Circular table construction
I am in the process of designing an end table project. It will be a circular design with three legs. The top will be 30″ diameter with a 3.5″ skirt around the sides and interconnecting to the legs. Construction will be honduras mahogany.
My question is: What is the best method to make the skirt. I am tempted to either slice 1/4″ sheets of the stock material and laminating them or use multi-layers of 1/8″ plywood and laminating them. I am fearful the plywood will finish much different and therefore very apprehensive about going that route.
Do you know of any article or articles that explain circular construction?
You can go either way, or you can even laminate the ply and veneer that with something really nice. Then it should finish nicely. If the piece is to be "fine furniture" then use all solids. But that can be a real pain.
It will be a challenge to bend 1/4" thick laminations around a 28" dia form (allowing for 1" overhang on top). Probably, you'll have better luck with 1/8" thickness.
For a similar project a while back, I used 3/8" bending plywood. Three laminations thick, wrapped around a form. It's a bit of a pain to cut and fit each layer. Stagger the butt joints so they don't line up from one lamination to the next. Once this is glued up, its remarkably strong. Then veneer, using another layer of bending ply over the veneer as a caul. I used nylon band clamps to pull everything up.
If this is a pedestal table (mine was), pick straight grain for the veneer, and cut long scarf joints where the ends overlap. I did the veneering in two steps, gluing one piece of the veneer down, and then fitting a second piece of the same stock to it. I taped one joint , then fitted the other end. If you cut the veneer a little over wide, this will give a little give-and-go as far as length is concerned. That is, as the veneer is pulled up tight, it will slide along the joint to take up any slack. Make sure the joint stays together as you are pulling it up! That's the hard part.
If there are legs mounted on the apron, plan the splices in the veneer where the legs will cover them, don't worry how they match up. Cut a bridle joint, or a sliding dovetail for the leg to apron joint.
Thanks for the info. Did you steam the wood or bend cold?
The bending ply is very flexible, until it's laminated together. Bend cold. Then veneer as a separate step.
If you are laminating mahogany, I'd recommend using thin enough laminations that you can bend them cold as well. Mahogany doesn't steam bend very well, hardly worth the effort.
I really appreciate the feedback. Am I safe to say yellow glue will suffice. I normally use the Titebonds or LePage glues.
Yes, Titebind is what I used. Do a dry run first. Not much time to [email protected] around when it comes to getting the clamps on.
This was done with 1/8" slices of cherry clamped between male/female forms and glue laminated. (Lower interior curved parts are 1/16th" laminates). Aprons are joined to the legs with M&T joints then pinned thru the tenons.
Sorry in advance for the picture quality. I'd just gotten the digital cam and was still learning with it. Got some very wierd reflections off the kitchen floor that look like bird crud on the bottom of the legs.
Very nice work. I'll bet the lattice grid was fun.Jerry
Thanks for the compliment.
Fun isn't exactly the word I would have chosen. That was the 3rd of 4 similar design tables. One was a low (square) coffee table. The other 2 were end tables where I used a square grid for a lower shelf (for magazines/WW catalogs/etc). I just thought a solid shelf looked too clumsy for what I had in mind. When I got to this half moon table, no amount of sketching ideas could get a square grid to look right with a curved table. So I was kind of roped into the curved grid if I wanted the same look. I did learn an awful lot layout and technique wise by doing it though, so in the end I guess it was worth the effort.
Wow! More people could see this ambitious project if you posted it in the Gallery. I'm dazzled by that lower shelf!
Great looking table. I hope mine comes out as good. What is the detail in the outer rim of the top? Is that inlay?
Thanks. Yeah, it's just a 1/16th strip of Paduak that I routed in about 1/8" deep then sanded flush with the top. One of the easiest (but most satisfying) parts of building the whole table actually.
If you end up using solid wood like I did, here's one way you can do it. Not necessarily the BEST way, just the way I did it. Make both Male & Female bending forms (make sure to account for the thichness of the laminate stack when you cut the form's inner/outer radii). Put some witness marks on the edges of the stock before you start resawing so you can put the lam back together with the same grain orientation it originally had. I resawed slightly thicker on the bandsaw then ran them thru the drum sander to clean them up. Then I put 1/8" stickers between each slat in the stack and stuck the whole stack into a disposable wallpaper applicator tray with hot water for about 1/2 hour. Pulled them out of the water and wiped them down quickly to get rid of the excess water, then I clamped the whole stack between the forms (without gluing) and let them dry for about a week. When I pulled them out of the forms they had the curve memorized and I had a lot less wrestling to do when I started gluing up and putting them back in the forms.
