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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:26 am 
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I had to name this piece before I submitted it to our annual art contest. Heck, I had to name it before it was even done. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would have named it The Cat, because it has used up about seven of its nine lives.

Image

Let me explain. This whole thing started when I found a very wide slab of sapele at my local hardwood supplier’s place a few years ago. I thought, “Gosh, this would make a nice table top one day.” That board sat in my shop for a long time before I had an idea.

That idea was angled tennons. I should have guessed this was a bad idea from the beginning because online searches brought back few results. But, who am I to let a few details get in the way? After all, it was cheap wood!

Image

Back in September, I finally got around to sketching something out. Cutting angled tennons was going to be the easy part, but, how on Earth was I going to make the angled mortises? Drill them? Hand chisel? Phased plasma rifle?

Before I went too sci-fi, I remembered the article I had written about mortising magic. Now, if it worked for mortises perpendicular to the board’s surface, why not at an angle? So, I marked where I wanted the outside of the mortises to land, set the table saw and ripped the sides. Then I measured the width of the mortises I planned to cut, set the rip fence and ripped the ‘fillers’. Once these narrow pieces were cut, I cut sections out of them at 20 degrees, and then carefully glued the entire top slab back together to restore the wood’s grain pattern. BINGO, baby!

I let the top sit for a few weeks, waiting for more inspiration to hit. How to dress up this big top? How about some breadboard edges? Never cut any in my life, but it’s a good time to learn. I cut two sections of Sapele and grooved them to work as ends. How about the main table top? I tried first to hand-cut the tennons that would fit into the edges, but that didn’t work too well. Sapele is very brittle and splinters easily. I totally messed things up. How now?

Image

Eventually, the idea hit me to lean heavily on blue painter’s tape and a backer board as I pushed the top over the dado stack. So, I trimmed the messed up parts off and taped the snot out of the edges. I set up the dado and pushed the board through. WOO HOO! It worked. I drilled for three dowels, elongated the outer two holes in the tongue and assembled them with some glue right in the middle. I tapped the dowels into place, gluing the middle one and just putting a touch of glue at the top of the two outside dowels. This way, the top could expand and contract, and the dowels would stay put. I cut sweeping curves on the outside of the breadboard edges and sanded them very smooth.

I put the piece aside for a while and worked on other projects. I put in the inlay - a colored epoxy fill after I messed up the first attempt at the ash inlay. BUMMER... Glued the mortises in place through the top. I’m flying now!

Of course, I had totally forgotten about the feet. When I milled the top, I had taken the opportunity to mill some extra ash and sapele and glued those pieces into blanks. They were just sitting on my side bench, taking up space in the shop. How was I going to make those blocky feet look better? While mulling the options over, I cut the mortises to hold the leg tennons with the mortising chisels my wife and kids gave me for my birthday. That was fun.

Inspiration hit while I was looking at the breadboard edges. How about curving the outside of the feet? I traced the curve from the top on to the front edge of the legs and used the bandsaw to cut it out. They looked better, but still too blocky. I added a curve on the back side of the feet that mirrored the front curves… better. Then, just messing around, I clamped one of the feet into my vise and started using the spokeshave to bevel the top edge. Soon, I was beveling back both curves at a 20 degree angle to match the legs. Both bevels are parallel, which gives the feet a little more grace and lightness. Ohh, that was supposed to be the weakest part of the design… looks better now!

Image

I sanded and finished the piece and brought it to work. Hmmm… it didn’t show well. Something didn’t look quite right. The top was just too ‘light’ in comparison to the rest of the piece. It looked like an ironing board. Add to the impression that the first few people who saw it tried to sit on it. Hmm, we had a problem. How to fix it?

I remembered that I had a long rough piece of ash back at home. I opted to put an ash apron under the top. How large should it be? I played around with the proportions and decided that 5 inches would do the trick. I resawed, planed and cut the pieces to size, matching the angles found on the legs. Better, but still too blocky. How about a curve cut out of the bottom? Now it looked better. I glued and pocket screwed the apron into place (my only real option with the piece already glued up), sanded it and finished it to match. The apron added strength to the piece and gave it a more balanced appearance.

I turned the piece in a week ago, and it’s sitting in the locked glass case in the courthouse lobby. The reactions have been pretty positive. I’ve heard it described as ‘whimsical’ – not really something you would expect to see.

At 3:00 today, I’m going to find out how well this and the Position of Strength pieces placed. Hopefully, the judges will decide that my persistence with this piece was worth it. I’ll have an update later today![/img]

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:32 am 
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Very Nice!!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:14 am 
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Hey Tom, that sounds like my kind of cobble job. You've got so many oops's in there that except for the fact that it came out beautiful in the end, I could almost swear that it was one of my projects. Good job. One question, can't tell from the photos, did you do the apron on all 4 sides?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:20 am 
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Tom

Beautiful work and wonderful "How Too".

Thanks

Duan

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:50 am 
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That looks great Tom.

However, I thought is was a bench when I first looked at it. Maybe you could add some cup holders. :D :D :D

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:59 pm 
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The apron is only on two sides... You can see 'through' the aproned off area down the length of the piece... I figured the breadboard ends would keep the piece flat across the top.

And, yes, it does look rather 'benchish' doesn't it?

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* Why do they call it a WORKshop if I go there to have fun?
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* Passed 16,000 posts 7/23/09 - 8:41 a.m.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:20 pm 
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Another great save by Tampa Tom :D :D Yes, it does look whimsical, and it is a very original design.

Verna


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:22 pm 
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Verna wrote:
Another great save by Tampa Tom :D :D Yes, it does look whimsical, and it is a very original design.

Verna


I'm starting to get a complex... It can't be a woodworking project for me without a major "OOOPS" moment! :oops:

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* Purveyor of the world's finest Weasel Spit
* Why do they call it a WORKshop if I go there to have fun?
* Founding member: WWAFLAUX#1
* Passed 16,000 posts 7/23/09 - 8:41 a.m.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:24 pm 
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Very nice tablench, Tom. You are one VERY creative guy. Wouldn't surprise me if this design didn't end up in some WW magazine and start a rave.
Very classy work. I like it.

Don


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:55 pm 
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Beauty work Tom! Love the inlay and all the construction. Any project you learn from is a good one. 8) 8) 8)

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