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A Lazy Suzan for Zeus Himselfcomments (3) May 8th, 2014 in blogs
RH Lee manages Nick Offerman's collective-style workshop in Los Angeles. Lee began working with wood at age 7, when she was enrolled in the Kids Carpentry program in her hometown of Berkeley, CA. Years later, she built theater sets at Brown University, then moved to San Francisco, where she built sets in small theaters and worked for 5 years at the Exploratorium museum, building interactive science exhibits and honing her skills in woodworking and furniture-building. Since moving to LA in 2008, Lee has been managing Offerman Woodshop, building custom furniture on commission, and continuing to build outdoor exhibits for the Exploratorium.
A Lazy Suzan for Zeus Himself
"Zeus's Wagon Wheel" was the result of a year-long design conversation between two comedians, which I mediated through sketches and renderings, and finally, lots of sawdust.
The design constraints for this table were 1) we were to use the stack-laminated and 4x4 timbers that came out of the client's gutted new home and 2) the table should accommodate the client, his wife and the 26 children he planned to beget. After various iterations, we settled on an 80" diameter circular table, which should comfortably seat 10 around the periphery (with the other 16 piled up in the center or spread out under the trestle). To see how we built the table itself, check out my blogs on the Offerman Woodshop site. A Lazy Susan was our solution to the problem of passing the mustard across an 80" divide.
While the traditional (think Chinese restaurant) Lazy Susan-a solid circle that sits above the table surface-would have been much simpler to engineer, we chose to make ours a free spinning ring, flush to the table surface. We were not only aesthetically drawn to the the "racing-stripe" look the ring provided, but we were also driven by a perverse masochism-the desire to create and conquer a complex engineering feat.
A Smart Track
Luckily, my 10+ years of building interactive exhibits for the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco gave me plenty of background in building kinetic objects/furniture. More importantly, all that collaborating with engineers, physicists, and interactive artists on exhibits provided me with some very smart friends. So naturally, I contacted my long time collaborator, mechanical engineer and exhibit developer Jesse Marsh, to help me design the mechanism that would allow this ring to spin gracefully and precisely for years to come.
Jesse designed a system where steel ball transfers (huge ball-bearings) mounted inside a pocket in the table run lightly along a chamfered surface on the underside of our ring. The ball transfers are positioned to keep the ring aligned concentrically in the pocket and paired across the circle so they oppose each other, thus eliminating possible runout. That meant that the circular chamfered surface under the Lazy Susan had to be flawless.
posted in: blogs, table, offerman, lazy susan, lee
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