As for glue, I ended up using Urac adhesive from http://www.nelsonpaint.com It's a two-part powder & hardener that you have to mix. I read a recommendation for it either in a book on veneering or a WW mag article on bent lamination - can't remember where. The stuff dries to a dark brownish-red so glue lines dont show up on darker woods. Haven't had any glue creep with it.
Edited 11/24/2004 7:30 am ET by douglas2cats
Edited 11/24/2004 7:31 am ET by douglas2cats
Really nice-looking table! That lattice-work shelf is very striking.Exactly how did you do the routing for that padauk inlay around the edge? I keep trying to think up a way to use a router edge guide to go around a curved edge."Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." A. Einstein
I did all the cuts for the top with a router and circle cutting jig. Trying to do the inlay slot with just an edge guide would scare the crap out of me. I think it would be sheer luck if the line stayed true. I had quite a few circular cuts to make - inner/outer radii, rabbet on inner radii (for the Corian), and the slot for the inlay. I had a full size template of MDF that also doubled as a workboard. After I got the arc segments glued together, I put a couple of screws through the MDF into the bottom of the stock. I used those metal table top fastening clips to hook the top to the apron, so I planned my screw holes to work as the clip attachment hole. Either way, you won't see them as they're behind the apron. I also screwed a scrap block the same thickness as the table top onto the MDF at the point that was going to be my pivot point. The inlay slot is about 1/8" deep and was done in about 4 passes. Those 1/16" bits are pretty fragile and you've got to take it very easy.
You can make your own tramel arm to do the circle cuts. I picked up the MicroFence system at a WW show about 6-7 yrs and have been real happy with it. It's kinda pricey, but you can adjusts things in 1/1000ths to get cuts exactly where you want them.
Since I'm getting a fair amount of questions on the top inlay, I thought I'd attach this 2nd file as well. It shows the top alot better.
Thanks Doug! That makes sense.Smallest bits I've used in a router were 1/8" and they were fragile enough... didn't know 1/16 was even possible. OK, now that we have that settled - how did you join the pieces for the top?"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." A. Einstein
I've been able to find 1/16" bits at local suppliers. They don't seem to be a specialty mail-order only item. I think I may have even bought one or two at Home Depot?
I used biscuits to join the top segments together. Can't remember for sure whether I used single or double biscuits at each joint. It's been a while, but I'm thinking I may have used 2 at each joint. Just trace your inner/outer radii on the pieces first before you mark your biscuit locations so that you dont accidently put a biscuit where it will be visible after shaping the circle. I thought of this AFTER I initially marked for biscuits but thankfully before I cut. I thought I had allowed for enough clearance, but I would have ended up just nicking the biscuit slot in a couple of places if I hadn't traced the circle and relocated.
The MicroFence edge guide I have actually has a base with rounded contacts for following outside curves. But since I already had the circle-jig attachment for it anyway, I opted for that method. I'm just not as confident control-wise with the other method. One sawdust-induced sneeze, telephone ring, or loud fart and your hand can jerk just enough to mess up your cut. The tramel arm just seems more secure to me.
"Exactly how did you do the routing for that padauk inlay around the edge? I keep trying to think up a way to use a router edge guide to go around a curved edge."
One way to dado for the inlay with an adjustable edge guide would be to make a couple of half-round blocks and attach them to the face of the guide a couple of inches apart. Use hot-melt adhesive to attach them to the guide. The blocks ride against the edge of the circle. Keep both blocks on the edge and you'll get a perfect match.
Regards,Bill Arnold - Custom Woodcrafting
Food for Thought: The Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
Thanks Bill, I've been thinking along those lines myself. Something like that would work on non-circular curves as well, as long as they were convex."Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." A. Einstein
Another option for using solid stock to make the curved skirt is to kerf your three quarters stock, or whatever thickness you use, so it will bend to the right radius. It's fast and easy; and the appearence would be the same as if you had bent solid stock.
If the skirt needs to have some structural strength, after you've kerfed and bent it, you can fill the kerfs with sawdust mixed with glue, epoxy thickened with micro-balloons, auto body putty, my famous and well-beloved pancake batter, or just about anything sticky that has some body.
When I had all my power tools I used the old kerf trick a lot. Nowadays, being a hand tool devotee, I've had to find other ways.
I really appreciate all the feedback. This option really sounds interesting and I will definitely try it on a proto-type. Thanks.
I have always been a solid wood fanatic and have never really built anything which requires bending. I see alot of furniture that uses bent wood components and realize I need to learn the tricks to build some of the pieces I have plans for.
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