Award Winners

Best Handwork - for reproduction of a John Goddard Tea Table - 2015 Northern Woods Show

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Best Handwork - for reproduction of a French Open Arm Chair - 2012 Northern Woods Show

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Best Carving - for reproduction of the Gratz Family Highboy - 2011 Northern Woods Show

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Best Traditional Design - for repoduction of Waln-Ryerss QA side chair - 2008 Northern Woods Show.

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Best Handwork - for reproduction of the Gardiner Greene serpentine Bombé chest of drawers - 2007 Northern Woods Show

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Tony Kubalak

I have been building high style period furniture since 1999. I specialize in building accurate museum quality reproductions of antique originals. My favorite pieces are from the Philadelphia Queen Anne and Chippendale styles. These are characterized by bold, elaborate carvings and classic 18th century lines. I am more intrigued by pieces with elegant and detailed carvings than I am by their unembellished counterparts or pieces with less refined ornamentation. To my eye it is the carvings that set apart the masterpiece designs from the commonplace. I also have an interest in a few Newport pieces, most notably the blockfront furniture.

I became interested in period furniture about twenty years ago when I first saw pictures of some Newport shells. This initial interest led to discovering other 18th century motifs, cabriole legs, ball and claw feet and foliage carving for example. My interest quickly evolved from admiring the shapes to wanting to know how to form, carve and build them. I spent the next fifteen years trying to learn, with mixed success, from books, tapes and an occasional class. Although I developed solid woodworking skills in hand cut dovetail and mortise and tenon joints, as well as an occasional cabriole leg, I still was not able to attempt the pieces in which I was really interested. In fact I became resigned to never learning the specific skills necessary to build 18th century furniture. I became content with building pieces with a hint of 18th century design but without any ornamentation. This all changed in 1999, when I started to study with Gene Landon at the Olde Mill Cabinet Shoppe. With Gene's guidance and knowledge I have learned how to build the most elaborate and complex pieces in existence. My carving skills have improved to the point that I now look for the most challenging projects to add to my collection.

My interest in period furniture has evolved from admiring the ornamental motifs to being committed to building authentic, faithful and accurate reproductions of the finest antiques. Thus a piece begins with doing research. This will include studying the original if at all possible, taking accurate measurements, including tracings of key and unique elements, and lots of photos. To maintain authenticity my pieces are built using the same joinery methods that were used on the originals. This means that all structural joints are either mortise and tenon or dovetail.   Moreover, I do most of the work by hand using traditional tools. In my view this is the best and most efficient way to generate the shapes and character of the originals. For example a machine made ball and claw foot is an awful approximation of an 18th century one, whereas a well executed hand made one has all of the boldness, charm and detail of the original. In addition the foliage carvings that are ubiquitous on 18th century furniture cannot even be approximated by any machine. Yet another step towards historic accuracy is my use of thick solid stock when appropriate and single piece boards wherever possible. Most of the fine old pieces used single board construction and solid stock for legs. Thus a piece would not look right if laminated wood were used. The final steps in producing an authentic reproduction involve the finishing process and the use of appropriate hardware including historically accurate nails. The finish is hand applied and care is taken to make it look aged. The ultimate goal is to build a reproduction that has the look and feel of a 250 year old antique.

I have entered my work in the  Northern Woods Woodworking Show for several years. Northern Woods is an annual show put on by the Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, of which I am a member. I have won awards the past five years, including Best Handwork, Best Carving and Best Traditional Design.   Furthermore, for the past five years I have been selected for the "Directory of Traditional American Crafts®" by Early American Life Magazine. My goal as a period furniture maker is to continually increase my skill level and build as many great pieces as I can.

Recent Highlights


My Second Book Is Now Available!

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Get My First Book Here.

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Selected for Directory of Traditional American Crafts 2005 - 2013 ® by Early American Life magazine.

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Authored "Carving a Philadelphia Flame Finial" in 2008 edition of the SAPFM Journal