I've always liked the simple lines and understated elegance of furniture from the Arts and Crafts / Mission period of furniture design (most of it, anyway). I realized early on, however, that the only way I was ever going to own anything like that (of any appreciable quality) was to build it myself as most of the quality
furniture in that style would be considered "boutique" furniture..... complete with a "boutique" price of at least one arm .... possibly a leg ... maybe an eye.....
I did a bit of searching and came up with some plans sold by Wood Magazine
. Although I felt their design was a good starting point, I definitely wanted a longer and deeper version of the couch (since couches are for naps, too, and I don't fit in a standard-sized couch) and I wanted to add a little of my own style - so I used their plans as a basic starting point and went from there. I ended up making the couch 1-1/2" deeper and 6" longer (notice these dimensions are multiples of 3/4"), abandoning some of their details, and adding a few of my own.
I won't be covering in-depth dimensions and details because I feel that wouldn't be fair to the folks at Wood Magazine who's plans I used as a foundation (so, buy those plans!), but I will
be pointing out what I consider to be the weak areas in their design and the modifications I did to tailor the design more to my personal preferences. As always I'll include a few of the tricks, trials, and tribulations that go with a project like this.
Originally, I planned on making multiple pieces and selling some of them to pay for materials - buuuuut ...... I never got around to the selling part - lol. I ended up building two settles (couches), a loveseat, and a chair. The settles and chair are constructed from Quarter-sawn (QS) Red Oak, and the loveseat is Philippine Mahogany and Australian Lacewood. I'd also planned on using QS White Oak (the traditional material for these pieces) as I wanted to use the ammonia "fuming" process to create the final color, BUT finding Quarter-sawn White Oak in any appreciable quality/quantity has become a lot harder over the years - so I settled for QS Red Oak. Red Oak, BTW, does NOT turn a nice dark patina like White Oak does when fumed with ammonia - it turns a sickly green. Really
Building quality furniture isn't exactly cheap - but then costs are relative. I spent about $4000 on materials alone for this entire project - BUT - I produced four pieces of heirloom quality furniture that will (barring an errant nuke or house fire) be around longer than I will. I didn't skimp on any of the materials - it's all top-shelf stuff - and unlike most modern furniture, these are completely rebuild-able. I would imagine that if you wanted to build something a little more budget-conscious, you could build a decent settle for around $650-$800 - but when you consider that these couches sell for upwards of $4000 - $7500 each, $4000 in materials for all of them (not counting labor) isn't all that bad.
It's a bit difficult for me to estimate the time I spent because these were built over a period of around 8 months on and off. I started in the Fall and worked part way through Winter, and so I had to wait for decent weather to spray the final finish - so - a big part of that 8 months was spent with my living room filled with couch frames waiting for it to get above 70 Degrees F outside :) I think a reasonable estimate to build one of these would be roughly 60-80 hours for an intermediate woodworker.