Jerry Cousins' Highboy

Hidden compartments hold secrets for a special granddaughter.

SHOP OWNER: Jerry Cousins
LOCATION: Weaverville, CA

    This highboy is a gift for my two-year-old granddaughter. Although I used to be in the "nail pounding" business, I am now making projects for myself. The total intermittent time I spent on this cherry highboy was just over a year.
    This is not an authentic reproduction. I decided not to use dovetails on the drawers, but instead used a locking rabbet joint. However, I did use dovetails on the carcass stretchers and sides. The lower section sides and back are mortised into the legs. I used Blum under mount drawer guides. Although very expensive, they are totally hidden, and have a great closing action.
    I sanded everything to 220, then applied three coats of lacquer undercoat, three coats of semi-gloss topcoat--sanded with 400 grit between applications, with a final rubbing with 0000 steel wool--and finally two coats of wax.
    Although I had sprayed water based finishes before, this was my first time using lacquer. Since I don't have a safe enclosed area for spraying, the onset of cold weather pushed me to finish it up.

Jerry Cousins' Highboy

Jerry's Highboy - Drawers


    In the spirit of the period I included two hidden compartments. In the lower section, when the left hand drawer is removed, there is a release mechanism that allows a false interior panel to fall free. The space is the width of the cabriole leg's upper stock. There is a similar makeup on the right side (so it looks visually identical) but there is no compartment.
    The crown molding on the upper section hides a second compartment. Removing the center drawer allows access to another release mechanism. This allows the entire molding to slide forward (not just the front piece, but the whole u-shaped molding, so the corner joints are solid) revealing a recessed tray. The molding slides on a dovetail runner.

    This was also my first try at carving, a real test of patience. It afforded me the opportunity (read as "excuse") to buy a nice set of carving chisels.

Jerry's Highboy - Carving Detail

    It really was a wonderful and fun project to focus on, but I'm glad it's done. Although family members know there are some secrets, I am not telling them how or where. I signed the piece and left messages in each, so someday when she discovers them she'll learn a little more about me.
. . . Jerry Cousins




This is the place to share views of your shop, woodworking tips and methods,
mug shots, special tools or machines, finished work--you name it!
    We prefer digital images via e-mail, but prints or transparencies will do. Include your name, address, phone number and a paragraph or two explaining the photo(s). Not every entry will be used, we reserve the right to edit for length and clarity, and we will not return photos.

P.O. Box 493
Springtown, PA 18081