Clint Searl's Tansu Units

Japanese styling and sophisticated finishes grace this woodland home.

SHOP OWNER: Clint Searl
LOCATION: Kintnersville, PA

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I took these photos on a recent visit to Clint Searl's house just a few miles away. Clint and his wife Natalie have crafted a beautiful home and lifestyle for themselves in a lovely woodland setting. I probably would never have met Clint if not for WoodCentral.
    Every room in the house is furnished with Clint's impeccable Japanese-influenced handiwork. I asked Clint to provide some background on the photos. Here's what he had to say...]

Tansu Units
    The pair of pieces pictured here is another version of traditional Japanese furniture design (tansu). Together they measure 76" W x 34" H x 20" D. Construction is solid cherry, including the back panels, joined with exposed dovetails. The cherry has been left to age naturally under several coats of nitrocellulose lacquer. The sliding door panels are etched cork flooring tile laminated to ¼” plywood, finished with gold pearlescent auto lacquer. All the hardware is solid brass that has been chemically blackened and lacquered. On the top of the units is a piece (only the edge is visible) of natural edge spalted maple that sits on spacers, two of which are adjustable to accommodate any slight twist or out-of-level condition. Over the tansu is a picture I framed out of clear pine 1x6 and stock moldings, with oil-sized 23-carat gold leaf over a red/orange base coat.
Clint Searl's Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom Overview
    In addition to the dresser/storage complex (see photo, below), the bedroom also includes a pair of sconces made of stained cypress and rice paper pages from an antique Japanese accounting book. The bench at the foot of the bed has a top made of an English yew slab with natural edges from a tree that was more than 100 years old. The trestle base with pegged-through tenons is in cherry. The finish is tung oil and boiled linseed oil. The headboard is knotty elm with a little spalting, lagged to wall studs, finished with nitrocellulose lacquer. The night stands are topped with slabs from a horse chestnut burl, and the bases are made of beech. The bases are oiled, while the tops are finished with water-based poly, which has been wet sanded to 400 and rubbed out with auto polishing compound.
Clint Searl's Bedroom Tansu

Master Bedroom Tansu
    This shot shows three of the five pieces which will be a complete dresser/storage complex in my interpretation of a traditional Japanese step-chest (kaidan dansu) design. Two more pieces of decreasing width will stack on the left. The blanket chest on the right is described in Shop Shot #172.
    The two stacked pieces on the left follow the theme of the chest, with wedged through-tenon, frame-and panel-construction. The frames are aniline-stained red oak, and the top, side, and back panels are made of 5/8” T&G laminated bamboo flooring. The drawer faces on the lower unit are of horsechestnut and the drawer faces and door frame of the upper unit are spalted maple. The door panels are copper with an acid patina. Finishing will be completed with nitrocellulose lacquer, rubbed out with 0000 steel wool and wax.
Clint Searl's Walnut Stickley Piece



    This is a loose copy of an early Gustav Stickley piece, of which there’s only one example thought to have been made around 1901. I found the design appealing because of the inclusion of curves, especially on the front of the lower shelf. It’s made of solid black walnut and measures 58" W x 40' H x 19" D. The top is a single piece, and all was hand planed from rough lumber. The drawer pulls are actually small brass door knockers. The finish is a light wash of Minwax red mahogany, topped with a couple coats of thinned oil poly.

. . . Clint Searl




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