Making Authentic Craftsman Furniture: Instructions and Plans for 62 Projects

Making Authentic Craftsman Furniture: Instructions and Plans for 62 Projects

by Gustav Stickley

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Rejecting the "badly constructed, over-ornate, meaningless" furniture of the late Victorian period, architect, furniture designer and manufacturer Gustav Stickley developed a radical new design concept that stressed careful workmanship, simplicity, and utility. His important monthly magazine The Craftsman (1901–16) published construction plans for his

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Rejecting the "badly constructed, over-ornate, meaningless" furniture of the late Victorian period, architect, furniture designer and manufacturer Gustav Stickley developed a radical new design concept that stressed careful workmanship, simplicity, and utility. His important monthly magazine The Craftsman (1901–16) published construction plans for his distinctly American furniture.
The 62 simple, straightforward projects reprinted here — exquisite examples of Stickley's classic designs — first appeared in The Craftsman between 1903 and 1907. Included are projects large and small enough to satisfy the household needs and creative urges of any woodworker. Make authentic reproductions of handsome, functional, sturdy Craftsman home furnishings from bookcases to bedsteads, dressers to dining tables, a hall tree, a foot rest, a wood-box and more — future family heirlooms that will stand the test of time both in durability and in clean, elegant purity of line. Each project includes Stickley's original information for woodworkers of the early 1900s: a perspective drawing of the completed piece; a brief description of the item with suggestions for appropriate choices of wood; a "mill bill" giving complete lumber specifications; and schematic drawings showing both front and side views with accurate measurements.
All woodworkers, even beginners, will delight in this collection of genuine Stickley plans for 62 of the finest, most desirable pieces of Craftsman or "mission-style" furniture. Antique collectors, furniture restorers, and historians of American style also will appreciate the detailed information on an influential design movement enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

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Dover Publications
Publication date:
Dover Woodworking Series
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Product dimensions:
8.13(w) x 10.92(h) x 0.38(d)

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Making Authentic Craftsman Furniture

Instructions and Plans for 62 Projects

By Gustav Stickley

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1986 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-25000-7



THIS piece of furniture is designed for a foot rest, but might find plenty of use in a house, especially in a bedroom, where it could be used for a slipper stool. Its construction needs no further explanation than is apparent from the drawing. The wood could well be one of the harder variety: oak, chestnut, mahogany or maple—either fumed or stained. The seat cover could be of leather or tapestry fastened with brass, copper or iron nails. For a section showing the method of upholstering, attention is called to the plans of the desk chair shown on page 15.

A Man's Dressing Cabinet

ONE seldom finds a more simple, convenient object of household use than the man's dressing cabinet here illustrated, which combines the functions usually filled by two or three pieces, by uniting them into a compact whole. The cabinet has the additional advantages of being pleasing in appearance, and so simple in construction that any craftsman may easily build it, in accordance with the subjoined directions.

The dimensions of the piece are fifty-four inches in height by thirty-six inches wide and twenty-four inches deep, with a framing of seven-eighth inch stuff, as indicated, and with one-half inch panels. The doors are provided with strap-hinges, and, on the inside, are lettered with such inscriptions as may suit the fancy of the individual builder.

The large, topmost drawer, running the entire length of the piece, is five inches deep, and is designed for a general utility place. The small upper drawer at the right, is fitted, like a change-drawer, with six saucer-like divisions for shirt, collar, and sleeve buttons, and other small objects which are easily lost. Behind lies a space for handkerchiefs. This drawer, the one beneath it, and the two on the left are five inches deep.

The compartments in the center of the cabinet and those which are beneath the small lateral drawers pull out. Their dimensions are ten and one-half by ten inches.

The two large trays at the bottom are used, the one for shoes, and the other for trousers. The space thus afforded, permits the garments to be laid aside without folding at the knee.

By this device, as well as by the other provisions of the cabinet, all folding and rumpling of clothing are obviated. Furthermore, when the doors are opened, the wardrobe lies ready for use : a saving of time which will be appreciated by the hard-working business or professional man of many engagements, for whom a minute saved is sometimes a fortune gained.


IN building this chair put all together excepting the arms, and when the glue is dry the arm dowells are fitted and the back ones shoved into place; then, by pressure, the front will spring into its proper position. All dowells are well glued, and the glue is warmed before using. Attention is called also to the joining of the seat rails, also the three-eighths of an inch cut from the bottom of the back post after the chair is put together. This makes a little slant back to the seat, and gives a comfortable posi-to the sitter. The back slats of the chairs are slightly curved. This is done by thoroughly wetting or steaming the wood and pressing it into shape—then allowing it to dry. The accompanying drawing will illustrate a device for this purpose, which for the amateur is quite as practical as a steam press.


THESE pieces are almost identical in construction, yet differ in size and shape of the top. Either one would be a useful addition to almost any room for the purpose of holding a jardiniere, while the larger one might be used as a small tea table.

A few construction points may be noted: Where the tenons of the legs come through the top they should be wedged—then planed flush with the top. In cutting the mortises for the stretchers of the square tabouret note that there is one-half an inch difference in the heights of the two stretchers. A dowel pin three-eights of an inch in diameter runs all the way through the legs holding the tenon of the stretcher—this is planed off flush with the sides of the leg.

