Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Hay Rake table round up.

I had a lot of fun with this project. The joinery was challenging. (There will be a post-script on the stretcher joinery soon.) The fact that I built it without a table saw put an interesting twist on the process. Using the drawknife put a goofy grin on my face. I really liked the finished piece. And in the end, the client was happy with the end result, which is what's really important.

The structure of the base is very interconnected. Four pieces come together simultaneously at each end of the stretcher bar, and the resulting geometry determines the position of the legs. (I'll do a post script soon about how the joinery comes together.) The legs each have bridle joints cut into the top that capture the cross bars that support the table top. They also have tenons in the middle of each bridle joint that go through those cross bars, which locks everything together. The corresponding mortises have to be cut accurately, or they'll mess with the leg position, which will keep the stretcher joints from closing fully. Or, if the joints don't close, the legs won't join properly to the cross bars. Everything has the potential to mess up everything else. But when it all comes together properly, the resulting whole is a stout, strong piece of furniture.

Working with reclaimed lumber was interesting, and eye opening. It's pricey, and full of nails. That said, the aesthetics of the spruce caught me off guard. I don't normally go in for the rustic thing, but the boards were beefier than normal, from a pre- home center age. And they felt pretty dense for spruce. All of that, combined with the base, came together as a finished piece that really grabbed me. And I had to admit to the client that I didn't really want to give it to her. (I only admitted this once it was in her dining room... there's no sense in worrying people unnecessarily.)

I'm a big fan of Barnsley furniture to begin with, but the potential that his style represents for the way I want to work is impossible to ignore. The joinery is stout, but straightforward. The chamfering looks great, and is an opportunity to put hand tools efficiently to work in a way that embellishes the piece. I've been meaning to design more furniture anyway, but now I'm feeling a little more inspired to look into old timber framing and other stoutly designed structures for influences...

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