I have been making furniture for myself and others for many years.I’ve made chairs, tables, CD storage units, shelves, entire bedroom sets and multiple entertainment centers.For me, the design phase is the most fun.Designing form to fit function and then choosing the materials based on customer preferences is second only to that moment when the project is completed and the end result realizes the design concept.Sanding is the least fun (except for when you injure yourself on a sharp tool.)
This coffee table is the result of a challenge.I have a great friend who found this hand-carved mahogany panel – in fact he found two of them – and he challenged me to see who could be the first to find something to do with it other than simply hanging it on a wall.
At the time, I was teaching him the rudiments of woodworking and we were in the process of building a craftsman style coffee table.I was using his plans and building my own table at home in order to stay about a week ahead of him so that I could determine where he would have problems and what new techniques he would have to master.
Without his knowledge, I modified the table plans for my project to incorporate the panel as the center of my table – covered with a ¼” plate of glass. The finished table is 47" long by 27" wide by 18" high and it is a combination of 8/4 Bubinga and Padauk with the carved Mahogany inlay.
When he finished his table, it was quite impressive – and still in use in his living room today.I invited him over to see my final product and he was quite surprised to see that I had built the panel into my coffee table.
To the best of my knowledge, his panel is still sitting on a shelf in his shop.
I have always been intrigued by Japanese Shoji Silk screens.I read an article in a woodworking magazine that described the process in some detail and offered sources for a variety of traditional silk papers.After a bit more research, I decided to try my hand at silk screens and this is what I came up with for my first project. This is one of the two shoji lamps I made for myself.
They are roughly 12" by 12" by 20" high and fit very nicely on the nightstands.
They both have very bright fluorescent bulbs that are fine for reading in bed.
The wiring is completely hidden inside the wood.
The drawer is a handy place for baby boomers to put their false teeth ;-)
This is a cabinet I recently completed for myself.I was reading a magazine in an airport when I ran across an article about fancy hardwood floors.The particular picture that caught my eye was one of a Maple hardwood floor which incorporated a Walnut “French Knot” design.After staring at the photo for a while, I decided to try to do the same thing in a cabinet top.I had some beautiful Flame Maple and Bird’s Eye in the shop and I basically determined the cabinet size by what I had available.It turned out to be a very nice size to serve as a liquor cabinet. Since I used the Japanese "Shoji screen" technique to create the doors, I decided to call this "Liquor Cabinet with Screen Doors." The top is Flame Maple with a Bird's Eye Maple frame and accents inside the Bubinga "French Knot" design. The top alone consists of 117 separate pieces of wood. The legs are Flame Maple and Bubinga. The panel frames are Flame Maple. The sides are bookmatched panels of Flame Maple. The door frames are Bird's Eye Maple. The doors use a Bubinga pattern which mimics the French Knot design from the top and I used two different Shoji papers to mimic the wood patterns in the top. All of the frames are highlighted with Walnut dowels in the corners. The internal shelf is free-standing so it can be removed as required if you decide to change the function of the cabinet. The top is protected from curious cats and sloppy drinkers with a 3/8" sheet of polished glass. There are two halogen lights mounted on the underside of the top which turn on when you open the doors in order to help you identify and locate your poison of choice.
Altogether, there are 197 pieces of wood in this thing...and a lot of glue...
I have built a number of entertainment centers for myself and friends over the years.As the technology changes, the audio and video equipment continually change their form factors.I have a ridiculous number of A/V components in my “home theater” setup, but I also have unlimited freedom in designing whatever houses them.
I recently retired my VCR collection in favor of digital video recorders and switched over to Hi-Definition components.In doing so, I also retired some antiques like a tape deck and a mini-disk player since I was now able to stream all of my audio directly from my server to the receiver wirelessly.
I needed to create a new cabinet that was lower and wider than the old one to hold all of the new equipment and also incorporate the center channel speaker that used to hang off the wall “sort of” over the TV.After a few hours of thought, I came up with this design which has room for expansion and a drawer to hide crud that used to live on the coffee table.
The cabinet is made of solid Walnut framing and trim with Walnut plywood panels and shelves.It glides smoothly on eight wheels hidden in the base.It is 60” wide by 22” deep by 26” high.The drawer on the right side has a full extension 20” slide and it is 6” deep to hold blank DVD’s manuals, spare remotes, etc.
