Monday, September 28, 2009

Cherry Sofa Table

Well anyone who has been following my blog (including me, that's likely a whole 1 person) has seen that I had previously posted a screen capture of a walnut sofa table. For some reason, that version of the table just wasn't doing it for me. I had cross-grain issues, build issues, etc. I just plain couldn't get inspired by it. Then one day, while at work, I catch out of the corner of my eye one of the many furniture pictures I have for inspiration scrolling by on my screen saver. I don't even remember downloading, or having ever seen that photo before, but I fell in love with it immediately. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with the model in the image.

The table is made of solid american black cherry with the only exception being the the bird's eye maple drawer fronts. It is essentially all frame and panel construction and is comprised of about 110 individual parts with over 50 mortise and tenon joints. From a design point of view, I think one of the reasons I didn't like the old model was that I tried to include too many strong visual elements. Too much exposed joinery etc. One this table there are only three featured design elements: the first is the contrasting wood drawer fronts. the second is the through dovetails on the drawers and the third more subtle is just the cherry wood grain. If I had to categorize this piece in a certain style I guess it would have to be shaker with some craftsman influence.

In the original photo of the piece, there was also a Harvey Ellis style craftsman inlay in each of the two doors. Though I'm keen on learning how to create these inlays, I think it would be too much for this piece. I'd much rather incorporate the contrasting wood tones.

To date I've purchased about 50 bd ft of cherry and have milled the parts for the two side frames and I've just started laying out the joinery in the legs. Stay tuned for some photos of the work in progress.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Craftsman Curtain Rods

My very talented wife has taken up sewing and I have to say that she has a real knack for it. She's in the process of making these curtains for our living room windows and I couldn't resist taking a picture to post. She still has a couple of things to complete such as trimming the thread ends and making the tie backs but I think they look pretty awesome. This blog however, is not about sewing, it's about woodworking. So not to be outdone, I decided to make the curtain rods for the windows and of course turned to the interwebs for inspiration. We did a search for craftsman style curtain rods and we found something very similar to what's show here.

I started by making the rod out of some scrap red oak I had. The only embellishment is that I cut small "pyramid" shapes at the ends of the rod. For the supports I found a 1" thick red oak board ans sketched the design right on it. I bored the mortises for the rod out with a forstner bit and cleaned out the hole with a mortising chisel and file. I then inlaid the walnut accent squares and then rounded over all the exposed edges with a coarse file and sandpaper. once this was done I turned my attention to how I was going to hang the thing. Now being a structural engineer you'd think that I'd had this figured out before I got to this point. But, I'm purposely trying not to over-engineer things and let the design come first. What I decided to do was take a trip to the hardware store for ideas. I found some small steel plates with "keyholes" in them that I could recess into the back of the supports using a router. I finished everything with a coat of Varathane mission oak stain topcoated with shellac. It turned out to be a fun little project that I was able to complete in a weekend for under $10. God I love woodworking!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sofa Table Design 2

So I've done some more work on my sofa table design and I'm feeling alot better about the whole thing since I've added some personal touches. As you can see in the photo, I've incorporated breadboard ends and a crest rail on the top, added wedged through tenons on the side stretchers and changed the door joinery from a through mortise and tenon to pinned miters.

For some reason that big top just didn't feel right without a crest rail on it and after a few different designs I settled on the one in the picture with a very low profile that enhances the horizontality of the piece. I'm considering putting a series of square holes in similar to those I incorporated into the crest rail on my nightstands (previous blog post) I'll put some more thought into that but I'm scared to overdo it with the craftsman details. The breadboard ends I added to help keep the top flat, because I really like the look of them and frankly because I've always wanted to try and build them.

I extended the tenons on the side stretchers and turned them into wedged through tenons. I still plan on using ebony wedges (If I can find some) The tenons are 1/2" thick and I may still play with their proportions to get the top and bottom of the top tenon to line up with the depth of the drawer.

The pinned mitres on the doors I saw in Fine Woodworking issue #200 in an article by Russell Jensen. This is a traditional japanese joinery technique called "kane tsugi" that I find very beautiful. I'm pretty pumped to try and make this joint.

Of course, I had to pass all of the design ideas by my better half to see if she'd veto any of these decisions. She was a bit unsure about the pinned mitres because she felt that it was a bit too much but after a few seconds changed her mind. phheuw! What are your thoughts on them. Below is a picture of the piece with the regular through mortise and tenon joints on the doors for comparison.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sofa Table Project

Here's the sketchup model for my next project. It's a sofa table for my living room. I took inspiration from a picture I found online and scaled. I've been busily modelling the inside of the case to try and eliminate any cross grain joinery in solid wood. At this point it's my intent to make this out of walnut for a primary wood and white birch as a secondary wood. There are a couple of black accent strips which at this point are intended to be ebony but due to cost may well end up being ebonized walnut. Once I have the inside of the carcase and back figured out I intend to make a few modifications just to dress it up and make it my own. A few craftsman details such as through tenons, set back drawers etc come to mind, but I don't want to overdo it. if anyone has any suggestions I'd gladly entertain them.

Blog revival

Here are a couple of photos of projects I've completed.