Monday, November 18, 2013

An old friend

I have owned this slab of walnut for eight years. It stands at 4/4 x 20" x 8' and at the end of last summer I bit the bullet, cut the board into three lengths for a sideboard, and shipped it West.

There is enough lumber in the slab for a top, a door panel, and three drawer fronts. The rest of the sideboard will be white oak, my favorite wood to pair with walnut. Their colors merge over time. 

This is the closest rendering I have of the final design. The only difference will a slight overhang and a small crown molding between the top and the case.

After making a pact with a woodworking friend that we would build no more gifts, favors or barter items until we had each built something for private use that we were truly proud of, flattening began.

I always begin by flattening the convex side. The board rocks less.

After getting one side flat, I flipped the board and marked the thickness gage to the thinnest corner of the board.

At this point I noticed I still had a quarter inch of material along the one edge.  This would be enough to leave a spill guard on the back edge. A router would be out of the question on such an uneven surface, so I used my 1/2" hollow plane, and the groove was done in a minute.

The remaining stock was quickly removed and work began to establish the bowed curve on the front.

I won't have time to touch it for three weeks, but the next step will be joinery and assembly of the base with drawer and door dividers. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Going heavy

So this project began with a large slab of granite my friend, Mike, salvaged from a tear down. The granite already had a mildly elliptical shape, so it seemed natural to reflect these curves in the base. 

 The redwood fence posts we salvaged for the base were a dream to work with. Very dry and very straight grained. A little trick I learned on this project: if you score your layout lines very deep ...
 The tenons will split along the score lines. 

I obviously didn't try to split the long faces of the tenon, but splitting worked out great on the short face.
After soaping (timber-frame trick) and dry assembling the base, I cut the curve with a backsaw, large chisel and drawknife. I missed my bandsaw that day.
I opted for straight cuts on the rails. The slight radius in the original design just didn't seem worth the effort, and I stand behind that decision. 

 Things moved forward pretty rapidly from there. The end assemblies were draw bored and pegged with white oak and the long aprons were attached via threaded rod. One note on draw boring: make your pins twice as long as they need to be. A long, gradual taper makes the assembly so much smoother. No broken pins, no splitting.
Once the base was carried over to Mike's it only took the 4 of us to place the granite on top.