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And now for something completely different

I have been out of the workshop for about 8 weeks. The entertainment centre had been put on hold. The intervening weeks created some distance from the original design (which featured coopered doors), and to be frank, I had lost interest in the design. The project goes on, nevertheless, and what will take its place will be two Military/Campaign Chests (to be used side-by-side). Work has already begun on these. More at another time.

Still, there was something about the coopered doors I had built that begged for further development. Something contemporary, a little wild …

I did a little research on curved ends and found a few examples. One in particular that I liked was a sideboard by David Marks

What I had was two of these …

They were too short (at about 500mm/19 ¾”) to become sideboard legs, but I could imagine them as legs for an end table.

So .. after a bit of hammering and sawing, I ended with two of these …

There were a number of interesting challenges along the way, and I will take some time to illustrate these for you.

Rounding the inside camber of a coopered shell

The coopered doors were smoothed on the outside while the inside was left segmented. Now that the panels were to be turned inside-out, I needed to fare the curves and smooth them. I quickly discovered that this was not an easy task.

I tried a number of methods …

First there was scraping. Well, I made some fancy shavings, but it was really slow going. This Karri is Hard wood!

Next I attempted to use a large Round (or is it a Hollow?) plane. This was better than the scraper, but left channels without faring the shape, per se.

In desperation I tried 80 grit sandpaper – this proved to be tediously slow and dusty.

What I needed was a small, curved scrub plane. Aaahhh … just the thing, the Veritas modeller’s (Squirrel Tail Palm) plane!

Here it is working diagonally across the grain …

Don’t the shavings remind you of miniature scrub plane chips?

Now the scraper came out to smooth off the surface.

Shaping the sides

I decided to taper the sides rather than leave them square as this made them appear taller and, hopefully, would provide a little elegance.

There was no turning back after sawing off the sides. Here I am planing to the lines (work holding was another interesting adventure) …

A LN edge plane ensured the sides were square ..

Morticing the legs

The panels are ½” thick, and would be inserted into a ½” mortice than ran the length of the leg. I must say that I drew the line here at chiselling these out, and instead used a powered router to complete the task in a few minutes.

A little tip for squaring up the rounded ends of a routered mortice ..

First step is to knife the line where the mortice will end. Then place a mortice chisel in this line, and finally give the chisel a good wack to remove the waste.

Shaping the legs and the panel

Build a template out of thin ply or MDF. Here is a crude but effective method for marking a curve.

Below is the template and one marked out leg.

Testing the shape …

Another power tool! Removing the waste before …

working with spokeshaves. Here is a LN Boggs and a HNT Gordon. The Boggs’ cutting angle (40 degrees) is too low for the Karri and was only usable on 1 of the 4 legs. The HNT Gordon (with a 60 degree cutting angle) proved more successful.

The other modification was to the lower end of the panel. This was cambered slightly to accentuate the curves. Marking out …

Fitting the upper frame

So much work had gone into shaping and grooving the upper and lower frames (when the panel was being used as a door). I decided that the upper frames could be re-used, partly to add a finish and partly to support the table top. Fitting these frames was something I had not attempted before.

Firstly, as you can see, the frames are too long …

Secondly, the ends are not square to the legs.

I recalled a tip from Roy Underhill (The Woodwright) – butt the two pieces together and saw between them …

Magic! The gap looks good, and the fitting is perfect (with just a few scratches from the saw to clean up).

Now the other side was more complicated. Not only are the angles a poor fit, but the frame needs to be shortened .. and exactly so.

Logic said to take the angle off the leg with a sliding bevel. How much to cut off was easily determined. And then the mark was continued around the top by scribing off the leg.

Again, this worked out ...

So .. gluing it together, and the first coat of oil …

More in a while ..

Regards from Perth


January 2011