Friday, January 27, 2012

New Project: A Leggy Console Table

My newest commission is an entry console table that features swoopy, sculptured legs and two curvy drawers for small items like keys and such.

Complex legs like these start with a paper pattern printed full-scale from the computer model. The patterns are placed on the plywood template material such that the mating edges of the parts line up with the straight-and-square milled plywood edges.

Once they're rough milled on the bandsaw, they're smoothed and faired by hand with rasps and sandpaper.

The parts are then laid out on the rough lumber to take best advantage of grain.

Once they're rough milled, again on the bandsaw, the mating edges are trimmed straight using a straight-edge saw guide.

After the mating faces are established, dadoes are cut across them to form bridle joints.

The next step is to trim them to exactly match the templates using the router table. In a design like this, with highly curved parts that meet at variable angles its important to leave flat ears to act as clamping aids.

The next step is to mill and attach the contrasting feet. To create a pleasing look, its important to maintain a continuous grain flow from leg to foot. With legs that are square in cross-section, structural integrity can be maintained by creating the foot by just veneering the bottom of the leg. But with curved legs that are rounded in cross-section its much easier to simply attach a solid foot to the leg that can be shaped and smoothed with impunity. Because the joint between feet and legs in this situation is, by necessity, an end-grain to end-grain joint, it has very little structural integrity. Therefore I always support this type of joint with a mechanical fastener, aka, a screw. Once the pre-drilled foot is glued in place, a pilot hole is drilled into the leg and the screw inserted.

Once the foot is attached, the leg can be tapered and rounded. Because the tapered legs change in thickness along their length, the radius of the edges has to change, as well. To make this easier, I use several round-over router bits of increasing radius as I move up the leg. This makes creating a consistently changing edge profile a snap.

Here are the four back leg pieces dry fit together. You can see the floating bridle tenon that connects all four pieces, as well as the positions of the clamping ears at critical points.

Then its just a matter of gluing it all up.

After the back leg sub-assembly has dried, the clamping ears are removed and the final fairing completed.

Et voilá, the assembled base.

Stay tuned for more as the piece progresses.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

First its a seat, then its a bed

In this latest window seat commission, 5 of the 7 pieces that make up the project are pretty much what they appear to be, but two of them have a secret. Two of the three long seats actually fold out to become beds. They're made with the same basic structure as the other seat units, and look like all the others.

But, their face frames open out on telescoping arms made with two sets of drawer slides.

Then the double-thickness seat platform opens ....

.... to create a nearly full size (48") bed platform.

The cushions of the other, non-opening seats are sized to cover the extra width to form a complete mattress system.

The construction technique that makes these pieces possible is torsion box construction of the bed platform panels. Each panel consists of half inch thick plywood skins with a coated cardboard honeycomb core.

Each bed unit will also incorporate closed storage in one half of the under-structure. Stay tuned for more pictures as the project nears completion.