Posts Tagged With: Thorsen Table

The hard part is done…

Ya know, saying “it’s all downhill from here” is probably something that a guy should never say.  Like saying “traffic is really light today”, it invites a giant pile up and hours of delay.  But, there, I already said it.

Cutting the pierced details on the table skirts was stressful.  Overall I did a pretty good good job, but it’s amazing how your eye can pick out the tinniest little irregularity.  I sawed “right on the line” when cutting these, but that meant that in come places I was just leaving the line and at the other end of the spectrum I was just erasing the line.  That is a variance of .010″ to .015″ (about 1/64″), but it’s obvious to my eye. (and even with contacts my vision is still a little dicey).

So I did the best I could, and I’ll clean them up with a file and sandpaper and call it good enough.

First I sawed out the detail to match the first, more complex design.

Two skirts done, no cleanup on the piercing yet

Two skirts done, no cleanup on the piercing yet

Then I printed out the other two templates.  I used the same approach of laying down blue tape first, then using spray adhesive to affix the the template.  This works well, the whole mess peels off easily.  I did a sample piece with just the template and spray adhesive and even after washing with acetone and scraping the wood is still gummy.  I marked the locations for the end-drill reliefs, drilled the holes and was ready to roll.

Patterns glued down for the other two skirts

Patterns glued down for the other two skirts

I expected these to be easier to saw out — and they were — but straight lines really seem to show off any irregularities much worse than curves.  I sawed them and didn’t fret (no pun intended) about undulations.  Then I told them to the bench and did some hand work to try to true the cuts.  I’ll probably do a little more fine tuning on the sawn reliefs when I go out in the shop this morning and look at them with fresh eyes, but I think these are close to being close enough.  Maybe.  What do you think?

After I deal with the cloud lift detail along the bottom I’ll sand the faces of the skirts and break the edges of the pierced areas, which will soften things up a bit.

Nearly (?) complete skirt piercings

Nearly (?) complete skirt piercings

I did a quick dry fit to see how things are looking, I think this is going to be nice when it’s finished.

Dry fit assembly of the table

Dry fit assembly of the table (yes, one stretcher is backwards)

Next, cloud lift detail on the skirts, water fall detail on the legs, rounding all of the edges and sanding.  Once I get the base glued up I can make the table top with the breadboard ends and fit the lower shelf.  Hopefully it won’t be too hot today to keep working.

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Ruining the skirts (NOT!)

Yesterday wasn’t terribly productive in terms of how much I got done, perhaps just slightly ahead of “watching paint dry”, but I’m happy with how things are coming out.  It was about 85 degrees outside, and my wood shop feels like it’s ten degrees hotter than outside.  It’s weird, because the other building where I have my metalworking junk is probably 10 degrees cooler than outside.  Maybe I should only do metalwork in the summer…

I decided to do a little more scroll saw practice, but after a couple of cuts I decided that I was good enough on the shallow curves, and that the tight curves were too unpredictable.  The really tight turns also seemed to show up mistakes more, and if I got off the mark it was harder to correct.  So I did the only reasonable thing — I changed my design to avoid the tight turns.

Not by much, mind you.  I just changed the radius on the really tight turns to be a standard fractional drill size so I could drill out the ends and concentrate on connecting the lines in between.  I had to scale up the piercing a bit to make it look right, but I think it’s good.  I printed out my templates, and headed out to the shop.  Here’s how it went down:

First, I laid down blue tape on the wood.  I discovered that the “Super 77” spray adhesive I’m using is just too sticky and it makes a mess getting it off of the wood.  This way the pattern sticks to the tape instead and the whole mess just peels right off when I’m done.

Lay down blue tape to prevent the spray adhesive from gumming up the wood.  Strike a center line on the part.

Lay down blue tape to prevent the spray adhesive from gumming up the wood. Strike a center line on the part.

You can just see the centerline I laid out on the tape, I carried this over the top edge of the wood so I could use it to align the pattern with a “tape hinge”.

Pattern lined up on the center mark and hinged with more blue tape

Pattern lined up on the center mark and hinged with more blue tape

I included center marks on the new pattern so I could accurately drop in the drill locations.  This is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Pattern glued down, hole locations centers marked with an awl

Pattern glued down, hole locations centers marked with an awl

Then I drilled the holes for the ends of the design elements.  For the “Star Trek Communicator” shapes I just drilled a 1/8″ pilot hole, far enough away from the line so I could nibble away the waste and start exactly on the line.  I thought about dropping in a tangent circle at the tightest point in the arc for another drill but decided I could cut that without panicking.  I think I will do that for the other skirt though.