I bought a beautiful leather couch to put in my Library/Guest room.It folds out to be a full size queen bed that is extremely comfortable.It’s also quite comfortable as a couch and a nice place to sit and read a book.
That said, I really needed an end table to go with the couch to hold a reading lamp or an alarm clock/phone/box of tissues etc.Being lazy and in a hurry, I looked at a number of stores for said table.The problem was that the couch is actually quite deep and also quite low.I found most commercial end tables to be too high, and most of them are square – so to get the length I needed, they became too wide to fit the space I had available.
This piece is the result of my frustrated search.The body frame is Mahogany with alternating cross slats of Padauk and Mahogany.The top is capped with an edge-polished piece of ½” glass and the lower shelf is ¼” glass.
The finished dimensions are 28" long by 21" wide by 21" high. It fits the couch and the available space perfectly, offers plenty of surface area and only took three days from design to installation.
This was a silly little project with an important purpose.I had a dog.She got old.She couldn’t jump onto the bed at night anymore and she made me nervous when she attempted to jump off of the bed in the morning.I had seen “pet stairs” in catalogs, but I was looking for something more subtle (and useful).
This is a bookshelf/staircase designed to fit at the end of my bed and it provides two foot long by 1 foot wide “steps” that are only 12” high instead of having to jump 26” onto (or off of) the bed.It is a simple design executed in pine and (oops!) admittedly stained to blend with the footboard of the bed.The tops of the “steps” are covered with a rubber mat for traction. It took me two days to make this - most of the time spent waiting for things to dry - and it took her all of about five minutes to get comfortable with going up and down the stairs.
My wonderful dog is gone, but my eleven year old cat who has lost a bit of her spring is now quite happy to have the stairs and uses them to go up and down instead of jumping.
This is a variation on the entertainment center that was custom built for a client and good friend.
The cabinet is made from panels that are solid Rock Maple.The doors are raised panels in frames mounted on “flip and fold” track hinges to allow them to be out of the way when watching TV or using the stereo.
The design was developed around his current components (and wall space) and allows for future changes through the use of adjustable shelving. I added the odd-looking support shelf the TV sits on because while they currently have a small (antiquated) tube TV, if you pull out the support shelf, the interior space will easily accommodate a 42” widescreen HD flat panel TV.
The drawer has full extension slides and holds CD’s, DVD’s and random remote controls.
While I tried to talk them out of it, my clients were adamant that the piece be stained to match their other furniture, so this piece was tinted "Early American" before finishing with hand rubbed polyurethane. The unit has a finished white birch ply back panel tinted to match the Maple so it may be used as either a room divider or placed against a wall.
The custom trim on the bottom was duplicated from the pattern on the bottoms of several other pieces in the same room.
I replaced my deck this past Spring. Redwood is a wonderful deck material for resisting bugs, but it does have a tendency to rot out over time. After replacing several boards in the past few years, I noticed that the bulk of the original wood was rapidly turning to dangerous footing. Another factor was that the original deck, while 20' long, was only 8' wide. That left no room for a standard size table.
After replacing the entire mess with a bigger, sturdier deck, I went in search of the "perfect" table and a couple of comfortable chairs to complete the project. I found a table made of squares of multi-colored slate that quickly moved to the top of my list, but it was extremely expensive. After a bit of investigating and redesign, I was able to construct my own table for 1/3 of the cost. It's not going to blow over in the wind - it weighs in at about 300 pounds...
The table top is constructed with a 1" marine plywood base, hardy board for the tile base and Ipe wood for the trim rail around the outside. The finished dimensions are pretty standard for a full size deck table at 84" x 42" and 29" high.
I went to my local tile store and looked at their collection of slate, but I was not happy with the textures or the colors available.
What I ultimately selected was polished quartzite. I used 12" tiles in a variety of colors which I cut into 5" squares for the center and 2" strips for the edges with the help of a wet saw rented from Home Depot. The cutting only took a few hours and created very little waste.
I mudded the table top and set the tiles with 1/8" spacers. I finished the top with black exterior grout and used a silicone caulk that matches the grout around the edges where the tile meets the wood.
The tiles were sealed with a slate/granite sealer and the wood is sealed with a product that is made for Ipe.
I did drill a hole in the center of the table for an umbrella with a diamond hole saw for the tile and a standard hole saw for the table frame.
The top frame was built in the shop, but the tiling was done on the deck because I really didn't want to move the table after adding all of that weight. As it turns out, the table base has "sliders" on the bottom of its feet which makes the table quite manageable when I need to move it on the deck.
