NBSS Week 29- The basket weave table drawer, the scales table, and the design process on my case piece


At the end of last week I had prepared all of the drawer pieces to begin cutting the dovetails on the basket weave table.

I came in this Sunday put on some Reggae music and cut away. These dovetails were a bit tricky, again because of all of the angles in the table. The front half blinds were particularly challenging as the drawer face is lipped on the top and bottom to function as the drawer stop, so the dovetails are cut in the middle (no top or bottom edges to line up with). In addition, because the drawer tapers a bit towards the front, the top dovetail has to be a bit larger than the bottom so that they follow the taper.

With that done I also milled and glued together the wood I’ll be using to make the drawer bottom.

Now that the drawer pieces were ready, it was time to carve the last basket weave pattern on the drawer face.

This took most of Monday morning and after lunch I went ahead and glued the drawer together. It went smoother than expected so I let it dry and moved on to cutting the drawer bottom to size and then cutting the bottom bevels.

Tuesday began with fitting the drawer bottom into the drawer. After this was completed it was time to fit the drawer to the table. With a little bench work and some minor tweaks to level the bottom of the drawer, drumroll please…





















With the fitting done I carved a finger pull on the bottom face of the drawer and worked on the top.





















I had already glued to top together so it was now time to cut it to size and bevel the bottom. After some machine work and a wonderful bit of time with my handplanes (oh did I mention how well Spanish Cedar planes, and the smell…) here’s the finished top.

The next step was to level the legs. For this I made a copy of one of Lance’s tools called a “mouse” and used it to mark the legs on all 4 sides off of a referenced flat surface, in this case the cast iron top of one of our tablesaws.

Then it was back to the bench to cut to the lines with my handsaw. Now for the scary part: leveling the top. For this process Lance showed me how to put the whole table up onto the tablesaw, angle the blade, and then use the tablesaw fence with the now leveled legs riding against it to feed the table into the blade, cutting a parallel and level edge on all 4 sides of the top of the table. It was a bit awkward but worked well and I had very little bench work left afterwards to get the top to sit perfectly flat. With that the table is constructed and ready for final sanding and finishing. (I’ll complete this process in about 2 weeks in conjunction with finishing the scales table.)

What’s the scales table you ask? Good question! I had previously submitted two tables for inclusion in the end-of-year “Annual Celebration of Craft” at North Bennet Street. This week I found out that they had selected the scales table for the show. Here’s the base.





















It’s a bowed triangle shape, like the rotor in a Wankle rotary engine or the shape of a shield. The top is the same shape and will be veneered with a parquetry pattern that I created to look like the scales of a fish or maybe even a dragon,






















now why you ask dragons….I’ll give you a small hint: What HBO show will premier in two weeks?

Ah, new deadlines! Oh I forgot to mention that the scales table needs to be done by May 16th and that means I’ve got to start the parquetry for the top. I’ll work on some practice samples this weekend.

With the time left during the rest of the week I put in my project proposal for my next NBSS required project: the case piece. I’ve decided to do a small bowed front wall hanging key cabinet. The design will feature a coopered front door, a geometric pierced design panel on the inside, and an interior light that will turn on when the door is open. The whole cabinet will be veneered and have some sort of design on the front, either a geometric diamond pattern, or maybe some marquetry or carving of a koi fish. So with all of these design ideas in mind I began to rough sketch the initial idea to help nail down some specifics like actual size and the desired curvature of the front door. Next week I’ll draft the project full scale.

The Lance lecture this week wasn’t by Lance at all. Instead we had a presentation on drawing with scale and perspective by the president of NBSS, Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez. Miguel demonstrated the use of two point perspective to give our furniture drawings more visual appeal and depth. He also explained a bit about shading and the importance of viewing perspective to help convey our ideas and designs. We were then all asked to quickly sketch some items Miguel placed around the room. It was interesting to see everybody’s drawing as we all had a different “view”. He also encouraged us to continue sketching daily and arranged for fellow student Michael Riley  to lead an informal weekly lunchtime sketch class going forward. Interesting stuff!

Next week, drafting the key cabinet, a bunch of parquetry and veneer work for the scales table, and the start of the candle box, until then…

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