Making the Declaration Desk with Ed Zappan October 24-28, 2022
Writing boxes were common artifacts in the 18th century. They were carried around for correspondence and business during travels. In this class students will have the opportunity to recreate the most famous writing box from that period, the Declaration Desk. Many believe it was this desk upon which Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in the second floor of the Graff House on 7th and Market in old Philadelphia in 1776. Although Ed will demonstrate some of the techniques he uses when making his reproductions, this will not be a technique class. It is part project and part history. Students will make the desk the way the old guys did in the 18th century, entirely with hand tools. No machines allowed. The wood will be precut to finished size by MASW staff so joinery will begin at the start of class. Joinery will include eight rabbets, four hinge mortises, installing a half mortise in a drawer front, dovetails, inlays and some dados. These will be fairly small joints as the desk in only about 14” x 9” and 3 ½” high. Imagine a drawer with five pins and four tails half-blind in a 1 ¾” high drawer front. “Sounds like fun to me!”
This very unique experience will be garnished with short talks about the desk, its’ place in history, and some interesting facts about the Declaration of Independence, its creation and meaning. Students should be able to finish the desk in the week, but if not, they will have all of the information and materials necessary.to complete the desk at leisure in their own shop.