Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Swoopy Sideboard

My latest commission is a sideboard with plenty of curve appeal. Meant to be a display piece for my clients' stem and serving ware, it features curved and tapered legs, as well a curved door rails. It will have inlay accents along the top and sides of the case, as well as a glass top.

Originally imagined in mahogany, my client fell in love with a sample of figured bubinga I had from a past commission. And to our great fortune, the supplier I had used for the first piece, Global Wood Source in San Jose, had a few more large boards of similar material. It is premium material (at a premium price), and should look great when finished. The two boards are just barely enough to make all the necessary parts, so I'll have to be extra careful, as there's no backup material!

While waiting for the maple interior panel glue-ups to cure, the first order of business was to make the legs. The curved design we're using is based on true radii of 63.25", so the shaping template could be made with a router and trammel to get "perfect" curves. First the center points of the arcs were laid out using trammel points.

By swinging arcs from each end of the final arc, the exact center was found. Then a router on a shop-made trammel arm could be swung to produce each arc.

Which left a great template with very little hand fairing necessary.

Next the pattern was transferred to each leg blank and the shape was rough cut on the band saw. Each blank was then trimmed to final shape on the router table using a flush-trim bit with both top and bottom bearings. This allowed for the blank and template to be flipped so that the direction of cut was always "downhill" to the grain, to avoid tear-out.

Next, each leg was tapered using a sled that raised the foot and held the leg in place as it traveled through the planer.

The last steps were to first round over all edges, then shape the upper portion of the leg to a more pleasing elliptical cross-section.

Then final hand fairing with planes and scrapers, and lots of sanding.

Next up, the case carcass. Stay tuned...