Let the Campaign Begin

I guess we will find out how much you like Campaign Furniture. I just spent $2,500 on a load of 4/4 mahogany boards that are 16” and wider to build some campaign chests. Plus another $500 on 12/4 mahogany for a run of Roorkhee chairs.

First order of business: Build a full-blown campaign secretary before March 15.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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33 Responses to Let the Campaign Begin

  1. Rob says:

    Yah! See, there are benefits to self/unemployment. 🙂

  2. T.Mitchell says:

    Sounds like you’ll be spending some quality time with your #8… or #7, depending on your preference. Enjoy!

  3. Looking forward to it.

  4. Jonathan says:

    I am looking forward to this. I don’t know a lot about campaign furniture, but what I have seen, I like.

  5. ecrusch says:

    Can’t wait!
    Sharpen your irons my friend and let the shavings fly !

  6. Len Reinhardt says:

    very interested, looking forward to your posts…….what type of mahogany did you get?? African/Honduras?? Also be interested in their board foot price?
    Thanks, Len Reinhardt Franklin TN

  7. Derek Cohen says:

    Looking forward to the build, Chris. I wish I could find Mahogany like that. I’ve just completed two Military/Campaign Chests out of Jarrah.


    There’s a work-along on my website: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/index.html

    Regards from Perth


  8. Mike says:

    Is that your own sketch? If so, let me give you props for your 3 dimensional drafting skills.

    Now that you no longer work at PW let me ask, do you actually use sketchup before every build? Do you use it at all?

  9. Love working with Mahogany. Look forward to seeing finished project.

  10. badger says:

    Looking forward to it! I love campaign furniture (I call it Camp Furniture).

  11. You have hit all the right buttons for me as I have a real thing for campaign furniture and mahogany is my wood of choice. What I am really looking forward to gaining from your articles on this particular project is who your source will be for the hardware. Having searched extensively for campaign hardware in the past and the best I could find were cheap-looking, poorly cast or stamped imitations that are not even close to the originals.

    • Scott S. says:

      Lee Valley has some flush mount hardware in their catalog. I can’t vouch for the specific quality, but I have been satisfied with what I’ve used from them in the past.

      • Scott, I really appreciate your suggestion. I have checked out Lee Valley’s hardware and it is great stuff so I can see why you are pleased using them. The style of hardware I am searching for reaches back a little further in time than Lee Valley’s style. My research tells me that a great deal of the original campaign hardware was pretty heavy stuff with the corners and straps pushing a quarter inch in thickness. Also, handles were often solid, recessed and cast. Say “campaign furniture” and everyone thinks of the hinged style that Lee Valley sells but this style only became popular over the last 100 years or so. Many of the original examples didn’t use them. Thanks again for your kind suggestion. Peace.

    • robert says:


      You could fabricate your own straps and corners – cutting , filing, soldering and generally working with brass is easy and enjoyable.

      New handles can be custom cast – not cheap but they will be to your exact specifications and needs. Ask around, there are probably some older pattern makers in your area that would know how to do this and would have the contacts at foundrys to get the metal poured. You could even make the patterns.

      Locking mechanisms would be the sticking point. They could also be cast, but the tolerances are increasingly fine for the thing to work correctly. Not saying it can’t be done – could be a really cool project.

      • Robert, I have to tell you that I spent a whole lifetime one summer making the letters for the name of my boat, having them cast, dressing them and after chroming, mounting them. Casting is a seriously tough gig.

    • Dean says:

      William, take a look at Paxton Hardware. I’m sure their hardware is nowhere near a 1/4 inch thick, but looks pretty solid. You will need to enter “campaign” in the search box in the upper right and click “GO” to get their listing on this hardware. Paxton also sells the old fashioned locks as well. The second link is another supplier of campaign furniture hardware described as cast hardware (scroll down).



      • Dean, the Ansaldi & Sons link you gave was a big score for me. They have corner ornaments of solid cast brass, plus corner trim pieces of cast brass that I thought hadn’t been in production since the turn of the century – the last one, not this one. I couldn’t find a cast strap, though, so I guess I’ll end up going with Robert’s suggestion on those. They also seem to only carry the recessed hinged variety of pulls, but I sent them a photo of what I am looking for to see if they have something similar. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. You were a great help with this. Thank you.

  12. Steve Kirincich says:

    Thank God this campaign does not involve debates or did I just jink myself?

  13. John Callaway says:

    I have become very interested in this furniture since learning of it… the afternoon drive to charleston has happened twice now to go looking around… I seem to recall you mentioned you will be / might be doing a book on this stuff…. another book that will be a fixture in my collection.

  14. John Callaway says:

    also… do remember where that store was in Charleston from your Nov 25th post ? I have found tons of antique and furniture stores…. but not one focusing on this style specifically…

  15. John Callaway says:

    …. Think I found it… Antiques of The Indies , market Street.

    • lostartpress says:

      Yes. Antiques of the Indies. But it is now on South King Street with the other furniture stores. It’s a small town. Just walk down King Street. It’s on the west side of the street. There’s also a 20th century furniture store near there worth checking out. Lots of deco pieces.

      • John A. Callaway says:

        The last two trips over were for baby stuff …. So I mostly looked around from the car, and have scoured the net…. We also drove around the market street area after everything was closed and did some nose to window shopping… But I have been promised that the next visit will be during business hours and endless browsing will be permitted…..

  16. Matt says:

    Antiques of the indies is the exact place. They moved a couple months ago from around the corner. I read the original blog post by happenstance was in Charlston (from Seattle) working a week later. I stopped in and took loads of pictures. The shop owners was great about it. Campaign furniture make my heart happy and I can’t wait to see the results from Christopher!

  17. Scott S. says:

    Chris, is the mahogany old growth from the likes of Belize?

  18. Rob says:

    I am another curious to know the species and origin of mahogany being used by The Anarchist in this campaign.

    • lostartpress says:

      I’ll be using Swietenia macrophylla for most of these projects. I very rarely use exotics in my work, but mahogany was by far the wood of choice for campaign pieces. No, I can’t afford the river wood. Wish I could.

      • Andy z says:

        Is it plantation grown? The Fiji mahog is amazing stuff to work, soft no tear out, gets fuzzy with interlocking grain on the quartered, but simply a pleasure to work. It’s not hard like old growth either.

  19. Matt says:

    I am really excited about this build. I plan to make two campaign chests myself later this year. It will be excellent to be able to see how yours turn out.
    Happy snicking!

  20. Simon Clarke says:

    Interesting Site.
    If any of you guys fancy more ideas on great campaign furniture check out our site.
    We are always happy to share our knowledge and can give pointers towards finding good quality brass hardware.

  21. Dave says:

    How do you process that amount of lumber? I imagine this is not an all hand tool job, or is it? I have a medium sized pile of rough boards a reasonable set of hand tools, some to minimal experience and dreams of having the wood magically transformed into smooth boards along with thoughts of selling the pile on Craigslist going to the lumber store and getting some wood that is at the very least skip planned and just enough for my next project.

    Looking forward to seeing the progress.

    • lostartpress says:


      I purchase it surfaced from a supplier that has good machines, in this case Wall Lumber in North Carolina. Then I saw the pieces down to size and jointer-plane the surfaces that will receive joinery. Cut the joinery. Smooth plane the show surfaces. Assemble.

      When I need thinner pieces, such as the backs and drawer bottoms, it’s the fore plane for me.

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