18th Century Dressing Table

  • Advertise with us
Project by Lee A. Jesberger posted 07-04-2007 04:53 PM 4041 views 4 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a fun, yet challenging project. It was my first attempt at carving ball and claw feet.
Built from Mahogany, using full width pieces, (22”wide boards), we closely followed the construction details found in the original 18th century Low Boy’s. We did use compression methods to ensure the wide boards would not crack, as those in the originals did.

The top is Quilted mahogny, as is the top of the mirror unit.

The front is cut from one piece, so the grain is continous accross the drawer fronts, including the curved drawer. We did this by resawing the center drawer face into 3/32” thick pieces, and gluing them back together over a curved form, in a vacuum bag.

The finish is french polished shellac. All the hardware came from Ball and Ball Hardware, and is correct for the period.

-- by Lee A. Jesberger

39 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35300 posts in 5895 days

#1 posted 07-04-2007 05:20 PM

Very nice dressing table Lee.

There has also been some projects made by mark DeCou and he stated that his web traffic picked up when he put his web address in his signature line.

You said you make custom cabinets. so You might change your signature to point to your web page.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View David's profile


1969 posts in 5633 days

#2 posted 07-04-2007 05:31 PM

Lee -

Very nice table indeed. The carved ball feet look great. I appreciate all the construction detail in your description. Please forgive an ignorant question, what does compression methods refer to when you describe the use of wide boards? Thank you again for sharing this wonderful piece!


View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5474 days

#3 posted 07-04-2007 05:37 PM

Hi Carson,
Thanks for the comment on the table, and the suggestion to add the web address. I’ll certainly follow that advice!

-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5483 days

#4 posted 07-04-2007 05:43 PM

Great looking!

I love the ball claw feet!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5474 days

#5 posted 07-04-2007 05:54 PM

Hi David,

Thank you for your comments on the dressing table.

When using wide boards, we clamp the board across the width of the board. Not to the point of causing it to cup, but enough to put some real pressure on it. While the clamps are still in place, we glue the piece up. (in this case, gluing the wide boards to the leg posts. The legs have 3 mortises cut into them. We glue the top and bottom tennon, and leave the center tennon float. This compression in the board results in it being able to expand as the humidity rises, which only eases the tension we created.

This was learned from a book titled “American Furniture of the 18th Century”, written by Jeffery P. Greene, and published by the Taunton Press. Whenever doing any 18th century furniture, which happens to be a personal favorite of mine, this book will be found on my workbench.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in 18th century furniture. The author is probably one of the world’s leading authorities on the work of the Townsends and Goddards, and has been commissioned by a Rhode Island Museum to reproduce their furniture.

-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5474 days

#6 posted 07-04-2007 05:59 PM

Thanks Gary;

When I did them, I started on a Friday afternoon. I first carved a single leg, just to make sure I could do it, and then used it as a guide for the eight legs needed for the project.

When my partner saw the sample leg on Monday, his comment was ” I hate you”.

A good sign for sure!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5531 days

#7 posted 07-04-2007 06:07 PM

Impressive work, Lee. I wondered how you did the drawer face, and then you told us. Thanks for your construction details, they provide a great description of the process and really adds to the overall presentation here. The carving looks great as well.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View rentman's profile


230 posts in 5589 days

#8 posted 07-04-2007 06:08 PM

very nice work lee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Phil, Chattanooga,TN

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5656 days

#9 posted 07-04-2007 06:10 PM

Impressive work Lee. I aspire to produce work like that someday.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5741 days

#10 posted 07-04-2007 06:22 PM

Great job, love the claw feet, you don’t see many woodworkers doing that anymore. Nice construction. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View mb_BeachBum's profile


25 posts in 5546 days

#11 posted 07-04-2007 06:43 PM

Wonderful job! Love that 18th Century furniture, also my favorite.

-- Don, on California's Central Coast

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5474 days

#12 posted 07-04-2007 07:31 PM

Thanks guys,

Your kind words are really appreciated.

Nothing worse than to pour your heart into something and not have it appreciated huh!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Tim's profile


28 posts in 5496 days

#13 posted 07-04-2007 08:25 PM

In a word, WOW!! Great job on the ball and claw feet. Very impressive.

-- Measure twice!!

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5671 days

#14 posted 07-04-2007 10:49 PM

This is why I love LJ’s so much, Lee. Your high-end work is a great balance to the work I do as an recreational woodworker. It is inspiring to see what a pro can do with wood. And of course, it makes me appreciate even more what the craftsmen of the eighteenth century did with hand tools.

Thanks for share the details of this beautiful piece and what an interesting website you have – your work is brilliant and varied.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5655 days

#15 posted 07-04-2007 11:09 PM

oooooooh myyyyyyy goodness!!!

Magnificent piece….. magnificent work…..... wonderful “how to” tips…

ha.. the “I hate you” definitely is the cream of the crop of compliments!!! :)

Well done. ‘Tis beautiful.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

showing 1 through 15 of 39 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics