BY

JOHN A. FRY

CUSTOM CRAFTED FURNITURE

 

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The shop sawn zebrawood veneers are framed in a sapelli border and separated by a box of finely grained Macassar ebony.

 

I started by laying out a “half template” and then creating the full size pattern for the curved torsion box construction. I will make three “ribs” for each curved box.

 

Each torsion box gets a solid bolting plate in the center zone, so the three main structural elements can be screwed and bolted together. Then cross member dividers were glued in between the ribs all the way down to the ends.

 

All the zebrawood veneers were shop sawn at 1/16” thick, from the same straight grained, 8/4 by 10” wide, plank of wood.


The bookmatched veneers were trimmed, jointed, and edge glued together. First the layers of bending ply were laminated on the torsion boxes with the vacuum press, then the veneers were pressed on last.

 

I flushed trimmed the edges of the veneers and ply using a router. I installed a long rectangular base plate to help steady the router and keep it flat on the concave side.
 

 

I trimmed most of the over-hang on the ends with a low angle block plane, and then using 3” strips of my drum sander rolls clamped to the bench, I sanded the ends flat and flush by sliding the assembly back and forth.
 

 

My next step was to make a prototype divider box out of MDF. This fit was going to take some special effort to get curves and bevels to match up perfectly. Once fit, the prototype would serve as a template for making the actual ebony veneered, four panel box.

 

I had a beautiful piece of very tight grained and consistently dark Macassar ebony in stock. It is so dark, it almost looks like Gaboon. I re-sawed it for the box and some maple to line the inside. The box was grooved to hold a ½“ Baltic birch ply for screwing and bolting the assembly together.

The box is dry fit together to check the miters, splines, and grooves. Then using the MDF prototype, I drew out the curves and cut the bevels.
 

 

Oversized end caps were cut, drilled, screwed and glued to the bottoms of the ends.
 

 

After they dried, the contours were hand sculpted to follow the curves of the veneered surfaces on both the top and bottom faces. The screw holes were plugged with sapelli.
 

 

The solid sapelli side frames were glued up from several pieces of wood by staggering the blocks over a full sized drawing in order to save wood going around the curve.

 

One at a time, I glued the oversized frame pieces on to the sides of the arches. These would have to be trimmed with a flush trim router bit and a lot of climb cutting to avoid the potential tear-out from the grain changes in the sawn curved edges.
 

 

The first complete dry fit. I needed to mark out the location of the holes in the glass and drill the pilot holes for the 5/16” threaded inserts.

 

 

The box still needed final fitting by hand. Here it is already fitted and screwed to the under side of the upper curve, and I’m final shaping the fit to mate with the bottom curve.

Once the fit was perfect, I drilled four ½” holes through the skin of the bottom arch, and I ran four ¼” by 7” lag bolts up from the underside and through the bolting blocks in each member of the assembly. I used clamping cauls to keep the two arches co-planer while I drilled and bolted. The ½” holes were plugged with sapelli.

 

 

I used 5/16” flange bolts to make the hold downs for the top. I used a circle cutter to cut two 3-1/2” circles of Macassar ebony at 1/4” thick. I used a forstner bit to cut the recess in the top of the circle so the flange bolt’s head would sit flush, and then I veneered a 1/16” piece of the ebony veneer on top of that.

After it was sanded out, you can’t even see the seam.

 

The Chisel and Bit medallion is inlaid on the underside.

 

This low angle shot shows a little different perspective.
 

 

A close-up of the Macassar ebony hold down knob.

 

This close-up really shows the perfect fit of the curves and beveled edges of the box, and the beautiful grain in the Macassar ebony.

 

 

 

Chisel And Bit Custom Crafted Furniture

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