I decided to make another version of the Girder Fork table. This one has solid “forks” which simplify the joinery and offer new design opportunities. I left a void at the top of the leg to lighten the mass and to give a subtle outside “curve.” It is interesting how the shape changes as you walk around the table or spy it from different parts of the room.
I also changed the apron for this table, that is, it runs the full length of the table. It gives the piece a timeless more familiar feeling.
Lastly I made a new top for the original Girder Fork table, with an asymmetrical arrangement of the boards.
So, I had an idea for a leg design inspired by motorcycle girder-forks (yeah, I know this bike doesn’t have them). I was also thinking about the work of Carlo Mollino, a 20th century furniture designer. The leg could be used on tables, case pieces and chairs. The idea wasn’t to mimic the forks exactly but more to subtly tap into the industrial strength of the shapes.
I liked the simplicity and efficiency of the design, but couldn’t resist the temptation to use more traditional joinery. This made for some tricky mitered mortise and tenon joints. I made full scale model of the leg in poplar first to see how to it would work, and look.
I had some large planks of sepele which would yield a 3 foot by 9 foot table. The planks were 18 inches wide and I wanted to show that so I joined them together with bread-board ends. I used the space between the boards as a design feature and aligned the aprons to allow light through. Placing the aprons in the center also keeps them from hitting your knees.
I hand planed the top and left the faceted marks from the planes for a more lively hewn surface. It just seems warmer and friendlier. The finish is linseed oil and shellac.
It’s hard to photograph this table in our little gallery. I really like the stance and angles down bellow.
I don’t mind mixing styles, good design is good design.
I start each piece by cutting parts out of boards, or some times one board. It’s a stressful time in the process of making furniture. I have a limited amount of material and have to make the best decisions regarding grain and figure. I’ll be working on these parts for a while and when it’s finished the parts will be that way forever.
Then there is a point where the parts start to take shape. The goal is to make each part like it was made of the same piece of wood. The grain should do the same thing in the same place on every leg, post or crest rail. It’s hard to do. You have to be sure the growth rings are facing the same way when cutting out the shapes. Things start to happen quickly at this stage.
This is my favorite time at the shop. Joints have already been cut and can be assembled. The board starts to come back together again and look as if it is completely natural. I’m no longer making smaller boards, I’m making arms, legs, feet!
Earlier this year I made this “Welsh dresser” for a person in Philadelphia. A Welsh dresser is kind of a catchall phrase here. It usually refers to any number of designs for kitchen storage, work, and display above and bellow. This design has a plate rack, three lockable drawers, two lockable doors and a center opening, sometimes called a kennel.
The monolithic piece is made of curly maple, a grain which causes the wood to shift color from dark to light depending on how the light is shining. Here it has been stained to a warm amber color. The effect is quite beautiful as the sun changes the light in the room throughout the day.
The lower section is a frame and panel construction with pegged mortise and tenon joints. The lipped drawers are made with hand cut half-blind dovetails . Hand carved tombstone panels liven up the doors. Grain and color of each board was carefully considered to give a unified facade. On top there are gently shaped shelves for plates and glasses. It is held together with hand cut dovetails and through wedged mortise and tenons. A carefully matched scalloped valance and crown molding top it all off.
This is a stool I had been wanting to make for a while. It is based on a stool possibly made in Philadelphia between 1680 and 1720. I just love the square structure and simplicity of the doric columns. The original piece is quite small so I scaled it up a bit for a more comfortable seating height.
I upholstered them with jute webbing, burlap, horse hair stuffing and muslin. they need a layer of cotton batting when the fabric goes on. I think a solid color would be best, maybe velvet? maybe tacks?
Once I began making the parts for the stool, I realized how great it would be to make a set. They could be used a number of ways and they don’t take up much space. Arrange them in a square and they become a coffee table, though they could still be used for seating during parties (or for tying your kids shoes). They can be used as a window seat or set up in tetris shapes as room dividers.
I had a lot of fun making the columns. I lined them up in group of 18. It was cool how light and shadows changed inside as you move around. It would make a great lamp base.
The stool’s legs and stretchers are made of walnut and the rails are made of ash. It is held together with pegged mortise and tenon joints. There are sixteen joints in each stool.
They can be used around a table, like this one or something more modern. This is a curly maple tea table based on examples made by John Townsend in Newport, Rhode Island c.1760-1790.
I made a double seat one too!
This is a twin size, low post, ball & claw foot bed, based on a bed from Philadelphia circa 1750-1760. It is made of maple with ash slats. The legs are cut from boards four inches thick. The legs are then turned on the lathe to make the ball on top of the post. It’s something to see. The ankle of the leg seems to disappear as it spins.
These are legs for a tall post bed showing the mortise and tenon joints and the holes for bed bolts. This makes for an incredibly strong joint, so strong they are sometimes used on work benches. This makes it possible to dis-assemble the bed easily for moving.
The bolt holes are covered with…. bolt hole covers. I like to use futons from White Lotus with my beds. You can fluff them up and you will never feel a metal spring in your back. The ash slats can be planed down to make them more springy if desired.