Holes drilled to create the end arcs in the design.  I used fresh brad point bits with a backer board to prevent splintering on the reverse side.

Holes drilled to create the end arcs in the design. I used fresh brad point bits with a backer board to prevent splintering on the reverse side.

I’m using a “#5 Flying Dutchman Ultra Reverse” blade, high enough blade tension that the blade makes a nice high pitched “twang” when plucked and a relatively low blade speed — maybe 1/3 of the maximum speed.  I’m also wearing a #5 Optivisor so I can see the line and going relatively slowly, maybe half the speed I could theoretically push the board through the saw.  Seems to work.

Initial shapes cut out

Initial shapes cut out

End shapes cut

End shapes cut

The cuts aren’t perfect but they aren’t far off either.  There are a couple of little burs where I transitioned between the drilled holes and the sawn areas, but they are all undercuts (e.g. I left a little extra material instead of cutting outside of the line, or over cutting).  There are a couple of little undulations as I sawed slightly to one side of the line — I tried to split the line, or cut to the inside of it, but this difference is just barely visible.  I can clean all of this up with just a little sanding.

One skirt done, three more to do

One skirt done, three more to do

I’ll see if I can get an hour in the shop tonight and saw the matching skirt like this one.  I already updated the pattern for the other skirt to add the tangent holes for the ends of the design.  That design is significantly simpler too, it should be less challenging to cut.  A little file and sandpaper should smooth out the piercings nicely, then I need to figure out how to round over the edges.  I can do it with sandpaper I know — and probably will, as I want sort of an organic rounded shape anyway.

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Practicing using a scroll saw

I never imagined I’d own a scroll saw, much less find myself watching videos about “scrolling” and practicing with a scroll saw.  But that’s what I’ve been up to today.

Whaaaat?

Original Thorsen Plant Stand

Original Thorsen Plant Stand

Yeah, the next step on the little Thorsen table is to cut out these abstract designs in the skirts.  I don’t know how the Halls did it, but my thought was to use the scroll saw I got when I was making the Gamble Inglenook sconce.  I learned that sawing accurately on a scroll saw isn’t as easy as I’d hoped.  On the sconces it was mostly straight lines, I sawed as best I could then spent a lot of time cleaning up the piercings with sandpaper stuck to a piece of sheet metal to make a thin file (of sorts).

Piercing for the Inglenook Sconce

Piercing (pattern) for the Inglenook Sconce

My concern of course is that any little screw up in the piercing is going to show up like a nose wart on a beauty queen.  If I can cut them accurately the sawn edge won’t need much attention to be “finished”.  If it’s wavy and over cut, all of the sanding in the world won’t help.

I found a close up view of the piercing in the “taboret” from the Thorsen house, which has the same design.  Take a look at how nice those shapes are.

Taboret detail from the Thorsen house.  A little wider and 3.75" shorter than the "plant stand".

Taboret detail from the Thorsen house. A little wider and 3.75″ shorter than the “plant stand”.

So, what else could I do but spend some time practicing.  I’ll give away the surprise ending: I still need more practice.

I started by watching a couple of YouTube videos on scroll saw techniques.  This one seemed to have most of ht basics:

I downloaded the practice  pattern and headed out to the shop where I glued it to a scrap of 1/4″ pine, fit a blade in the saw and proceeded to embarrass myself.

Practice pattern glued to some pine

Practice pattern glued to some pine

The straight lines aren’t too bad.  That is to say, I didn’t totally screw those up.  The right angle turns are going to take some more practice, although I can do “ok” on those.  Curves, those are going to take a lot more work before I’m comfortable with them.  I did all of the practice elements, then decided I was tired of practicing and wanted to do the real project.  Luckily I didn’t give in to that impulse.

Practice circle

Practice circle

Instead I decided to practice on the same type of wood (Sapele) in the same thickness (3/4″) as the skirts.  I glued a pattern to the wood and drilled access holes for the blade.

Sample pattern

Sample pattern

I fitted a fresh “Flying Dutchman Ultra Reverse #5” blade, set the tension, slowed the speed way down, and went to town.  The results?  Not horrible, but no where near good enough for the table.  The long arcs are OK, the tight turns on the ends are tricky, you have to rotate the piece a lot factor than you would imagine.  The moon lander shaped arc on the end detail came out pretty sloppy in particular.

One word: MEH.  Almost, but no cigar.

One word: MEH. Almost, but no cigar.

