Good substantial furniture that will last a lifetime and will stand any amount of knocking about is not easy to find, unless a price is paid too expensive for the majority.
There are so many simple and appropriate patterns sold by the magazines for making furniture, that it is well worth while for the amateur to consider whether she cannot save a considerable sum by making such things as chairs, book-cases, and screens herself - that is, if she is willing to put honest workmanship into the making.
The making of a hall chair or settee is not beyond the skill of a girl who enjoys carpentry, and it would not be necessary for her to saw the flat pieces out of the wood, as it can be done better and at a nominal cost at a saw-mill.
The patterns must be drawn on the lumber, so that the lines can be followed easily by the saw. 8
The chairs illustrated show good simple construction, but with the necessary strength to withstand the racking at the joints. Solid pieces take the place of rungs held in place by glue. The back is of one piece, the seat is a distinct piece, and a third forms the front part, thus making a chair consisting of three portions of lumber. This method of chair-making is called the loose key construction. Chairs made in this way can be knocked apart in a few minutes, and can be put together in almost as short a space of time. The tenons need not be too tightly wedged if they are soon to be pulled apart - the chairs illustrated have been made without glue or nails, and only a few screws have been used.
Many craft - workers think that only quartered oak should be used for making this straight - line furniture. The chairs, however, are made of plain, sawed white oak, which if properly selected has a beauty surpassing the quartered. The boards forming the legs are held together by a rail passing through a large mortise in each, and held in place by a key pushed through the projecting tenon. The legs extend by two tenons, dovetail-shaped, into corresponding mortises cut in the seat, and the legs are sprung apart at the top by this dovetailed mortise, by which both keys are tightened.
The question of economical spacing is often a serious problem when the living-room is small, and a good deal of thought is often required in planning for books. The ordinary book-case takes up a large amount of wall space, and it is often more practical to fit some shelves into the corners or recesses, especially when they can be combined with another piece of furniture.
Sometimes when a house has been built it is possible for the amateur to make some of the fitments from the architect's plans. One of the illustrations shows a clever arrangement of divan and book-case combined. While the house was being built the owner made this interesting piece of furniture from the plans of the architect. The trims and doorways of the living-room being of cypress, the same wood was, of course, used for the combined settee and book-case. A good water-colour was framed as the centre-piece. The shelves, supported by interesting brackets, or straight uprights, hold a good many books. Further room was provided by the addition of a magazine-stand built at one end. A clever arrangement at one side of it concealed the heating apparatus extending to the bedroom above. The door of a hinged closet was later made into a clock-face, and a clock was placed behind it; a quotation from Chaucer in slightly sunken lettering gave an additional note of interest to this piece of furniture: "As for me though that I konne but layte on bokes for to rede I me delyte."
The woodwork is stained a greenish brown, and seems to melt into the green-stained walls. Every inch of space is utilized, as doors, opening downwards, conceal a supply of winter's cord-wood underneath the bench. Red denim was used to cover the mattresses, and figured denim of the same colour formed the covering for the three large pillows. Green and red were introduced in the smaller pillows, which are covered with cretonne.
A very pretty corner seat can be made when the window comes near the corner, and the doorway is in the centre of the other wall. A seat can be run to the corner and return again to the longer wall to the doorway, and must be finished off at the side with a winged end. Two loose cushions will form a seat, and a piece of the same material with which they are covered can be carried up against the wall to a height of 2 or 3 feet, over a padded back made of unbleached muslin and moss. This can be capped with two shelves for books, and makes a convenient and decorative corner seat and a book-case combined. Care must be taken when placing the bookshelves that they are at the right height, so that when arising from the seat the head is not knocked against the bookshelves. Naturally they are narrow, so that this can easily be avoided.
Divan And Bookcase Made By Mr. II. W. Hetzel.
Irregularity in bookshelves adds very much to their artistic appearance. Shelving can be run from a corner of the room to a window to the height of about 7 feet. Below the window two or three shelves can be run, and the bookshelves finished at the far side of the window. This breaks up the wall pleasingly and economizes space.
A window-sill effect can be given when the window is high enough by simply arranging shelving on the line below the window, but the space should be at least wide enough to allow for three rows of books, or it will look meaningless.
Sometimes we are confronted by the fact that there is actually no wall space left for books when all the furniture is in the room, but this difficulty can be overcome by placing a couple of long shelves above the furniture. This is very pretty when placed high above a divan or sofa, when two groups of bookshelves, each consisting of two shelves, are placed on different walls in the room. This gives accommodation for a large number of books. The bottom shelf can be supported by wooden brackets, which must be of a really artistic shape in order to look well. A paper pattern should be cut out and sent to the saw-mill so that the bracket is made the exact shape and size required. The top shelf is better supported by iron brackets, as these are so flat they do not interfere with the books, and although ugly they are hidden by the books.