Refurbished Walnut and Oak Pulpit from 1879

  • Advertise with us
Project by J. Curtis Goforth posted 10-06-2015 07:24 PM 1295 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I pastor a church that is 214 years old, and we still have the pulpit from a previous sanctuary that was on the property that dates from 1879. It was made of walnut, but had been covered with some horrible reddish opaque stain back in the 1920’s. So, a congregant and I decided to refurbish it and make it suitable for use in the current worship space instead of the current pulpit that had been purchased from a catalog in the 1960’s.

It needed a lot of work because it had been removed from its original base and a rough sawn oak board had been nailed to the bottom of it. To make it usable, we added a sturdy base to the pulpit made of walnut and some 317 year old white oak to edge it, along with a book rest I designed (with elements from the original pulpit’s frame and panel construction with lambs tongue details and walnut plugs at the mortise and tenon joints). The old oak was a nice complement to the walnut.

Instead of a stain we simply did an finish of tung oil and several coats of wax. My congregant did most of the work (since he is retired) and I also made an oak drawer to provide some storage underneath the book rest. To make it jive with the rest of the piece, I thought it was only appropriate to have the drawer be made with hand cut through dovetails. The drawer is lined with burgundy suede leather and is just big enough to fit a hymnal and a few odds and ends.

Just a note: If you want to try your hand at cutting dovetails by hand, it’s probably not the best idea to start with quartersawn white oak because it is hard! The joints are by no means perfect, but given the fact that it was going on a pulpit from 1879 I think it fits in a little better with the overall piece since it is a bit rustic, right??? Thanks for looking.

5 comments so far

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 3074 days

#1 posted 10-07-2015 09:08 AM

Nice project and the finished job looks great. Was there a reason for using those right angle brackets. You couldn’t come up underneath and screw the base on from the underside?

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View ChadRat6458's profile


91 posts in 2604 days

#2 posted 10-07-2015 12:53 PM

Pulpits are some of the best projects. Great job.

-- WWW.SKYKAE.COM - Custome Wood Furniture and Signs WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/SkyKae.Kreations

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17536 posts in 3868 days

#3 posted 10-07-2015 01:05 PM

Good looking product from the public side, but ‘ditto’ on those brackets.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View J. Curtis Goforth's profile

J. Curtis Goforth

61 posts in 4174 days

#4 posted 10-09-2015 02:07 AM

We’re going to paint the brackets so that they don’t stand out quite so bad. This thing was in terrible shape when we started the refurbishment…there were over forty nails that had been toenailed into the bottom of the pulpit to attach the second base that had been put on it. It is also screwed from underneath, but it needed a bit more reinforcement still. I’ll try to post a picture of the “before” pulpit in a few days.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17536 posts in 3868 days

#5 posted 10-09-2015 04:18 AM

I totally understand. Sometimes your choices are limited!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

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