Dining Table No. 1 has arrived in its new home. I was enormously nervous while delivering this table, I was unsure of how stable the table would be but was very pleasantly surprised to find I could actually sit on the outer edge of the glass without the table so much as budging. Relief. The current piece of glass is from the clients old dining table, they plan on purchasing a longer piece of glass that may have some shape to it. I will professional photograph it once the real top has arrived.
The slats have all been fit on Dining Table No. 1. After having steamed and twisted the 66 white oak slats they had a lot of water stains on the slats. The water stains were on the slats when they came out of the steam box, I can't say for sure why but my hunch is I didn't have them spaced out enough and/or condensation was dripping down onto the slats throughout the steaming process. In most cases I wouldn't worry to much about it, just scrape and sand until clear. However the design called for the outside face of the slats to have a bandsawn texture, this meant I was going to have to find another way of removing the water stains.
Some internet searching led me to find an organic compound solution, oxalic acid, which is a poison found in rhubarb. I ended up in what I can only best describe as a mad laboratory studio in the east end of Toronto where I purchased a 100g of the powder. Mixed roughly 10 parts water to 1 part Oxalic Acid I began scrubbing away at the stains with a wire brush. The test proved semi successful, although the stains were mostly gone the colour in the wood went with it leaving a sort of washed out dirty bleached look. It was undesirable for the finish I was looking to attain and meant going back to the drawing board.
With no real explanation as to why I thought it would work I decided to try and steam the stains out (last resort). Armed with my second hand iron and a wet clean rag I began steaming the water stained spots. Much to my disbelief the stains were lifting right out of the wood and actually transferring onto the rag. Some of the darkest spots took a couple tries but in the end I was left with clean (and wrinkle free) slats. I prepped them for finish by using the wire brush in line with the bandsaw marks to clean the slats and sanded a small chamfer on the edges. Few coats of wipe-on-poly later and I couldn't be happier. As much as I had fun with my brief organic compound trial, I am thrilled that steam was the solution. Be it bending, twisting, fixing dents or removing water stains, steam is the trick.
After a bit of a delay we're back on to the metal dining table with the twisted white oak slats. I know there have already been pictures of the twisted slats and a video of us "getting our twist on," but we're going to take a step back on this post. Below are pictures of the metal frame I had fabricated which will hold (frame) 66 twisted white oak slats. In order for the frame to properly hold the twisted wood slats it also requires the metal angle iron to twist from acute to obtuse back to acute, or vice-versa. This is also happening along a curve, two curves actually.
So, in order to ensure as much accuracy as possible (we're kind of out in space after all) I not only provided a full scale drawing but also made jigs/forms for my metal worker to fabricate the curved twisting angle iron. You can see the angle blocks change from acute to obtuse along the curve, he used these to clamp a strip of cold rolled steel along, and then butt a curved section up to it tacking it along the way. The result was fabricating curved angle iron that changes from acute to obtuse back to acute, or vice-versa.
There is also a twisted straight section where the angle iron changes from acute to obtuse down the length, no curves, these pieces will make up the triangular ends.
A lot of head scratching went on with this one, at this point I still had no idea just how the wood slats were going to get fit and attached to the frame. There was also the dilemma of not actually knowing if the piece would be sturdy enough to hold a large piece of glass, but its working in the world of unknown that keeps this exciting.
Before you get into this, I am sorry, this post is long, it may or may not make a lot of sense, and I am sure a lot of people would argue with what I have said. Carry on. Indestructible miter. A bold claim I know. Indestructible and miter are words that do not often go together. The miter opened up, this mitre won't close, why did I choose to use these damn miters, all a lot more common to hear.
But bear (bare?) with me here, what you are about to see below is an adapted version of a joint that was introduced to me as "the indestructible miter." Or if you would like to take it down a few notches on the "awesome scale" the plywood L-tenon. It is exactly as it sounds. Plywood and indestructible are again two words we are not used to hearing together, but it is the perfect material for an L-Tenon.