Any soft wood, as pine or white wood, may be used, or the harder woods, if desired.


THIS table is rather a heavy one in design and could well be used for a den, living room, library or man's room. The legs slanting outward give it a sturdy appearance. It could be used as a jardiniere stand, to hold a cigar-box and ash tray, or on a hot day a place to rest a tray with cool drinks.

Little needs to be said concerning its construction, as what has already been said about the preceding tables covers this one with possibly the exception of the stretcher keys—these must not be driven so hard as to split the wood which there is some danger of doing at the end of the tenons.

Any soft wood, as pine or white wood, may be used, or the harder woods, if desired.


THIS piece is designed for use in a room where a light treatment is carried out and would make a good bedroom or sewing room table and might possibly find its place, for occasional use, in a living room.

The construction is very simple and little need be said except that all the joints should be well made so the table will be rigid—especially the brace under the top which keeps the piece firm. The top is fastened on with "table irons." A full-sized sketch is here given—these irons are first screwed to the top braces—then the work is turned up-side-down and the screws put in which fasten the top to the base.

Use oak, chestnut, mahogany, or any medium hard wood.


THIS is a table suited to many uses. Its top when opened, is forty inches square—quite large enough to be used as a breakfast table, and for a living room. Its chief advantage is that when the leaves are dropped the space occupied by it is very small, so that it can be moved back out of the way against the wall. A little clever handling of the wood will be needed to make a good joint where the leaves join the top, and careful attention is called to the enlarged detail shown on the plans—also note that the wood needs to be taken out the width of the hinge to allow for the eye of the hinge—these should be two inches wide and placed about four inches from the ends, secured with plenty of screws:


Use oak, cherry, maple, or one of the hard woods.


IN building a chair the sides are put together separately and then the front and back rails and stretchers last, the side seat rails being mortised and tenoned, the front and back seat rails are dowelled, thereby pinning the tenons. The slight difference in the length of the front and back legs gives a comfortable slant to the seat. The back slats are curved, which is done by thoroughly soaking the wood with water, or better, steaming it and then pressing it into shape and allowing it to dry in the little press which is shown herewith.


A GOOD screen is one of the very useful things which go toward the furnishing of a house. The one given herewith is of such a size that it is convenient for general use and not so heavy as to be hard to move about from room to room wherever it may be needed. The wood of which it is made may vary, but we will suppose it is made of poplar, a light weight wood, and stained gray-green. The fabric part of the screen may be inexpensive or of medium price as, for instance, a Japanese silk of a green tone just a little darker than the wood stain, a quiet color effect which would harmonize with almost any color scheme.

The curtain hangs on quarter inch solid brass rods at top and bottom. Care will need to be taken in cutting and fitting the dovetails which project one-sixteenth of an inch beyond the face of the panel. The panels being V-jointed and splined gives them a chance to shrink and swell without making ugly looking cracks.


THIS piece of furniture is one that would take the place of the ordinary chintz-covered cracker-box which, placed under a window, makes a convenient window-seat. If the tray were left out it could be used as a hall chest and a place to keep overshoes. Here it would be made of oak and its top covered with leather fastened by brass or copper nails.

The top is made firm by two strips running across the ends into which the center portion is tongued. The till is simply a box without any bottom and around the lower edge is tacked a piece of light weight canvas. This makes all the bottom necessary and adds much to the lightness of the tray. Small loops of canvas, by which it can be lifted, are tacked to the ends.


THIS garden bench is made of white cedar stock stripped of the bark and left in the natural color which in time takes a silver gray tone and a beautiful texture. The seat rails, back and arms are smoothly planed so that no rough, disturbing places are left. Each piece will need to be fitted with care, as after the tenon and mortise are cut the entire stick must be slightly set into the piece to which it is joined. This prevents the water from getting into the joint and makes a workmanlike job. A chair can easily be made from these plans by making the front and back rails twenty-six inches in length and using only eight rails for the seat.


THIS is a useful piece in any living room where loose papers and magazines are apt to accumulate. The purpose in making it larger at the bottom is to attain greater symmetry and to give the idea of stability. A perfectly vertical stand would appear narrower at the bottom than at the top.

Put together the entire end first, then the shelves, the top and bottom ones, however, being last. Do not drive the keys in tenon holes hard enough to split the wood. Note that the three center shelves are slightly let in at full size into the posts and end uprights.

As such a stand may need to be moved, it is appropriate that it be made of soft wood if desirable. Whether of hard or soft wood it should be suitably colored.


THIS useful piece is of good size, having a top thirty-two by fifty-four inches. Instead of having a shelf underneath, a series of slats, placed at a slight distance apart, is introduced. In building it, put the ends together first. The sides of the drawers are dovetailed, and each drawer has a stop underneath it to keep it from going in too far. This stop should hold the face of the drawer one-sixteenth of an inch back of the front rail. The practical reason for this is that, should the piece shrink in any degree, the unevenness is less likely to show when the drawer is thus slightly recessed. Bevel off the lower edges of the legs to prevent tearing the carpet, and carefully sandpaper the edges of the top to remove the sharpness. Oak is the best material of which to construct this table, as it is needed to be substantial, strong and firm. The pulls are of copper or iron, hammered preferably, yet any good pulls will serve admirably.