Overall, I actually think that this table is prettier than the one that inspired the project - and a lot cheaper.
I had also purchased a few tiles of marble which I had intended to use as an accent stripe through the table squares. I decided that I didn't want the stripe after slicing most of the marble into 2" strips. I was left with a few tiles intact and more Ipe than I had expected, so I decided to make a side table to complement both the new table and the new rocking chairs I was adding to the deck.
I built the table with 4/4 Ipe, making six identical "legs" to allow me to make a tripod table with tripod support for the top as well.
I went with a tripod design to allow the table to be stable and stationary no matter where it sits on the deck.
The top was constructed by joining four pieces of Ipe and then routing it to the circular shape of the top. The center hole is rabbeted to give the tile a 1" support lip.
The tile is "grouted" in place with the same silicone product I used on the big table.
The Maple dowels around the edge of the table are both decorative and structural.
So far, the Texas sun and heat has not caused any problems with either table - other than the requirement to re-apply the sealers to the stone and wood every six months.
These pieces are a problem. They are furniture. They are boxes. They are also routed pieces. I decided to put them here since they are primarily furniture pieces. Nuff said.
I recently read an article in Fine Woodworking by a guy who makes these "carved" panels for use as cabinet doors using a router technique he has developed.
If you run the router twice from opposite sides on one face of the panel, you get a sort of Moiré pattern, but it's still solid. If you run the router on one side and then flip it and run the same pattern on the back side, you get holes.
I decided to try his technique with a variety of bits as well as combinations of bits. Since I didn't want to waste the wood, I incorporated the four panels I created into a "crate" that was sized to hold my newspapers waiting for recycling pickup, or it would look quite nice if I used it as an upscale holder for the crappy wicker basket where the silk plant in my living room currently resides.
The overall dimensions are 15"x15"x15" and the wood is Roasted Birch with a natural finish (please pardon the fingerprints in the photos)
Thought you might find my experiment amusing.
When all was said and done, I decided that the piece was too nice to end up as a "waste basket." I created a base for the crate that incorporated feet and added an oversized piece of tempered glass and it became a side table for the easy chair in the livingroom. I just need to find something curious to put inside the crate...
So, after my experiments, I determined that the 3/4" rounded bit removes 72% of the starting wood. By combining that bit with a bit that rounds over the edges at the panel surface, we're up to 78% of the wood being removed. Very pretty, but not very structural. It would be fine for a cabinet door where the frame gives it strength and there is no direct pressure placed on the panel. Sorry, but I am an engineer...
I wanted to do something interesting with this technique, so I started thinking and came up with a modified technique. The original setup was to rout the panels by cutting each line on a 1" increment in the cut radius. I took a piece of MDF board and tried the process using a 2" incremental cut radius. What I got was the cut shape I wanted with a nice wide spine between the cuts - and it only removed 30% of the original material.
I gathered up a whole lot of "scraps" in my wood stock and eventually selected 31 pieces of wood covering 11 different species that were big enough to allow me to create a 3/4" thick panel. I sanded the pieces to uniform thicknesses in pairs (and one triple), laid them out in a symmetrical pattern, and glued the whole mess into one big "slab-o-wood." After sanding the glued mess and trimming the ends, I had a panel that was 28" long by 18" wide.
I routed the panel with my favorite bit combination on 2" centers. Nice panel. Lots of colors. Eons of sanding.
I felt that the panel was strong enough to survive most wear and tear, so it became the centerpiece of a project to display it, but also to have some practical use.
The pictures below are the final outcome of the router experiment that I am calling the "Blanket Chest."
The wood for all of the frames, the feet and the bottom of the box is Roasted Birch. The side panels are American Walnut. The finish is a clear polyurethane. The top is mounted with torsion hinges which allow the top to be set in any position without slamming shut on fingers. I was originally going to install a "pull" on the top to make it easy to open, but the holes in panel provide a comfortable and convenient place to grab and lift.
The top easily supports a 27 pound test weight (kitty litter bucket), but I wouldn't want someone my size parking their butt in the center of the panel. I did intentionally sit on the front corners without problems.
The overall dimensions of the chest are 34" long by 23" deep by 18" high. The inside dimensions are 32 1/2" by 21 1/2" by 14" deep.
It sits quite nicely at the end of the bed in the front guest room.