Heart of the Wood
Specializing in reproductions of 17th century furniture and woodwork

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About Boarded Furniture

 

Boarded furniture is so-called because the pieces are constructed of boards fastened together with nails.  This is the simplest and least expensive furniture of the 16th through 18th century (and in a sense, is so still - think of the particle-board and staples of today).  Contrary to common belief, nails were generally cheap throughout this period, and certainly afforded the least expensive means of fastening  wood together to make furniture.  Boarded work could be made by either carpenters or joiners, and was probably the most common furniture of this period due to its affordability.   It  survives in fewer numbers today because of its less-sturdy construction.

The most common forms of boarded furniture are chests and boxes - what are today referred to as 'bible boxes' and 'six-board chests'.   They can be found in a range of sizes and shapes, with decoration ranging from planed moldings, to scratch-work, to fairly elaborate carving.  Like most  of the other furniture forms of the period, the originals were often paint-decorated.   You will find examples of all of these styles in the boarded furniture pages.

Most boarded work of the 17th century uses sawn boards (pit-sawn in England, mill-sawn in New England) in its construction, although most smaller colonial boxes are made up of riven (i.e. split-out) stock (see our 'riving' pages for illustration).   These pieces were often made with unseasoned (or poorly seasoned) stock, as can be seen by the distortion of the boards in many original pieces.   This is one kind of construction (unlike joined or turned work) which can be harmed by  the use of unseasoned wood - it is undoubtedly a contributing factor in the demise of many of the original pieces.

If you would like a list of books with good illustrations of 17th century furniture for further visual reference, check our bibliography page.

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