Tempo Carpentry & Design Inc.

San Juan Capistrano, CA


Project: Antique French Buffet

Year Established: 1998

Shop size: 2,500 square feet

No. of employees: 8-10

Specialty: European woodwork

Project Notes: TCD created all the original artwork and hand carved each individual piece before and during assembly.


Residential Furniture:

Replicating Art

This antique French buffet features crisp, hand-carved relief throughout the piece.

By Michaelle Bradford

Tempo Carpentry & Design has made its reputation by creating unique and challenging architectural woodwork. So Gabriel McKeagney, president, was not surprised when a client "with an acute appreciation for the art of fine European woodworking" tore an image of an antique French buffet from an old book and asked him to reproduce it. The result was a winning entry in the residential furniture category.

TCD's Reproduction Antique French Buffet was constructed of solid alder and incorporates: traditional, reproduction antique French hardware supplied by J. Nicolas Hardware in Corona del Mar, CA; antique distressed finish supplied by Kahn Enterprises in Santa Ana, CA; and a stone top manufactured and supplied by a local stone company, McKeagney says.

This reproduction antique French buffet is constructed of solid alder. Crisp, hand-carved relief is featured throughout the piece.

The buffet features S-shaped doors and intricate hand-carved reliefs throughout the piece. McKeagney says that TCD created all the original artwork and hand carved each individual piece before and during assembly. "Our Mexican master woodcarver spent months studying and perfecting his understanding of the French aesthetic to complete a breathtaking work of art," he adds.

TCD pulled off this challenging project by drafting the carcass on CAD. Initial parts for carcass construction were created on a CNC machine. "The most difficult part of this construction was the S-shaped doors," McKeagney notes. "The exterior and interior S's were different, as were the right and left, so that we had to make four unique doors for each cabinet."

McKeagney says that the master template for the buffet was produced on a CNC machine, and they used laminated plywood to simulate door shapes. "We then used our Terrco carving duplication machine to shape the doors in solid wood," he adds.

Creating an exact replica of antique European woodworking can be a daunting task. Even TCD employees were amazed at the quality of work they achieved for the French buffet, McKeagney says. "The day we installed the escutcheon plates on the keyhole and stood back to admire the final fruits of our labor, we were awed that it truly looked 300 years old," he says. "The graceful wave from the apron to the leg cap and back to the apron -- creating a timeless motion across the piece -- would captivate and enthrall any discerning art lover."

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