Philadelphia Card Table in the Shadow of Thomas Affleck
My biggest concern heading into the class was that I am not a big power tool user. I do not have a table saw. But, they help you understand how to set up the tools and give you options on how to approach a specific task. Plans are provided when you arrive, and you go through all the steps. There were a couple of power tool setups where your hand might be close to the blade. I saw and understood the setup, then had Jeff run the piece through for me on a couple of occasions. At home, I would have used my hand tools for these tight operations. I did manage to use my trusty Stanley 55 plane to fashion the flutes on the legs, while the others used the router.
|At the Headley Workshop|
The finish consisted of several coats of pure tung oil, waiting two weeks, followed by multiple thin layers of Zinsser's clear shellac diluted with denatured alcohol using a french polisher made from an old T-shirt.
I stayed at the George Washington Hotel in downtown Winchester for the class. Coincidentally, Thomas Affleck happened to have stayed nearby for several months from 1777-1778 just two blocks south at the Golden Buck Inn (no longer existing, but located just south of Boscawen Street on the west side of Cameron St). How did a Philadelphia cabinetmaker wind up in Winchester, Virginia?
Affleck, a Scottish immigrant, arrived in Philadelphia in 1763, and shortly thereafter opened up his shop for business. He had major commissions from the Penn and Cadwalader families that kept him and his competitors in town quite busy. He and Benjamin Randolph, among others, became well known for their ornate Philadelphia style. Thomas Affleck was born of devout Quaker parents. Thomas did not completely hold to the tenets of his religion having married outside of his denomination, which almost had him removed. Also interesting is that many early Quakers avoided fanciness of material possessions, yet the Philadelphia style of furniture had no equal in terms of embellishment. Notwithstanding these facts, Affleck still held to many Quaker ideals. A year after the Declaration of Independence, there was a general uneasiness for those that did not fully support the Revolution. Affleck took no side as he was a pacifist. Through a convoluted order, about 40 prominent Philadelphia Quakers, including Affleck, were ordered to meet at a local Masonic hall where they were not even questioned, but banished from living in Philadelphia.
|An original card table attributed to Thomas Affleck from the Kaufman Collection at the National Gallery of Art made of mahogany.|
|The reproduction card table using cherry|
|The type of ambient lighting seems to change the color and grain visibility significantly|
|For the table top profile, I started out using a carriage makers plane to make the fillet and planned on using a scratch stock for the roundover. The corners proved too challenging, so I went with one of those newfangled electric routers.|
|The gadrooning, rope twist and carved brackets on the museum piece may have been fashioned by one of several master carvers (Hercules Courtenay, John Pollard, Nicholas Bernard, or Martin Jugiez) that Affleck employed.|
|As you might notice, no master carvers hired for this one.|
A Zamboni Bros. Production