BY

JOHN A. FRY

CUSTOM CRAFTED FURNITURE

 

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A second table of Asian ebony and wenge was made at the same time.

 

They have a 21” diameter at the top, and stand 23” tall. The main cylinder has an 18” outside diameter. The curved side panels are all bent laminations, and veneered with the final wood choice.

The curved door is mounted with three barrel hinges and the drawer is “piston fit” into the upper carcass compartment.

 

The tops are a veneered, sixteen segment starburst pattern with a solid wood wenge border and profile.

 

All the veneers for these tables are shop sawn at 3/32” thick and drum sanded to 1/16” inch final thickness.


The veneers where laid out for the most attractive “slip” match appearance and then were edge jointed and glued into panels. There are five panels, three for the outsides of the three permanent side panels, and one for the door and drawer front, and one smaller one for the inside of the door.

 

The structural design is plywood disks that are trimmed in either solid wenge, or in the case of the base, veneered wenge. The main lower carcass is made up of a round torsion box, that is wrapped with bending ply and then veneered with wenge.

 

This is the bottom the carcass. I formed a recessed base that is veneered with wenge and cut the inlay hole for my signature medallion. These clamps are holding the edge trim wenge, the outer bending ply was laminated using three band clamps.
 

 

Four layers of wenge are veneered over the bending ply to create the base. I went this thick because the top of this wenge will be routed into part of the base’s profile.

 

Next, it was time to start making the disks that complete the complicated curved profiles. Each disk will have eight solid wenge edge segments. The inner radius MUST be absolutely perfect to match the outer curve of the disks. I used a router trammel to make the cut.
 

 

There are five disks in each table, counting the top, and they are of three different thicknesses.
 

 

Once again the router trammel is my friend when trimming the outer diameter.
 

 

A cove bit and the trammel created this profile which becomes a part of the overall profile on the base.

 

Two different profile disks are vacuum pressed onto the base carcass to ensure a flat and good glue up. The secret to keeping everything aligned is the center holes in each component.
 

 

It’s time to move on to the curved panels. I built a form with a radius that will result in the outside dimension of the panels equaling an 18” diameter. This form will be covered with bending ply to provide a good solid surface for the panels.


 

 

Using four layers of 1/8” bending ply and one layer of 1/16” veneer, my panels will be 9/16” thick. I cut the plywood sheets to be 2” oversized, and trimmed the veneer panels to match. This allowed me to use centerlines and screws to hold the stack to the form with no shifting.
 

 

Here you see one of the Asian ebony panels sucked down to the form. The short pieces of blue tape are to protect the bag from the round head screws, and the long piece you see crossing the lay-up, is the line where the panel will be cut to separate the upper and lower panels and yet maintain grain continuity.

 

While the eight curved panels for the two tables were being pressed, I moved on to the veneered starburst table tops. I have a sled that is adjustable to tweak perfect 12 or 16 segment pie shapes. After carefully selecting the book-matched pairs, I started cutting the wedges for both table tops.

 

The matched wedges are taped on the back and edge glued together. Clamping pressure is attained by forcing them in between the edges of this simple fixture. And then weight is applied from the top to insure flatness.
 

 

The eighths are then carefully fitted and glued into quarters, and then into halves, and then into one complete top.

 

The top is veneered and trimmed to the round substrate. I used a maple backer veneer.

 

 

Just like the thinner disks, the 1” thick top is surrounded by an eight segment frame. Each piece is carefully and individually mitered to match the starburst seams in the top’s veneer. In my opinion, anything less than perfection here looks terrible!

I made a beveling sled to trim the edges of the curved panels.

The tops and bottoms were trimmed square on my table saw sled. The blue tape still marks the upper cut line to separate the upper and lower panels. I had to trim to “perfectly square” before cutting the panel in two. This was all a bit nerve wracking. One mistake and it would be very difficult to go back.

This is a jig to cut the mortises for the stiles in the base, top and center disk. I actually made a jig to make this jig. Once again, everything is “registered” through the center of each component.

This is the dry fit of all the mortises and tenons. You can see the second table carcass on the bench in the background.

All of the vertical members, needed to be gently rounded on the outer face to match the molded curves of their mating surfaces. I did this on the bench with a rasp and a card scraper. I left everything a little proud to be able to do a final, after glue, sculpting.

I needed to cut curved rabbets on each face of the tops and bottoms of each panel to create a ¼” curved stub tenon. I used this set up with just the round guide to cut the inside rabbet, and then added the opposite form (as shown) to cut the outside.

Once again, the router trammel was used to cut the curved groove in between the mortises on all the plates that the stiles and panels would be joined to.

The top’s profile was cut with a roundover bit in the router, but there was no way to cut the fragile ¼” wide bullnose profile on the top’s bead without poking a hole in the center of my veneered top. I used a Lie-Nielson No.66 Beading tool to form the bead.

This is the final dry fit of both the tables. After cutting 1/8” grooves in all the verticals, I used 1/8” splines to align the stiles and panels.

Once everything was fit, I sanded everything to 180 grit, stained all the inside surfaces dark, and began the glue up from the bottom up. I used West Systems Epoxy for this project. In this picture all the panel’s sides, splines, edges, and all the bottom mortises and tenons are glued. The center horizontal divider on the top, is not yet glued, but used as a register to be sure everything is in line, and as a clamping block.

The drawer box side walls were cut and fitted and the top carcass was glued up next. To insure the drawer box was true and square, this was actually done in three stages.

The door was carefully fit and installed. The curved drawer front would not fit in my Leigh D4 jig, so I hand cut the dovetails. The drawer bottom and sides are solid white soft maple, and the box was planed and sanded to a perfect fit.

Here are a few final detail shots. This shows the hand cut, halfblind, dovetails.

The molding profile and the fit of the stiles.

And, of course, the Chisel And Bit medallion inlaid in the inside drawer side.

 

Chisel And Bit Custom Crafted Furniture

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