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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. 

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Scott Severns

SAPFM President

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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
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Article Index

Pencil Handwriting

The acanthus carved detachable knees retain writing in pencil denoting left and right. Similar writing in pencil by the Philadelphia upholsterer, Charles Hanlon, was discovered on the shoe of the rear seat rails of the Cadwalader chairs from the bedroom of Dr.Charles Cadwalader, upholstered in Philadelphia in the early 20th century by Hanlon before being brought to London in 1904.12

CB18
Left: Pencil “R” on right bolt cover.
Right: Hanlon pencil writing on Fanshawe chairs.

This may well indicate that the bed was draped at the same time that the Fanshawe chairs were reupholstered in Philadelphia.

Tool Marks

Close examination of the bedstead has revealed a series of tool marks. These marks are of paramount importance in:

  • Confirming the unity of the bed elements.
  • Illuminating workshop practice and technique.
  • Identifying furniture from the same workshop.

As already demonstrated the castors and castor impressions unify all four posts. There is no evidence of castors having been replaced. (In order to raise and protect the feet a set of English brass and leather castors, circa 1750, have now been fitted.) Both foot posts display the same chuck marks showing that they have been turned on the same lathe and have never been reduced in height.

Clamp Marks

A series of very distinct clamp marks can be seen on the back of both the leaf carved knees, on both foot posts behind the knees (where it was not necessary to have the timber dressed), and on the reverse of all three parts of the carved cornice, where nine clamp marks can be found. This shows that all carved components of the bed were made in the same workshop and held for carving with the same clamp.

CB19
Left: Clamp marks behind movable knee on right foot post
Right: Illustration of clamp marks behind movable knee on right foot post.

One clamp head leaves a distinct surface impression as well as an outline as it has a tooled surface of crosshatching to ensure a good grip while carving. This clamp head is 1 ¾” in length and leaves a diamond pattern impressed in the wood.

CB20
Clamp marks on back right of knee.

Three clamp marks are found on each section of the cornice.

CB21
Clamp mark no.1 (above) and no.6 (below) of 9 on cornice of bed.

The presence of the clamp marks show how and where the timber was held for carving. Repetitive overlapping marks on two faces of the foot posts suggests they were clamped many times during the carving of the feet.

CB22
Highlighting clamp mark numbers 1 - 9, clamp mark no.1 /9 located top of image, no.6 /9 located lower left of image.

It is unusual to find clamp marks on period furniture however clamp marks are also found on the inside of the rear seat rails on the saddle seat side chairs as documented in the Cadwalader Study.13 There are no clamp marks evident on the straight railed chairs as they were not needed to be secured for carving of the rails.

Plane Marks

The red cedar canopy has distinctive plane marks running the full length. A nick in the plane bladehas resulted in a small ridge of raised timber. This is seen repeated at regular intervals for each subsequent stroke of the plane.

It is unusual to see such marks remaining on the underside or back of period furniture. It is either an accepted practice of the workshop or is due specifically to haste in the commission where no time is wasted on the dressing and cleaning of areas that would not be seen. The clamp and plane marks can both be seen as part of this workshop practice.

As detailed in the Cadwalader Study the serpentine fronted card table in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) has similar markings.14

What is evident on the underside of the table in the PMA is similar plane marks with a ridge left on the surface of the timber from a nick in the plane blade.

CB23
Plane marks on the rear of front section of carved cornice.

In comparing the two tables, the Cadwalader Study concluded: “surface planing work on the underside of the DAF table is regular and unobtrusive. Plane work on the interior surfaces of the PMA table is quite noticeable and includes a small ridge left by a nick in a plane blade. In general, the tooling marks on the inner surfaces of the PMA table are rough, whereas the inner surfaces of the DAF table are more refined.”

CB24
Rear of PMA Cadwalader card table. Dark raised ridge from nick in plane blade evident at top of image.
CB25
Underside of PMA Cadwalader serpentine card table. Small ridge from nick in plane blade seen on underside of top

Punch Marks

A small rectangular punch has been used to create the decorative ground on the leaf carved knees. It can also be seen on the underside of the carving below the turned spiral.

CB26Detail of the punch decoration on bed post collar.

 

Excessive wear from years of polishing has left the decoration on the knees less distinct than that on the underside of the spiral.

A similar punched ground is used as a decoration on the Cadwalader fire screens and recently discovered tea table.

CB27 CB28
Details of punch decoration on vase of the recently-
discovered Cadwalader tea table.
Detail of punch decoration top of leg of Cadwalader
fire screen. PMA.

Upcoming Events

News/Announcements

New Articles

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    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...

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     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...

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