Posts Tagged ‘Furniture’

Exercising Your Joints

March 29th, 2013 by
4 Comments »

I got an email from a friend this morning asking me what I thought about Festool’s Domino joinery system. I told him I thought it was an incredibly ingenious solution for rapidly cutting mortises and that the machine itself is a marvelous (albeit expensive) tool. When I reread his email before sending my reply, it was interesting to find out that he wanted to buy the Domino specifically because he had to make a dozen or so mortise-and-tenon (M&T) joints for an upcoming project. I asked if he planned to do a lot more M&T work in the future and he said he suspected as much, but wasn’t sure.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by my friend’s readiness to buy such an expensive tool, possibly for a single use. After all, if you have a task to do on your computer, iPad, smartphone or other electronic time muncher, you simply buy the right software, application or peripheral device, right? I suppose it follows that when a modern woodworker needs to cut a particular joint, they buy the machine or device that’s designed specifically for that purpose.

But has modern woodworking really come to this? I remember when I was a teenager just getting interested in furniture making, I read a story about a church on an island in Lake Onega, Russia. It is said to have been built by an anonymous master craftsman using nothing but a simple axe. The story goes that after he finished building this amazing structure, he looked at his hand holding his axe and, unwilling to consider that this same axe might create such beauty elsewhere, flung the axe into the lake! Although the story is almost certainly apocryphal, I found its tale of doing great work with simple tools inspiring.

Making something with only the tools you have on hand is not only challenging, but it can help you to become a better woodworker. This certainly has been my experience. Way back before there were fancy mortising machines, we learned to chop decent mortises with a basic chisel and mallet. I remember drooling over the cool dovetail routing system that the Canadian company Leigh introduced some decades back. As a fledgling furniture maker, I was perpetually broke, so I had to cut all my dovetails by hand. It took a lot of practice, but let me create dovetails in sizes and proportions that fit the furniture I was building — not just the capabilities of the jig.

Speaking of which, lack of money and special tools also led me to design and build many of my own jigs and fixtures. For example, I had a commission to build a sleek mahogany frame for a daybed. I wanted the piece to feature box joints in all four corners. But since the members were way too long to cut on the table saw (using a dado blade), I created a router jig to guide all the joint cuts. The jig worked so well that I ended up using it on dozens of other projects, eventually making miles of tight-fitting joints before the jig wore out.

Such circumstances not only helped me develop better hand-eye coordination, but cultivated my concentration and patience as well. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have acquired the majority of my woodworking skills if I could have just gone out and bought a new tool or ready-made jig every time I needed it. And as an added bonus, you get a lot more physical exercise sawing, chiseling, drilling and planing your joinery into existence than you do simply pushing a router around. That’s a lot more important nowadays, as I’m not as skinny (or as poor) as I used to be!

Cherry End Table

June 4th, 2012 by
3 Comments »

It’s been a while since we’ve posted a reader project here on the blog but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some great submissions! This end table showcases shaping skills on the legs and top, along with a forward-thinking finishing choice.

I made this end table made from 4/4 plain cherry. I adapted the design from a wall table design. My wife “put in an order” for an end table with a European provincial look.

Top is made of 2 pieces of biscuited (#20 biscuits) cherry 13″ long x 15″wide. Top upper edges were routed with 1/4″ stem 1″ cove bit. Top overhands stretchers by 1″, overall height is 21″. Legs were sculpted using saber saw.

The was finished in Minwax cherry stain #235 and Minwax Wipe On Polyurethane. I chose poly since the top would be subjected to drink glasses. Final coat was sanded ever so lightly with 1200 just to remove any “fuzz..” So far so good!

- Stan Feinberg, Wantagh, NY

Do you have a project you’d like to share?  Click here to send it in!

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

cherry table

cherry table in use

cherry table underside

Designing a Multipurpose Shelf Unit

April 23rd, 2012 by
1 Comment »

Like the proverbial shoemaker’s children that are perpetually barefoot, my own home doesn’t have a whole lot of furniture that I built myself. I save most of my woodworking energy for building projects for the Woodworker’s Journal or when I do “pro bono work” for the Shakespearean theater company that my wife works for (the latter has consisted of mostly creating large, freestanding poster displays and a collection box).

But every once in a while, a project comes along that I have difficulty saying no to. In this case, I was recently contacted by a prominent local business owner who lives in a gorgeous house only a half a block from one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline that California has to offer. He asked me if I would consider building him a large L-shaped shelf unit that would wrap around a partially curved wall in his home office/man cave.

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Three-Wood Desk & Chair

March 28th, 2012 by
7 Comments »

This reader’s project skillfully combines three different species without sacrificing the pieces’ cohesive looks.

This is a desk and chair I recently made for my granddaughter that now has a place to do her homework. It’s made from leftover oak, maple, and walnut. The top is made from walnut plywood left from a dining table project and quarter-sawn oak edging remaining from a rocking chair project. The front chair legs are made from a piece of 100-year-old oak beam salvaged from a barn demolition. Does this make it a “green” project?

- Paul Douglass; Centennial CO

Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in.

