Chippendale Straight-top Highboy

by brae  

One of the rarer kits in the House of Miniatures line is the Chippendale Straight-top Highboy. I love the lines of it with the flat top, and I have seen some wonderfully updated highboys in real life. A coat of paint, a change of hardware, removing the finials on the base for a cleaner look....seems like a good place to start.

There are a lot of parts, and this kit was missing only one. I can't recall if this was a sealed kit since I had it open a bit before starting, but it's not uncommon for these kits to have missing or extra parts even if sealed.

Some parts are harder to replace. As luck would have it, since I've put together other House of Miniatures kits together before and always save unused parts, I had the very part I needed!  :O

I did things a little out of order in that I saved adding the legs until last. They are just too delicate to attach during the cabinet assembly. I also don't sand cabriole legs to a perfectly round finish. I like an elephant head top with its trunk descending into a webbed duck foot. :D

I sand and fill as I go, making adjustments as needed. I added trim to the upper sides to cover the ends of the shaped top. Ends of boards never take stain the same way as a flat grain face.

To that end, I moved the corbels over slightly and needed to change the trim on the side fronts since it wasn't wide enough to compensate for the adjustment. I cut a piece of matching trim for the top but didn't glue it right away. I needed to address the top drawers first.

While these kits are lovely and well made, they are not always the best fitting right out of the box even if you follow the steps precisely. If you look at real life example of highboys, you will see that the drawers are not inset. They have faces that cover each hole. This would be a better look overall, but this is not how these kits are designed. The upper three drawers were the most problematic.

The upright supports dividing the three upper drawers did not align well with the actual drawer front dimensions. The supports were glued into dados, so it wasn't something I could have prevented, but the supports also ended up crooked, which was my error. Some gaps I could live with, but this was too much.

I used a chisel to remove the original supports.

I cut new, thicker ones and set them in better position relative to the drawer widths. I first taped the drawers in relatively centered positions.

I set the new boards in place and used the drawers to fine tune.

The below picture is before I added wood filler but you can see the new dividers are already much better. Making this adjustment was going to be relatively invisible only because I planned to use black stain.

I then glued in the added trim to the top and attached the legs.

The stain I chose is Ebony by Rust-Oleum. I used a wood conditioner first, which evens out the stain application. I sanded with 600 grit between coats and buffed the finish with a paper towel before sealing with matte varnish. The dark color helps mask the gaps around the drawers and imperfections in the wood.

For hardware, I used fancy headpins. They are so-so in quality but photograph reasonably well. I will search for something to replace them eventually, so I didn't glue them in permanently. For a kit I started in January of last year, I can finally call it done!  :D

8 comments

Comment from: Betsy [Visitor]
Ooooh! Lovely work! At first I couldn't see where you were going with this... but wean you mentioned black stain I could see the goal! I think you have made a wonderful old piece modern classic! (If there is such a thing!) I love the elegant lines! And seeing you cope with the "rough spots" of the kit is always an education. Thank you for sharing your excellent work! :)
01/23/22 @ 19:04
Comment from: Barbara [Visitor]
You did a fantastic job! It's truly lovely. Thank you so much for all the tips and tricks. I'm about to embark on a desk kit and, having never built one of these kits before, find your information invaluable.
01/23/22 @ 22:39
Comment from: Anna [Visitor]
What a classy piece of furniture! I love your hint of hiding the end boards - the difference in colour when stained has always irritated me and I had never thought of adding a thin board. Very clever, thank you.
01/24/22 @ 00:13
Comment from: Debora [Visitor]
It turned out beautifully! I love the final finish.
01/25/22 @ 13:45
Comment from: Sheila [Visitor]
I really love how it looks! The black is wonderful and covering the ends of the boards is brilliant.
01/30/22 @ 14:48
Comment from: Marilyn D. [Visitor]  
Beautiful cabinet! I love your explanation of how to make the drawers fit and look better and also love the paint job which makes this classic furniture piece look totally modern. I will be looking at the House of Miniature kits I have with a new set of eyes from here on in. Thank you so much for sharing.
02/01/22 @ 09:20
Comment from: Claudia [Visitor]
Beautiful work! I've many of those kits, but I've never seen the kit for the highboy. It's lovely.
02/12/22 @ 08:46
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you so much, everyone! This piece has been on my to do list for a long time, and it feels good to have it finally completed. :>>
04/14/22 @ 14:36


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