Sculpting a Table with Wings


today I’m building this little table
with wings. Now I realized the shape of this little table may not be to
everyone’s liking. Wwhen the client described the design to me I was a
little skeptical that I could even build the thing. The shape of the top and lower
shelf seemed like it would be really hard to make exactly the same, if I
were to carve them by hand. But once I figured out an order of operations, it
greatly simplified the build. Once I milled up all the lumber I glued up the
top and bottom shelf. Usually when I do a glue up of this kind I use biscuits or
dominoes to keep the pieces from slipping while tightening the clamps. Now
since these are going to get a lot of material carved out from the center. I
wanted to make sure I wouldn’t expose a misplaced domino while carving, so I took
a little extra time during the glue up. to try to keep the pieces aligned with
each other. When cutting the pieces to length I butted the two pieces
together to add a little bit more stability with the track Once I had them cut to length, i used
the temple to trace out the wing shape on the ends of each piece then headed to
the table saw to cut away the bulk of the material I set up a dado stack about three
quarters of an inch wide. There’s a lot of material to cut away all at once. I
just took small passes I started on the outside edges and work
my way towards the middle. This seemed a little safer because if the piece
wandered away from the fence during the cut the back of the blade would most
likely end up in the void I had already cut and reduced the chance of kicking
back. I slowly worked my way across the piece and raised the blade to the final
depth of cut and repeated the process. Once I had the center waste removed, it
was time to cut the lower curve. I raised the blade to the height of the curve
then sited down the blade adjusting the angle until it matched the curve as
close as I could get it. I clamped a sacrificial fence to the table for the
workpiece to ride against. I lowered the blade and made shallow past
letting the edge of the saw teeth do the cutting. With each pass I raise the blade about
the height of the carbide of the teeth of the saw blade. Several passes later I
reach my layout line. The remaining wood would be cleaned up at the bench with
some hand tools. Before I cut the shape of the upper
curves I wanted to get rid of the majority of the waste material so I
tipped the blade roughly to the same angle as the curve, I adjusted the fence the right distance and cut away the excess. Then for the inner curve I did the same
thing. Readjusted the angle of the blade, the blade height, and the distance from
the fence, and cut away the excess material. I played it safe not wanting to cut too
deep on the inside cut, so there was a ridge of excess wood I needed to remove.
A chisel and mallet made quick work of that. Once I had the edge cleaned up I
turned to my hand plane to smooth out the top to get rid of the saw marks left
behind from the dado blade. In this orientation I am planing across the
grain so I stopped periodically to sharpen the blade. More often than usual I used a hold fast to add a little extra
downward pressure when I moved on to the wings To create the curve I took shallow
passes working the plane back and forth following the curved layout line. The
closer I got to the line and curved shape the shallower passes I took. I
should also mention that I cut the piece about an inch wider than needed so I
would not have to worry about any tear-out happening on the edges.
Especially since I’m planning across the grain tear-out is inevitable To refine the curve and get rid of the
planer marks Iused a Festool interface sanding pad.It works great on
irregular surfaces and contours to shape the workpiece. After finishing up sanding I moved on to
ripping the legs to the widest width I set up a stop on my miter gauge and
cut them to their final length. To attach the legs to the top and shelf I’m going
to use dowel joinery so I made a quick jig to help me center the hole on all
the legs. It’s a pretty simple Jig. I drilled the hole in one of the cut-offs and used
some CA glue to add a couple of fences to register against. Then clamp it to the
leg, drilled a quick hole and moved on to the next leg Since the legs are tapered on all four
sides a standard tapering jig was not going to work. So I cobbled together a
quick jig from plywood. I marked a centerline on the jig and on the legs so
I would have something to register to when loading the jig. Then I made the cut
but half way through the cut I realized I was going to cut into the clamp so had
to shut the saw down, wait for it to stop before removing the jig to adjust the
clamps. Total rookie move! I got my jig reset and cut the tapers on
the front and back of the legs. Then cut the tapers on the sides of the legs.
I had to readjust the clamps to hold against a front taper while I cut the
taper on the sides. son of a………… while the table saw blade
winds down so I can move the clamp out of the way, let’s talk about paint. As a
woodworker I hate anything that is not the natural color of wood. I think this
thing would have looked awesome in some lace wood or a zebra wood but the client
was a fan of the Smurfs cartoon growing up so I painted it Smurfs blue for her.
To prep the paint for the gun I used an additive called floetrol. It thins the
paint so it’ll go through the gun but also extends the dry time of the paint
so it will level out and create a smoother finish. I did a crosshatch
pattern when painting to ensure a good coverage. Since it’ll be hard to balance
the thin legs on the clamps I cut a piece of plywood to use as a platform to
clamp against. I used epoxy for the glue up to give me plenty of working
time and to get all the legs lined up in the during installation. I did a quick double check to be sure
the legs are all lined up and then glued the top on. When putting the top on, it
took my time to be sure I wouldn’t smear glue all over the underside. Another quick check of the legs to be sure
they were lined up before clamping it all up. Then to prevent scuffing the
paint I draped a towel over the table and then tighten down the clamps

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