arched top adds design flair and extra storage room.
When designing a chest, it's often a challenge to make something
that's different. As is always the case with my furniture, the
adage "form follows function" guided my thoughts, as
I designed this piece for my client's son. My design called for
two main storage areas: a larger upper area to be accessed from
the top and a drawer below. The serpentine arched top, the construction
of which is the focus of this article, was included after I'd
completed the original sketch. It added elegance that I felt
was lacking originally. As for the materials, I chose two complementary
woods: yellow birch for the body and the drawer and cherry for
the arched top, base molding and drawer beading.
Making the Arched Top
Many cabinetmakers build the most complex parts of a piece of
furniture before working on everything else. I adopted that
method; that's why I elected to tackle the arched top first.
Using other chests I'd made as a reference, I settled on the
dimensions shown in the sketches.
panels, such as the one needed for this top, can be made in
a number of ways. I chose the vacuum-veneer method, as it would
ensure dimensionally-stable panels that could be precisely fitted
into the chest top. I have a veneer press, but I could have
used clamps in lieu of the vacuum press to hold the laminations
in place until they were dry. Other methods call for the use
of solid-wood pieces glued together on a form and then shaped
by machine or by hand. I am not a fan of solid-wood panels for
captured panels, as the likelihood of warping is too high.
profile pieces for the laminating form