The finish from the cut is very nice, if the cut is fair then it probably won’t need any sanding.  I tried some scroll saw sanding files to try to smooth out some of the undulations.  It helps, but the files are kind of a joke.  Using light pressure it would take several files to get the job done, and they really only work well on gradual curves.  They are marginal on tight turns, and useless on tight areas.  A spindle sander with a tiny drum might work in some areas, but I don’t have one of those.

I want to get this figured out though, I can see being able to cut accurately with this saw being a real asset for some of the furniture that I want to make.  Eventually I want to try doing “Greene & Greene style inlay” or Bolection Inlay.  More practice tomorrow.

Some detail sanding done, but this is certainly not going to fly (except into the kindling pile)

Some detail sanding done, but this is certainly not going to fly (except into the kindling pile)

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Time to start on the details…

All the skirts, legs and stretchers are cooperating nicely. Next I will do the details on the skirts.

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Table Tenon Trimming

I got exactly half of my tenons trimmed.  Since both my band saw and my only carcass saw are DOA that made me stop and think about my options.  I have to saw away a little over half the width of the tenon, then tune it up with a plane so it fits properly.  I used my scroll saw on these, which worked OK.  Probably a good warmup for doing the piercing, but it’s like using a pair of tweezers to put your shoes away — it’s just not the right tool.  As I think about the other tools I could use to do this it makes me realize how easy it is to get locked into one way of doing a job.

Regardless, I got the tenons on two skirts and two stretchers trimmed up.  I’ll get the others today, and then move on to the details that make this table special.  Probably the piercing next, then the waterfall legs.  Need to start the top too.

I’m happy with the fit of the tenons.  They slide home with firm pressure and a light tap or two from the mallet, and the shoulders close up almost perfectly.  They do look a little plain at this stage, but that is about to change.

Two sides of the table dry-fit

Two sides of the table dry-fit

 

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Tiny progress on the tiny table

I managed to squeeze in a bit of shop time yesterday and got a the joinery on the Thorsen table mostly done.  I say mostly because there are some hand work details to finish up.  I finished making all of the mortises, the ones for the tenons were already done, I just had to finish off the ones for the ebony plugs.  There are 24 ebony plugs in the legs, and another 16 in the top, in three different sizes (3/8, 5/16 & 1/4).

Mortises and holes for the ebony plugs all done

Mortises and holes for the ebony plugs all done

I also roughed in the tenons on the stretchers and skirts.  On the skirts I need to cut the offsets – the tenons on one side are only at the top of the skirt, and on the adjacent sides at the bottom.  The tenons on the stretchers need to be trimmed at a 45 degree angle on the ends because they aren’t offset like the skirts.  I also cut all of the tenons about .020″ oversized so I can hand plane each to fit it’s mortise.  I want to have a nice snug fit everywhere.

Tenons on the stretchers, the recess for the lower shelf is also done.

Tenons on the stretchers, the recess for the lower shelf is also done.

Tenons on the skirts, these need to be shortened as the actual tenons are only 2.25" tall, and are offset between adjacent sides.

Tenons on the skirts, these need to be shortened as the actual tenons are only 2.25″ tall, and are offset between adjacent sides.

My next job is to do the handwork to fit the tenons properly and hand plane all of the surfaces smooth.  Then I need to see about all of the details — the waterfall step in the bottoms of the legs, the lift detail in the bottoms of the skirts and the piercing in the skirts.  I need to also glue up some stock for the top and the shelf.

Bandsaw Woes

In other news, you may remember last weekend that my bandsaw was giving me trouble.  The magnetic starter for the motor was cutting out after running for a short while.  I had this happen at higher speeds before when friction cutting steel on the saw.  My suspicion is that the breaker built into this is just getting old.  The saw is close to 75 years old, being made around 1940-45.  I’m not that old, and I feel like cutting out after running for a short while too.

Anyway, I found a used replacement part on ebay and bought it.  Hopefully this is the problem and it isn’t something actually drawing too much current (like the 7.5 hp 3 phase main motor boing out).

Suspect motor starter in my DoAll

Suspect motor starter in my DoAll

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Thorsen Table with Waterfall Legs

I was curious how the Thorsen table (ok, plant stand) would look with the waterfall legs.  I haven’t researched this extensively, but in one of Darrell Peart’s books he mentions that this was a detail first used on the Gamble furniture.  Each step in the waterfall is 1/8″, so I’m stepping from 1 1/4″ down to 1″ in total.  I like it, I’m going to build it this way.

