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This elevated shot shows the top made up of a veneered panel of flatsawn oak captured in a frame of riftsawn oak. 


To start this project, I drew a full size template so I could get a final approval from the client regarding the curve of the legs. I used a flexible strip of wood and two wood clamps to lay out the curve. We actually did change the curve from this original drawing.

After final approval, I cut out one of the legs from the full size drawing with a band saw. You can see it on the bench above the form. This would become the template for making the bent lamination forms. Here I am shaping the first layer of MDF. I will rough cut each additional layer on the band saw, then glue and screw it to the first layer and then use a flush trim bit to match the form.

The forms are complete and holes were drilled for the heads of the Bessey Tradesman clamps to optimize the clamping locations. The form is four sheets of 3/4 MDF to give me a three inch thick form. The finished legs will be 2 1/2 inch thick. A layer of 1/8 inch thick cork is taped to the inside surface. I adjusted for this extra thickness when cutting out the forms.

The leg stock laminates were re-sawn from 3 inch wide riftsawn red oak. Each leg would need 26 laminates of 3/32 inch thick sheets. I set the re-saw at 1/8 and then sanded to 3/32 final. This comes to a hair less than the 2 1/2 inch needed but with 25 layers of glue I should come out a hair over and be able to sand back to my final 2 1/2 inch thickness.

Eight legs will require 208 pieces of laminate.

One of the two major construction hurdles of this piece is the fact that the legs will have a four-way taper, from 2 1/2" just under the leg beading to a 1 1/4" at the bottom. If the leg was laminated and bent, and then tapered afterwards, it would leave an undesirable appearance because the end grains of the outer laminates would be visible as the taper is cut into the inner layers of laminate.

The solution is to taper each piece of laminate from 3/32" down to 3/64". The taper won't start until it is down 7" from the top. In order to keep the drawer box square it can't taper until it is below where the carcass aprons meet the upper leg (or corner post).

I made a tapering sled for the drum sander out of two pieces of MDF. Glued a stop block on one end and then shimmed between the MDF 3/32" at the other end. Three passes through and I was done.

I used UniBond 800, a modified urea formaldehyde, 2-part resin glue. With 26 lams and this adhesive, I can expect zero springback. I had the stack set up in order and with a small roller and tray I went like the dickens, applying glue on both sides of the internal laminates.

You can see the taper in the stack.

The stack is in the form. Working from the inside out with the clamping pressure, I tightened everything up, making sure the form stayed flat to the bench and the stack didn't try to shift.

With all eight legs done, I used a belt sander to clean up the glue squeeze out and jointed one edge. I could just get it done on my 8" jointer. I ran them through the planer to get my finished 2 1/2" thickness.

I made a fixture for my sliding miter saw to trim the tops of each leg and have them all come out the same. To layout the half-laps, I made a box of particle board that equaled the dimension of the side aprons. This allowed me to clamp and hold the legs in the exact final position to mark and layout the half-lap location.

The second difficult part of this project was creating good fitting half-lap joints in stock that is not only curved, but tapered. I made 1/4" MDF templates and fitted each one to the leg. Attached with double stick tape, I routed out material with a hinge mortise bit first, then I cut progressively deeper with a series of pattern bits. The legs where turned over, re-clamped to the apron fixture, and the templates attached to the other side and cut in the same fashion. Obviously, I had to do this eight times, and these joints had me pretty nervous, but they all came out perfect.

One leg cut with the finished half-lap.

The half-lap dry fit.

The design called for vertical grain on the side panels. With no room for wood movement I veneered these panels and made loose mortise and tenons for their joinery. I cut all of the grooves and dadoes for the beading and tenons, mitered the bottoms of the veneered panels and glued up the end assemblies.

I laid out the front rail dovetails and chopped them out by hand.

Now, to cut the final tapering of the legs. I built another sled to hold the entire end assembly, raise the legs 5/8" for the first side cut, and ran it through the planer. It took about 7 or 8 passes.

After the side of all four end assemblies were done, I added a 5/8" shim to raise the legs and taper the fourth side of the legs. I sure am glad I have a 20" planer because this assembly is 16 1/2" wide. My Byrd Shelix head "shaved" these legs to a great finish and I had no chatter or tear out. Another 7 or 8 passes and the tapering was done.

I made 5/16" X 5/8" bead stock for the legs. I mitered and glued them in place prior to assembling the whole carcass.

I made adjustable solid oak runners for the drawers. Note the countersunk holes that I will use to secure the guides permanently after the adjustments are made and drawer slides correctly.


Here are the rough drawer boxes before the cockbeading is done. The solid oak fronts are grain matched to each other, the sides are selected white poplar, and the bottoms are 1/4 white birch. Note the half-blind dovetails are inlaid with Peruvian walnut as an additional accent.

The final dry fit with the patinized bronze rod installed between the legs. It is ready for glue up and finish.

This drawer detail shot shows the traditional application of the 1/4" cockbeading. The side and bottom beads are set in 1/4" by 3/8" rabbets. The corners are mitered for the finished look. The top application is where the "traditional" difference lies. To prevent the visible joint of the bead and drawer that would be created by using the same technique as the sides, the width of the top bead is made to cover the entire top of the drawer front, and the beading stock itself is then rabbeted 1/8" X 5/8" to mate with a "stepped" rabbet cut in the drawer top. The front bead ends were hand mitered to finish it off.

This end shot shows how the edges of the 26 sheets of oak practically disappear into the straight grain pattern of the riftsawn oak.

These night stands were finished to match the clients other bedroom furniture. I used a dark grain filler for color rather than texture, one coat of potassium dichromate, a mix of provincial oak and golden oak stains, and six coats of a wiping oil/varnish blend.


Chisel And Bit Custom Crafted Furniture

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