Why you may be asking? Alternating grain direction for maximum strength. It is really just that simple. Miters are difficult to join because of the amount of end grain in the joint (end grain has no glue strength). This is why typically we cut keys or splines in a miter joint is to gain some "face grain glue surface."
But isn't half of plywood end grain? Sounds like you are going against your own advice....
You got me, it's true, but the other half is perfect face grain to face grain glue surface. And the end grain portion on the one side of the miter is the face grain on the other part of the board. Tricky no?
But there's another part to this equation. Keys / splines and most other miter "joinery" has very little "depth" into the actual boards. This may be okay for little boxes, or a casepiece, but chairs are under stress, a lot of stress, and they need something a little more substantial. The "L-Tenons" allow me to route deep (in this case around 2") mortises into both parts. What I end up with is a 2" worth of tenon (and a longer bit could get me more) into either side of the miter. Quite a bit of depth all things considered. Couple this with the alternating grain and you have a joint that is "indestructible," relatively speaking anyways.
This may be a lot to take in at this point, hopefully the pictures will clear it up some. For the record these are a bit of a variation on your standard "Plywood L-Tenon" as they are obtuse angles and canted as well. Testing as to the actual strength will commence once the stool is together. Stay tuned.
So with the mock-up complete for Bar Stool No. 3 it was time to move on to a more detailed full scale drawing. Below is a drawing that the more I tried to simplify it the more complicated it appeared. The result was my brain getting pretty mushy and working on something else for the morning (see the post about dodecahedrons). In the end I needed to trust the angles and dimensions I had laid out and went to cutting the compound mitred frames that will make up this stool. The picture at the bottom is with the angles cut and pieces of tape wrapped around the outside of the miter to see how everything fits together. I should have been able to visualize this from my drawing (maybe?) but was pleasantly surprised when I began piecing the parts together and revealed the "double mitre" joint that will be visible from the back of the stool.
A couple months ago now I received a phone call from Peter Korn wondering if I would be interested in co-teaching a Chair Making class with Jeff Miller this September-October. Having been fortunate enough to have taught at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship (CFC) the previous two summers I thought I was being "given the summer off." I was thrilled to be presented the opportunity and excitedly accepted the job offer.
It was a hectic two weeks but a helluva lot of fun. Seeing people starting to "get it" is a pretty remarkable thing to watch and even more rewarding when you played a part in getting them there. I had a great time teaching with Jeff Miller (check out his work and blog at www.furnituremaking.com) and learnt a lot from this chair making (and teaching) veteran. He was very encouraging to me as a teacher, I am still learning at this teaching gig so every bit of advice is helpful.
As for the students I couldn't have been more impressed with what they were able to accomplish in just two weeks. Coming from a wide array of backgrounds these 12 gentleman powered through what is arguably one of the hardest challenges in woodworking, the chair. Kudos to all of the students who made the class what it was, Jeff, Karl the awesome assistant and the CFC for hosting. Here's to good times and hopefully more to come.
Dining Table No. 1 is going to consist of 66 twisted wood slats twisted to 16 different angles. We are using 3/4" thick kiln dried white oak that will be steamed at 200+ degrees fahrenheit for around 2 hours. Here is a video of the twisting in action. Clamps, we also needed a lot of clamps, seriously.
Incorporating metal into my furniture is something I have a growing interest in as of late. It opens new doors for pushing the boundaries of traditional construction and forms. Below is a sketch of a dining table commission, it will at some point be a metal frame that will house 66 twisted wood slats in the weeks to come. Stay tuned for updates of the process and headaches that will surely follow.
First post on the new blog, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Reed Hansuld and I design / build custom furniture.
I plan on using this blog as a place to spotlight the process of making my ideas reality. Enjoy! I am going to start with a video we shot last week of a kiln dried white oak blank being steam twisted. Dimensions are approximately 3/4" x 2" x 34". We were steaming and twisting 60+ blanks over the weekend in preparation for a dining table that will be constructed over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for updates of the process.