THIS simple, yet almost necessary piece in a well equipped house, is made of oak, mahogany or other suitable hard wood. It is six feet high, with a door the whole size of the front. The upper part is a glass panel and the lower is filled with square panes. Small butt hinges are used for the door, and it is made so as to lock.

The face is made of wood with the figures burned on, or of metal. If preferred the enameled zinc or tin face usually supplied with the clock movements may be used, though we like the wood or metal better. The face is twelve inches square. If the case is made of mahogany, a brass face is most appropriate; if of oak, a copper face. If a wooden face is used it should be of a light colored wood with fine grain, such as holly or orange.


THE lines and proportions of this dining table are especially good. The octagonal legs and the graceful curve of the central braces give the piece a distinct style. The top is removable, having the braces which keep it from warping dove-tailed in and only fastened with a screw at the center, no glue being used, so that the top can shrink or swell slightly without doing any harm whatever. The mortise and tenon construction is used throughout with the exception of these dove-tailed top braces and the central shaped braces, which are secured by strong five-eighths inch dowels. When put together all the corners should be carefully taken off with a scraper and well sanded and then the finish applied. This table would be a suitable one to be used in a large living room or library, although it has the name of dining table attached to it.


WHAT has been said concerning the construction of chairs in previous numbers will apply to the work on this piece—as no new or unusual features appear unless it be in the back post, which is slanted on the outside, giving the chair an added quaintness. The seat and back are covered with heavy leather which must be stretched on when wet, and fastened with small headed tacks, care being taken to place the tacks so that the large heads of the ornamental nails will cover them. The leather must be allowed to dry thoroughly before the edge is trimmed.


THIS writing desk is a piece of cabinet work which will depend, for its good appearance, upon well selected wood and good work, the entire face of the piece being flush—a single line out of true would mar the effect of the whole. The dove-tailing at the top and the shelf mortised through the sides at the bottom gives a firm and structural appearance. The slides, upon which the lid rests when down, have a small pin at about three inches from the back which stops the slide from pulling too far out. The doors and lid are cross veneered so that warping and shrinking are, to an extent, overcome. The hardware should be inconspicuous so that the beauty of wood grain and the simple lines will be accentuated.


THIS piece is designed to hold things as well as books. The top is fastned in place by half inch dowells placed not farther than three inches apart. The shelves are tenoned and the sides rabbited to within one and one-half inches of the front to receive them. The construction of the lattice as shown on the plans is as follows: The 3-16 inch stock for the face is halved at the intersecting points and on the backs are glued the 3-16 inch × 5-16 inch strips.


The construction of the bedstead will be found one of the easiest given in our series of cabinet work but should be one of the most satisfactory. Care must be taken in making the keys which hold the side rails so that the end wood will not break out when the key is driven into place. The strips on the side rails are to be screwed in place, using six or eight screws on each rail.


THE construction of this chair is very similar to the desk chair on pages 14–15 of this edition. The back slats are curved in the same way and the seat rails are tenoned and dowelled in a like manner. The arms of the adjustable tray are cut from a single piece of wood, and the back ends are splined by sawing straight in, to a point beyond the curve and inserting in the opening made by the saw, a piece of wood cut with the grain and well glued so giving strength to a point that would otherwise be very weak. Pages 14–15 also show the method of upholstering the seat.


A swing seat made on the lines of this one is a very simple piece to construct. The posts are halved into the seat rails and fastened with two do-well pins. The back and end slats are tenoned into the seat rails and the seat itself is made comfortable by weaving in a bottom of cane. This will stand the weather, and if the swing were used on an exposed porch there would be no fear of warping as in a broad wood seat. Use oak or chestnut fumed brown for the wood with wrought iron chains.


THIS piece is very simple in construction, but an unusually graceful design. Its beauty is much enhanced by the work done with the gouge on the sharp curve that appears in the top line of the back, and that occurs again in the bracket under the door. As will be noted, the cutting is deep at the sharpest point of the curve, and fades away gradually as the curve flattens. The front edge of the small bracket underneath is also cut away. The edge of the shelf under the floor is rounded, and the top is shaped underneath into a very flat ogee moulding. The long strap hinges, which are good in design and clever in construction, are of hammered brass. This cabinet is very convenient as a storage place for valued trifles and also to hold a few favorite books.


THIS is a very useful piece of house furniture that is simple and easy to build. The working drawing shows exactly the method of construction. The best method of fastening the piece together is to screw the shelves to the back, and to fasten the back itself with small round-headed screws. The convenience of this piece will be apparent at a glance. It may either be used as a book shelf, or to hold many other things, such as bottles and small toilet accessories in a sleeping room or bath room.


Excerpted from Making Authentic Craftsman Furniture by Gustav Stickley. Copyright © 1986 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Furniture maker and architect Gustav Stickley (1858–1942) was a leading spokesman for the American Craftsman movement, a design trend descended directly from the British Arts and Crafts movement.

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