Saturday, September 3, 2016

Mr. Phelps' Workbench

After so many years of doing this, I've seen so much furniture- cupboards and cabinets and hutches and sideboards and dressers and highboys, lowboys, dressing tables, vanities, tables, chairs etc etc etc. And it's not that I ever really get bored with all the furniture, but sometimes it can get just a little repetitive. I've seen so so many 1970s solid pine Colonial Revival hutches for example. But every now and then a piece comes into my clutches that is so magnificently fine and amazingly special, that it makes me giddy. This work bench, this work bench is very special.
         My client found this piece up in Maine, bought it and brought it to me to refinish. Even rough and in that old black paint it was already insanely charming. We decided to honor the history of the piece and keep it black, as it originally was, but with a new fresh distressed and waxed coat. I sanded, stained, and sealed the top, which is a single pine board, and we added pretty support brackets to the original backsplash. That backsplash is especially enchanting,  beautifully constructed with molded edges and the inset panel chamfered on the reverse. Someone took great care in making this piece, for it is indeed handmade, a testament to a craftsman's skill. A workbench need never have been this handsome, but clearly this gentleman took pride in his work, and I enjoyed updating it for a new generation to love.

          And then today, just as I was finished and re-applying the original cup brass pulls I realized that one of the drawers has a nice pencil inscription on the underside. It reads-
"J. A. Phelps 
31 Ledgelawn Ave Bar Harbor Maine. 
Ledgelawn Ave
April 5-1948."

I haven't been able to find any record of Mr. Phelps yet, but I intend to continue looking. I have included a picture below of 31 Ledgelawn Ave, where this superb workbench was built. I think it would look absolutely splendid in a farmhouse kitchen.


  1. Yup, you are right--it is an amazing piece! And what you did to bring it back to life is amazing!

  2. For sale? Perfect Gifford studio.