Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ship Shape Transformation

Greetings again, everyone. In the shop right now is an interesting commission that's somewhat different form my usual work. In this project, rather than designing new pieces, I've been asked to transform a pair of adjustable-height tables from weird to sleek and stylish. The nice part about these tables is that they have an internal hydraulic piston that adjusts their height from coffee table to dining table - a nifty feature in a boat salon where space is at a premium. The not-so-nice part about them is that they are made of an odd combination of thick slabs of clear acrylic and black-painted bamboo canes.

My job is to turn them into something stylish and compatible with the rest of the boat's interior. To do this I'll strip off all the bamboo, and then re-skin the uprights and fabricate new bases and tops using Afrormosia veneer to match the rest of the interior. Afrormosia is sometimes referred to as African Teak, and is the primary species used throughout the vessel. Here's the rendering of what we're shooting for.

The first step was to disassemble the tables and strip off all that bamboo from the base tubes. They were then sanded and clad with a skin of thin MDF as a smooth substrate, and finally veneered.

The new tops and bases consist of two layers of marine plywood that are veneered top and bottom with Afrormosia using a vacuum bag. Once the tops were made, the next step was to mill and assemble the compass roses. Made from wenge, the rose parts were cut using a simple jig on the bandsaw that allowed milling of identical multiples. The parts were then glued together as a single piece and inlaid into the tops.

To inlay the roses, the outline was traced onto the top and a recess was cut, first with a router, and then refined with chisels. 

Once the recess was prepared, the rose was glued in just proud of the surrounding field.

Each rose was then levelled using a rounter on a carriage similar to those used to flatten large slabs. The flat bottomed router bit was adjusted to trim flush with the surface of the top.

After levelling, some ebony stringing was added to enhance the design, and then the whole thing was sanded flat.

Next up will be to add solid wenge edging to the tops and bases. Stay tuned.....