniture Journal mailed each December
  • A subscription to our quarterly Pins & Tails e-magazine.
  • Participation in all local chapter events
  • Eligibility to attend SAPFM confrences and particapte in SAPFM exhibitions
  • Access to on-line resources including our library of articles, past issues of Pins & Tails e-magazine, and more
  • An online gallery where Members' work is displayed
  • Our online Members forum

See More >>

Article Index

Varnish & Finish Analysis

In July 2014 Susan Buck carried out a microscopy finish analysis on six different areas of the bed from the canopy, frame, removable knee and hairy paw foot.7

Samples from the posts and canopy suggest a dark pigmented stain was used before the first shellac finish. A similar dark pigmented stain was noted on two of the fire screens in the Cadwalader Study. Sample 6 from the claw of the hairy paw shows the first shellac layer to be irregularly cracked. This is not the regular cracking described as “bricking”. However this original shellac coating does have a paler orange auto-flourescence at its surface that is a characteristic of oxidised shellac that does have the bricking pattern.

A number of the other Cadwalader pieces have an original shellac finish, some of which had the "bricking" pattern and others not. So, it seems there is enough variation in the early finish treatments for these pieces that early finish history of the bed fits into this larger group:

  • So, the evidence in samples 4 and 6 suggests that the bed was originally coated with shellac on top of a dark pigmented stain, and then at least three more generations of finishes were applied to the canopy and the exposed elements of the frame. The first shellac layer in sample 6 is irregularly cracked, so it does not exhibit the regular cracking pattern described as “bricking”. But this original shellac coating does have a paler orange autofluorescence at its surface, which is also a characteristic of oxidized shellac with the bricking pattern.
  • The back rail and sub frame may not have been recoated as many times because those elements were hidden below textiles. Or, it is possible that early coatings were partially cleaned away from some elements, such as in samples 3 and 5, where there are no discrete films of shellac remaining on top of the wood. All of these layers – aged shellac, accumulations of gritty materials and oily dressings, fragments of plant resin varnishes – are typical of coating sequences found on eighteenth-century American furniture from urban centers that have not been aggressively stripped or “rejuvenated” with solvents.8


CB12Analysis of side of claw, right hairy paw foot at 400x magnification.

During the finish microscopy analysis, Susan Buck discovered a ‘loose red fibre’. This fibre was found on sample 4 within an early secondary degraded shellac layer on the carved canopy.

CB13Layered analysis of sample 4, ‘Expanded image under Ultraviolet Light’, microscopy report.9


The discovery of red fabric is consistent with the principal Cadwalader bed described bythe upholsterer Plunket Fleeson as a “plestoon bed, full trimmed, with plumes, laces, & headboard, fringed.” The fabric used for the bed hangings and window curtains was a "fine red & white copper plate cotton", 56 yrds of it coming to a sum of £48 16s 6d. There were also 16yrds of linen, 118 yrds of fringe, 57 tassels, 20 yrds of silk lace and 32 yrds of white twilled lace. Plumes were mounted on top of the carved cornice. The headboard was stuffed and covered with fabric.10

Upcoming Events


New Articles

  • Fitting an Asymmetrical Splat Into an Oval Chair Back

    BY DAVE HELLER April 1, 2021 Updated: April 1, 2021 This article discusses a specific aspect of making a set of not-yet-completed Bing-style Art Nouveau dining room chairs of my own design. I will write an article for SAPFM on...

  • A Standup Davenport Computer Desk

     BY JOE PARKER April 1, 2021 Updated: April 1, 2021 The name "Davenport" comes from a reference in the records of an 18th-19th century English furniture maker Gillows. The reference, in about 1795, gives the original design and...

  • Remembering Phil Lowe: Craftsman, Mentor, Friend

    BY MICKEY CALLAHAN April 1, 2021 Updated April 1, 2021 It’s with a heavy heart that I write of the passing of one of America’s master period furniture makers, Phil Lowe. I’ve known Phil for over 30 years and was privileged to have...

  • Luthier's Friend To Thickness Small Part

    BY JEFF THOMPSON April 1, 2021 Updated April 1, 2021 There are number of ways one can thickness stringing and bindings. I’ve used a couple methods myself like on a drum sander, but mine is in a shed out back behind my shop...

  • Mirka Hand Sanding System

    BY BOB LANG April 1, 2021 Updated April 1, 2021 I can develop a pretty smooth surface with a hand plane and/or a scraper, but before finishing I sand to ensure that all the surfaces of a project are consistent. Each hand...

Cartouche Award

  1. The Award
  2. Guidelines
  3. Cartouche Recipients


  1. SAPFM Business Member Directory
  2. Our Sponsors


  1. American Period Furniture
  2. Pins and Tales Magazine