A Square Deal (52)

Final Post in a series which has described the design and construction of a pair of tables in
bubinga. Previous installments can be found in the blog archive to the right of the page.


A somewhat absorbing final few days just getting things buttoned up and the packing crates done and arranging for shipping, etc., etc. I had intended to take the two tables to a local photography studio today, however the photographer appears to be away at the present time, so that plan was regrettably shelved. Instead I set up a simple backdrop and did my best with what I have. It would have been helpful if it had been a bright and sunny day, but no such luck. The florescent lighting and flash combine to make the bubinga look a little pale and washed out. But, it is what it is, and I’m hoping to convince the client to allow a professional photographer to visit his home and take a few pictures of the pieces installed. We’ll see how that goes. The  color on some of the pictures was adjusted using some features on my computer.

Anyway, here is the side table before it went in the crate:

As you can see, I elected to make the leveler feet black instead of trying to match the wood. I thought they make a nice counterpoint in black to the ebony hammerhead keys, kind of like a pair of dress shoes.

Drawer open:

Another view:

Back side with demountable panel:

Another view showing the top a bit better:

A look around the corners:




My favorite photo of the bunch:

In the above pic it’s looking a bit more like the red color I see with my own eyes.

The coffee table.

The following pics were taken late in the day and before I had waxed the table. I was trying to make use of what limited natural light there was before it was too late in the day.

There is a little unevenness in the breadboard end finish, however a little steel wood rubbing will take care of that:

Corner view:

Another view:

Another corner:

You can see that the top has expanded slightly relative to the breadboard end on that corner. The two parts were flush a couple of months ago.

On the down low:

Not the best photos (I am no pro with the camera) but they do show the pieces after they have been assembled and are in the final stages. The freight carrier will not be by until tomorrow, after 10:00 am at the earliest, so I’ll be rubbing out a coat of wax and a bit of steel wool work in the morning. Hopefully there will be some sunlight to help make things easier to see. The coffee table is already sitting in its crate, and it won’t take much to button that up.

I’m elated but kind of spent at this point after the push over the past 6 weeks or so. I need to recharge a bit.

I feel that these two tables were projects that allowed me the opportunity to push my boundaries a little bit, in various ways.

In summary, the details that are special to the coffee table are:

-completely glue free construction, and most of the joinery is readily demountable
-a thick slab top which has control kerfs milled on the underside to limit its ability to cup
-hammerhead keys on the ends to tie the breadboard ends tight and yet allow movement in the slab
-three-way miter joints with a novel joinery system and stepped surfaces. I feel these came out especially well.
-custom designed bronze leveler feet
-the use of pillow blocks, a borrowing from Japanese/chinese architecture, to achieve a ‘waist’ with negative space and promoting even air circulation around the table slab. This also conveys a sense that the top ‘floats’ a bit above the frame.
-the top is mechanically attached to the frame in eight places without recourse to metal fasteners. It’s all joinery.

In regards the the side table, many of the same aforementioned points apply, plus:

-completely glue free drawer construction with the use of lignum vitae wearing elements inside the cabinet, which should ensure that the drawer never wears out — and if it does it will be easy to replace the wear parts
-an etched wrought iron pull fastened in the manner of a wedged through mortise and tenon
-rear demountable panel with clips to allow east access to repair cabinet internals
-dust panels with pierced work and ebony backing pieces.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. I feel that end result of the design and build process here – the things I can take forward with me – have been the successful realization of an idea for putting 3-way mitered corner joints together, along with a method of attaching a slab top to a framework without recourse to the usual methods, and finding that my ideas for a glue free drawer were entirely do-able. I feel I’ve honored the material I was given to work with, and hope the client is pleased with the result. The tables are heavy!

All for today – look for a topic change with the next entry on the Carpentry Way.

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