Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sledding Through the Curves

How do you make a perfectly fair curved surface out of solid wood that's 20" wide , 28" long, and almost 3" thick? That was the challenge of the latest project in the shop. The project is a pair of nightstands made of solid mahogany, and based on a Klismos-inspired stool I made last year. 

I know what you're saying .... go find a 20" capacity bandsaw and just cut the curves. Easier said than done, and then there would still be the challenge of building a jig to keep the slender blank perfectly perpendicular to the saw table - no easy feat. Ultimately, I decided to stick with the equipment I had, for convenience. Since I only have a 12" capacity bandsaw, and the premium pattern-grade Sapele I was using was only about 6-8" wide, the sides would have to be glued up in three pieces.

To strengthen the joints, I added dowels, which were positioned properly in the blank using a shop made drilling jig.

After the dowel holes were drilled, the outline of the side was cut using the bandsaw. The blanks were then glued up and set into a fairing jig. 

The fairing jig works with like the setup often used to flatten large slabs with a router. The sides of the lower part of the jig are the exact fair arc that describes the curve of the nightstand side. Riding across these is a sled, along which a trim router rides. As the sled moves along the curved rails a series of narrow flats is created.

The faired surface can then be sanded smooth, resulting in a fair curved nightstand side. 

Bandsawn blank (L), rough faired blank (R), and sanded fair side (bottom).

The faired sides can then get their joinery cut and the nightstands take shape - stay tuned....

Transformation Complete

Well, its been a while since the last post about the boat salon tables, but they are finally finished, and look great. After wenge edging was applied to the tops and bases, they went to the finisher and got a high gloss boat-worthy finish. 

The afromosia is a great match for the rest of the interior, and they now look like they belong. A special thanks to John Gilham finishing for doing a great job with the finish.