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

desk and chair

Arts & Crafts End Tables

March 14th, 2012 by
3 Comments »

We may not have posted many reader projects lately, but that doesn’t mean you’ve stopped making them! Some nice stock selection for the tops and eye-catching drawer joinery help make these tables stand out in any setting.

Here are a few pictures of some arts and crafts inspired end tables I built. All mortise and tenon joinery, with a sand cast bronze drawer pull. The finish consists of General’s Mission Oak Gel Stain, topped with two coats of amber shellac and wax.

Steve Pedersen

Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in!

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

tables

table top

drawer face

Magic in a Can

March 13th, 2012 by
3 Comments »

paste waxWhat should I use on my wood furniture? It’s a question I frequently get just after someone hears an ad promoting some spray polish that “works like magic.” Here’s the sad truth: if it is ridiculously easy to use, it’s probably not what you expect. Life’s just like that.

The Treadmill

The problem with most spray furniture polishes is not that they are harmful to furniture finishes (they’re not), or that they don’t work (they do), but rather that they put you on a treadmill. No, not the kind your spouse has been trying to get you on since your weight began to inexplicably inch upward. The metaphorical kind.

Here’s how it works. Many furniture polishes add sheen or luster by coating the finish with an ultra-thin layer of some oily compound. It looks nice and shiny for a while, but the oily film soon attracts, and holds, airborne dust. Before long, it looks dusty again and cries out for more polish.

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Tile-Topped Coffee Table

January 31st, 2012 by
1 Comment »

This reader-submitted coffee table features hand-made joinery and a clever use of tile for the tabletop.

I wanted to share this project that I’m so proud of: a custom built coffee table with marble stone tiles on top.

To use stone tiles for the top of a table is a great way to give furniture a more luxurious feel without spending a lot of money. Me and my husband built this table from scratch without using any nails or screws, but instead doing a lot of chiseling and some gluing. We chose hemlock wood and stained it in red mahogany.

For the top, we used 12 x 12 inch white carrera marble tiles, which we put close together without any space savers; then we didn’t have to use grout and could create a more seamless surface.

Overall I love this technique and our coffee table is just gorgeous!

More info and pics available here:

http://christonium.com/HomeProject/building-wooden-coffee-table-with-marble-tiles

Thanks so much for your time!

Linn

Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in.

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

table 4

table 2

table 3

table 5

table 1

Airplane Bed

January 16th, 2012 by
14 Comments »

This reader’s project incorporates some clever “interactive” functionality and plenty of storage.

A family I work with has a son who is crazy about airplanes. The mother sent me a picture of an airplane bed, and I knew I could do better. Attached are the sketchup design, a few pictures of the work in progress and the finished bed with Paulito included. I was disappointed that they added the box springs, as I had designed it for a single bunk mattress only, but I was told when Paulito goes to bed, he feels he is really flying.

It is made from hard maple, padauk, and Peruvian walnut. There is a little maple plywood and veneer, but it is mostly solid lumber with no stain or paint. I made two propellers which are easily removed. One is maple and the other is padauk and walnut. The wings pull out and form a storyteller’s seat, and the propeller really turns. There is plenty of storage in the drawers on the base.

- Joe Byron

Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in!

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

Paulitos Bed - SketchUp

paulitos airplane bed frame

Airplane Bed complete

Airplane  Bed in place

Changing Table and Dresser – All in One!

November 9th, 2011 by
5 Comments »

While many projects can be somewhat timeless, furniture for babies & children may lose some of its usefulness after time. This reader found a great way to extend the functionality of his work.

I made this changing table for the baby of my brother-in-law and later I made the top that he could add on to modify to a dresser.

So the furniture has a second life, and maybe his daughter will change her baby on the same changing table.

Made of yellow birch.

- Denis Pinard; Sherbrooke, Quebec

Do you have a project you’d like to share?  Click here to send it in.

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

changing table

dresser

Down-Sized Arts & Crafts Blanket Chest

October 6th, 2011 by
1 Comment »

We received this photo from a reader after we ran a previous letter showing his work in our June 2011 issue, all of which are variations on the Arts & Crafts Blanket Chest featured in the April 2010 issue.

First, thanks for the credit and photos of the arts & crafts blanket chest that I built from the April 2010 issue of Woodworkers Journal. As I mentioned in my letter [which was run in the June 2011 issue], I was planning to make three more of the chests for my daughter and her two girls, theirs to be used as a ‘hope chest’. I finished the three down-sized chests yesterday, trying to make them to scale of the original version, and finished them out with the asphalt stain treatment and then waxing with tudor brown Briwax.

The chests are 18″ X 18″ X 30 1/2″ for the chest, with the tops being 32″ X 20″. As I counted, there are approximately 90 individual parts, not counting the boards individually for the tops or the bottoms or the splines, with 28 mortises and tenons. Quite an undertaking, but I am pleased with the results. Each time I assembled one of the chests I learned something that made the next one easier to assemble. Having purchased the lumber through my son-in-law in Mississippi I got better quality lumber at a better price. Each chest cost about $200.00, including hardware and finishes.

- Dewey Lackey; Brentwood, TN

Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in.

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

blanket chest