A Square Deal (27)

Today was devoted entirely to the little dust panels which fit in between the pillow blocks. These panels, though not visible on the table until one’s eye’s are below the table top level, seemed worth detailing  a bit further. I like putting things in that await discovery by the curious.

I chose to cut a Chinese decorative motif into the fronts-  a begonia pattern. The four characteristic petals of the oval flower found on the begonia is one of the floral shapes favored by Chinese artisans since the Song Dynasty. It can be found in pottery, porcelain, lacquer and jade work. According to the book Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, legend has it that the begonia was created by a woman’s tears. Deserted by her beloved, she would weep in her garden. The ground, nurtured by her constant tears, sent forth a begonia to comfort her. When the begonia is used in art, especially in combination with other symbols, it often connotes a play on other words with similar phonetic reading, and connotes ‘calm’.

Because the begonia blooms in the fall and the pink blossoms bear a slight resemblance to those of the crab apple (which blooms in spring), or haitang (海棠), the Chinese name for the plant is literally ‘autumn crab apple’ qiuhaitang (秋海棠).  I like the shape of the motif and decided it would add an organic decorative touch to this piece of furniture.

Cutting the begonia pattern out of the dust panels took most of the day, and that was followed by hollowing out the back of the panels with a recess having a sloped perimeter wall-  a piece of ebony was then shaped as a dovetail plug to fit in the recess:

The ebony plug slides in from the top:

All the way down, with just the top edge of the ebony yet to be planed flush:

Here, a view of two of the panels placed back around a middle pillow block:

I thought it would be nice to scope out how it will look with the top in place, so I assembled the parts:

Another view:

Last one for today:

I like how these came out. I was thinking the day was going to be a bit tedious as I worked my way through the eight panels, but it went fairly smoothly and without issue, so what more can you ask for?

All for today, except for some additional milling on the lignum vitae runners and associated parts. The lignum vitae is remaining well behaved between milling steps, which is good considering its rather exorbitant price and scarcity. I think I’ll focus on drawer construction tomorrow.

Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way – see you next time. On now to post 28.

4 Replies to “A Square Deal (27)”

  1. Mitchell,

    well, the ebony slides in like a dovetail, and is held by a certain amount of friction as well as the fit is slightly on the tight side. If you turned the dust panel itself upside down the ebony piece would not fall out. It's held in there sufficiently well that to remove it one would have to be tap it out with a drift.


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