Carpathian Elm Burl and Cherry Buffet
Woodworker: David Marr
Marr gives hope to all those with poor drawing skills. He doesn’t do measured drawings before he begins to build a piece of furniture. In fact, he doesn’t do even the roughest sketch. “I can’t draw,” he says. “I just get an idea for a piece and go into the shop and start building.” As he begins, he knows fairly well what he’s aiming for, but his concept can develop along the way. “I improvise as I build,” he says. “As the piece is coming along, if something doesn’t look right, I change it.”
With this buffet in carpathian elm burl and cherry (20 in. deep by 40 in. wide by 31 in. tall), he had the legs, side panels, and back made and dry-fitted before he had resolved the front. To get an idea what a bowed front would look like, he cut a curve into a piece of 8/4 poplar and fitted it between the front legs. That didn’t look right, and he had already tried and rejected a straight front. What about half bowed and half straight? When he tried out the idea with another piece of poplar, he instantly liked it, so he began building bowed drawers and a flat door.
The veneered top, too, evolved along the way. When he glued up the substrate-a piece of 3⁄4-in. lumbercore between sheets of 1⁄8-in. MDF-it was rectangular. But when Marr placed it on the dry-fitted carcase, the square corners of the top hid the curves of the drawers and the hand-shaped legs. He wanted those curves to be emphasized, not buried, so he shaped the top to follow the perimeter of the cabinet. He traced the shape onto 1⁄4-in. MDF to make a pattern, then flush-trimmed the substrate to the pattern.
Design without drawing. Marr dispenses with drawings, designing his pieces as he builds them. He decided to make the top of his buffet mimic the perimeter of the cabinet after seeing what a rectangular top looked like on the dry-fitted carcase.