Last weekend while attending the annual Arts and Crafts conference in Asheville, NC I spent a lot of time at the Antique Show. One of the benefits of this is being able to study a large sampling of arts and crafts furniture. In this post I’ll show you the many different ways I found to construct solid-wood legs. The following photos show four different ways that settle legs were assembled circa 1902 – 1910.
The first two photos show two different methods used by the L & JG Stickley Company. Commonly referred to as “four and core,” the first photo, taken from an L & JG Stickley settle offered by Michael Hingston Antiques of Enta, NH, shows a leg constructed of four pieces of wood that have been shaped with what looks like an early precursor to the locking-miter joint. During assembly a core is included to fabricate a solid wood leg. This leg is over 100 years old and shows no signs of delaminating.
The final L & JG Stickley example was taken from a settle found at the L & JG Stickley Company museum in Fayetteville, NY. It shows a two-piece technique, which employs a spline. Settle legs vary between 2 – 3 ½ “ square. So while splines are often used to increase gluing surface and produce a stronger joint that was probably not the case in this application. More likely they were used to align the two leg halves, or to add an interesting esthetic to the legs.
The remaining examples are taken from the furniture of Gustav Stickley. First, a photo that shows a two-piece construction technique. I found this example in the booth of Dalton’s American Decorative Arts from Syracuse, NY. What makes this leg stand out is the consistent grain and ray-fleck patterns evident in the two leg halves, which make it difficult to discern the glue line.
The final photo, taken from a settle offered by JMW Gallery of Boston, MA shows a three-part leg from a Gustav Stickley settle. Throughout the show I found three settle’s whose legs were constructed with this technique. In all three examples the three parts had the same thickness. This might have been a coincidence, but who knows? It’s also possible given the batch construction techniques used by Gustav Stickley, that the three thicknesses were leftover “scrap” from other processes.
These examples offer a glimpse of the methods used by the some of the Stickley brothers. However, there were other methods used, including various veneer methods used to present a ray-fleck pattern on all four sides, as well as other methods used on smaller legs used, such as those included on bedside tables and tabouret tables. I’ll leave those for a later post.