‘Old World’ techniques were used to create this winning replication.


Kinloch Woodworking Ltd.,

Unionville, PA


Project: “Charleston sideboards”

Year Established: 1982

# of Employees: 12

Shop Size: 4,000 square feet

Specialty: Custom furniture

Project Notes: Thomas Sheraton’s book, “Drawing Book,” published in 1793, was used to come up with a geometric formula for the stringing on the legs.

The overall winner in this year’s Design Portfolio competition was this Charleston sideboard, fabricated by Kinloch Woodworking in Unionville, PA.

This “Old World” piece captivated our judges with its exquisite lines, attention to details and historical accuracy.

According to furniture maker Michael Zuba Sr., the client requested a pair of sideboards for his home and left the design work up to the company. Owner Doug Mooberry chose the Charleston sideboards because “he felt the proportions were nice.”

Zuba says that it then became his responsibility to come up with the design. He did extensive research on similar pieces in Charleston, SC.

“I went to Charleston to study the different pieces that they had in museums and other homes. And that’s where I got different ideas [for design] — from the different elements of furniture in that area.”

Back at the shop, Zuba came up with a working drawing to figure out the construction of the piece. “And, in the shop, we all discussed it and talked about the best ways of building it from the different examples that I found. Once we nailed the design, then it was my responsibility to take it from the start to the end in the building process.”

The sideboard features South American mahogany, South American crotch mahogany, ebony and maple stringing (milled in the Kinloch shop) and brass pulls.

Zuba says that they searched their entire inventory for the crotch mahogany veneer and chose what was best for the piece. Then they looked at what they had for stringing and inlay. “We had to purchase ebony,” he says. “Any of the stringing or inlay used on the piece we had to produce ourselves. So we started out with full stock thickness and then milled it down to the small string size that we needed. That way we obtained the color and the size that we needed.”

One of the challenges of this project was the design on the leg of the piece. The stringing was crisscrossed and graduated, so Zuba says that he had to research how to mathematically figure out the design.

“It was so particular; not only did the height of the crisscross graduate evenly as it went down, the width of it zigzagged,” he says. “All of those little details are so important, or else it looks like you just slapped the veneer on. Our client was very particular about those [details].”

To help, Zuba referred to a book published in 1793 by Thomas Sheraton, “Drawing Book.” From this book, he was able to develop a geometric formula of “graduating the crossovers and the width of the stringing so that it was in proper proportion.

“The book is in ‘Old English,’ so we had to figure out what it meant. Once we did figure out the different formulas, it just laid itself out. It was so easy,” he says.

Other details of the fabrication include 18th century joinery — deep-mortise tenons that join the front and back of the case and hand-cut dovetail drawers. To prevent seasonal wood movement and to create a more stable construction, the “center doors are veneered over layers of thin ply, set with epoxy to ensure consistent form to its shape and tight tolerance to the fit,” says Zuba. “The maple string on the legs was laid out and cut with a small router and end mill.”

Zuba also says that, “One of the most trying experiences was to have the inlay cut and properly fit the design and the top drawer and the side quarter panels. So I first veneered the crotch mahogany over a piece of thicker plain mahogany. Then, while flat, I set my string and then pressed it over the form with the substrate.”

From start to finish, the project took about a year to complete and now these beautiful sideboards flank the dining room doorway of the client’s historic home.

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