Word From The Architect

I've always tried to create houses and furniture that express the nature of both the materials tind the construction process Whether it's exposing bolts in steelwork or leaving the joinery uncovered in wood, the effect is always powerful.

The m onumental scale of some of the rooms in the house led principal architect Peter Bohtm and me to these furniture designs. We needed sizable legs and cross members so that the furniture wouldn't seem lost agamst me 9-tn. square columns that frame the house. We also designed overlapping and penetrating infections to match the Arts-and-Crafts or Japanese-like joinery seen throughout the home it was clear early on that Erk: Keii understood the styles that we were trying to create.

One aspect of this project that was amazingly successful was the collaboration between an owner, a craftsman and designers Often, when too many people become involved in a project, the outcome becomes diluted. But that never hap-peneo ■ parties were involve ! at each phase of the work, including full-sized mock-ups to see how the pieces would fit in the room. The work between Eric and me was almost always hands-on. I'd visit his shop at least every other week, and sometimes more.

Toward the end of the project, our sketches to Eric consisted only of the major dimensions and no notes. Eric knew what we wanted, and we trusted his judgment, so we didn't have to waste time mapping out every detail. This process led to the successful execution of all of the fur niiure. including th s so'vi table

A MEETING OF MINDS. Furniture maker Eric Keil (nght) and architect Ro&ert McLaughlin discuss concerns about the sofa table's design.

coarser bottom cut because of the related angle at which the saw cuts through the material When cutting w ith a raised blade, be sure the blade guard is in place.

I milled the solid frame pieces in. thicker ll i renter panel. This, along with careful glue-up, made lr easier to hand-plaiu ill train» flush to tlu u*in i:

Frame members were cut to length and then grooved on the tablesaw. .Although spline joinery by itself might have been sufficient. I added biscuits above the spline so that any discrepancies in flushness would show on the unexposed bottom of the tabletop rather than on top.

Because of the relative sloppmess of biscuit joiner)-, excess glue got trapped in the joint when the tabletop was glued up. This, coupled w ith the swelling of the biscuits, meant that I had to allow the swelling to go down before working the tabletop. Sanding or scraping the surface before the swelling had subsided would have left biscuit-shaped depressions in the finish.

After I milled splines to fit the grooves. I beveled the corners slightly to ease assembly. Splines can also be milted a little shy in width to allow excess glue to escape—and to ensure that the visible top joints pull tight. I cut the long splines 2 in. short in length so that the exposed spline could be hand-fitted. During clamping, 1 used a straightedge to make sure the slightly proud faces of the solid frame were parallel to the center panel.

Where the splines are exposed on the end of the table, a I-in. length of spline was tightly fitted and set into place. I did this before the glue from the tabletop assembly had a chance to harden, eliminating the need to chisel dried glue out of the mortise. I tapped the I-in. spline home, trimmed it flush and left the assembly to set over night.

Faux Finger Joints

The I6-in.-deep cabinet under the sofa table was the most labor intensive part of the project. When I make a finger-jointed box. I typically cut the sides to size, machine the joinery and assemble it all at once. But this cabinet wouldn't go together that way. I decided to make n bv stacking four 4-in.-decp butt-jointed boxes see the photos on p. 64 . Alternately butted and slacked, the boxes create a strong cabinet.

Rather than gluing up each of the four boxes separately and then stacking them in a subsequent operation. I had to glue together the 16 individual pieces at the same time. The process is nerve-racking and fast paced, but it was much easier to manipulate 16 loose pieces than to try to force four rigid boxes to come together as one. Slow-setting white glue, calm preparation and sfvcial clamping blocks helped eventhing go smoothly. I also cut the biscuit slots so that the exposed end grain would be a hair proud.

After flushing up these end-grain surfaces with a jack plane. I was ready to make the interior dividers. By using a biscuit machine as a groove cutter. I was able to slide the interior dividers into place after the exterior box had been assembled. After that, the cabinet needed only a quick scraping and some final sanding.

End-Grain Inserts in the Tabletop

I he legs were doweled to the cross member that supports the cabinet, then set into place under the tabletop. Waiting to cut mortises until the legs were attached to the cabinet ensured that the end-grain inserts would align with the legs below. A router with a template guide and a small-diameter straight-cutting bit made it easy to cut the mortises (see the top photo on the facing page). The small-diameter bit reduced the radius of the mortise corners, so I only had to chop them square with a chisel.

In a previous project with the same detail. I made the end-grain inserts too thin. During clamping, glue worked its way to the top surface. The glue-saturated pieces had to be removed and redone—a lesson not soon forgotten. This time, I left the

-in.-thick end-grain inserts a hair thicker than the depth of the mortises so that I could plane them flush later.

With a lower assemble of such weight, I worried that small screws would pull away from the MDF if the table was lifted bv the

Inserts mimic through-tenons top. To be safe. I used lag screws. 7 he morrises for the end-grain inserts were drilled to accept 6-in. lag screws and washers. After 11.whine ilii- 11 ' r. I ■■.■■■. mM\

the holes were filled to the bottom ot the mortises wirh auto-body filler see the middle photo at right . This eliminated any swelling caused tn pockets of excess glue. It also prohibited any metal-to-glue contact

■ f r color I Ik i, nd -j! in insert 1 didn't use common wood fillers because thev tend to shrink, which would have left depressions in the tabletop.

I carehilh fit the inserts and fine-tuned them with a rigid sanding block. Yellow glue might eventually fail, allowing the inserts to pull away from their housings, so I coated the end-grain inserts with polyurerhane glue and clamped them tightlv into place see the bottom photo at right .

A Final Touch

I made two frame-and-panel doors and dovetailed maple drawers with cherry bottoms. They were then fitted and sanded. Doors were hung on concealed hinges, and drawers were filled to maple slides,

I finished the enure table with a coat of vinyl sealer and two light coats of catalyzed lacquer sprayed on with low-pressure system. I cut the lacquer and sealer with retarder thinner, which allows more time lor a finish to level out. The reiarder thinner also prevents ihc more porous veins in the wood tr i i filling up. Ii iving a mon natt appearance, akin to that ot an oil finish.

Four years after I made the piece, the sofa lable looks as pristine as it did the da\ it u . live red. T1 t - hniqiu ■■ ucili/i d seem to have been time worthv. When I reflect on this project, I still get ¿ratification from how tightlv crafted this table is.

■■ uhiT thine ti> n makt s this t ihli so intriguing is the weight of the large cherry timbers and Robert McLaughlins design. In the large room where n lives, the table ippears to grow gracetullv from the floor.

How To Sell Furniture

How To Sell Furniture

Types Of Furniture To Sell. There are many types of products you can sell. You just need to determine who your target market is and what specific item they want. Or you could sell a couple different ones in a package deal.

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