Thomas Elfe Chest on Chest


New member
I am hoping that someone may have some information on the construction of how Elfe would build the back of his chest on chest.  I know all chests were not the same, but I am trying to get a clearer understanding of how they were designed and attached.
I have seen reference to sliding boards down a groove in the sides; another one was using the dadoes on the sides to attach the back; I have also seen one picture with what looks like screws and leather washers ...
Any help would be appreciated.  Thank you.
Hi Mark,

It is not clear from your question but I will assume that you are building something similar to Elfe's double chest of drawers with secretary, similar to the one at Williamsburg and pictured on pp382-386 of  Southern Furniture 1680-1830. If so, the text explains that "a series of horizontal backboards are nailed into rabbets at the sides and are flush-nailed at the top and bottom". In this scenario, the top and bottom of the case are not as wide as the sides. The text also describes the backs of both top and bottom cases as being treated similarly.

Hope this answers your question.

From "Thomas Elfe - Cabinetmaker" by Samuel A. Humphrey

Page 21, Second paragraph:
"Secondary wood is black cypress, which was inexpensive, strong and durable. Except for drawer fronts, it was used throughout, including the case backs which are horizontally-grained."

The drawing of the "Chest on Chest details" on page 23, which are measured drawings by Humphrey, seems to indicate the back with horizontal shiplap joints, rabbeted into the sides and flush with the bottom. The drawing on page 22 seems to indicate the top of the lower case was rabbeted. The bottom of the upper case flush, with no clue to the top of the top case. Although the top cornice is loose, which would support the ideal the back being flush with the top of the carcass.

It is interesting  to me that the drawer spacer/dust stops only extend three-fourths of the way to the back.

Hope this is of some benefit.