I ran into a weird problem with SolidWorks where the high resolution render will use a different material than what I have in the model — in this case it ends up with this weird, blotchy, swirly grain.  I’ve run into this before and the only way to fix it is to remove all of the materials from the model and then replace them.  So I just grabbed a screen shot of the model instead.

CAD model updated with waterfall legs

CAD model updated with waterfall legs

I also updated the plans with the leg detail, and added in the ebony pegs on the legs where the stretchers meet that I had missed.  I noticed that I omitted the overall length for the leg, I’ll have to correct that later, but it’s 21.5″ long.

Updated Plans

Updated Plans

I didn’t model every detail, in the original pieces I’ve seen all of the edges are eased — rounded or softened in some way.  In the photograph of the original table that John provided a link to take a look at the ends of the breadboard caps on the top.  They are almost “pillowed”.  The edges of the piercings on the skirts are subtly rounded too.  In a lot of G&G reproductions I see on the web this kind of detail is missing, and it’s pretty simple to do.  Another thing that’s interesting about the original is that the color of the lower shelf is significantly different from the rest of the piece.  I don’t know if that’s original or intentional.  The caption on the archive site says that the table is “Teak and Mahogany”, so I’m guessing it’s a difference in woods and it’s intentional, and the table itself is teak while the shelf is Mahogany.  Anyone know for sure?

Original Thorsen Plant Stand

Original Thorsen Plant Stand

 

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Made a good start…

On the new Thorsen side table, that is.  Nothing particularly clever here, just straightforward machine work.

I rough cut the Sapele for the skirts, stretchers and legs.  It’s all oversized at this point of course, I was just breaking it down.  I cut an extra leg, extra skirt and several extra stretchers in case I screw something up.  And I immediately screwed up one of the legs.  *score*

Wood for the legs, stretchers and skirts rough cut.

Wood for the legs, stretchers and skirts rough cut.

I processed everything, and got all the parts cut to size.  It’s good to know I could do the dimensioning by hand, but I have to say it would take me days to get this stuff ready by hand.  Plus it gets really hot in the shop, at least 15 degrees hotter than outside, even with the doors open and a fan running.  I’ll use my #4 LN to smooth all of these before I sand and assemble the table.

Parts milled to final size and length.

Parts milled to final size and length.  In the background is a stained glass “peacock feather” sun catchermy son is doing.

I should have gotten a little further along, but I was hot and took a break for a couple of hours to finish a novel I was reading.  I went back out and did the mortises and started making the holes for the ebony plugs.  I’ll do the tenons on the skirts and stretchers next, then work out the details on the cloud lifts and piercing on the skirts, waterfall steps on the legs and various other things that chew up time.

Mortises done

Mortises done

This should be a fun project, and I can probably finish it and the cabinet at the same time.  I’m asking around for someone who can make a house call on my DoAll bandsaw, I need to get that repaired — I can’t stand tools that don’t work.

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New Project: Thorsen Side Table

Yesterday I planned to make the metal framework to hold the stained glass for the little Greene & Greene styled cabinet I’m making.  I got the strops of copper fit into the door opening, and scribed the trim lines, but when I went to cut them my trusty Do All bandsaw died.  I think it’s the magnetic starter overheating, but it’s just a guess.  I’m not looking forward to having a 70 year old bandsaw that weighs 3,500 pounds repaired.  Crud.

So I retreated to my computer.  I’ve wanted to make this little Thorsen House side table for a while, and I might actually have enough wood to pull it off.  Maybe.  If I could re-saw some of the 8/4 stock I’m sure I have enough, but my bandsaw is down.  Grumble, grumble.

Anyway, the table.  As I understand it, this was actually designed to be a plant stand and the SketchUp model from Bob Lang shows the major dimensions to be about 21″ tall with a top about 14″ square.  There were plans in Popular Woodworking that were slightly scaled up, about an inch taller and a top that was 17″ square.  I like the larger size for where I’m going to put this, but I didn’t like the details in the Popular Woodworking version.  I decided to model my take on it, mostly because I wanted patterns for those weird cutouts in the aprons.

CAD Model for the new project

CAD Model for the new project

I picked up most of the major dimensions form the Popular Woodworking version, but interpolated the details from Bob Lang’s model.  His, I believe, is closer to the original both in details and scale.  I’m tempted to try using the “waterfall step” leg detail instead of the more-correct taper on the legs.  I should probably add ebony pegs at the joint with the stretcher too.

Waterfall Leg Detail

Waterfall Leg Detail – should I use this instead?

The construction follows Bob’s design, with offset tenons.  I’m a little concerned about the skirts staying flat, but the single wide tenons on the Pop Wood version seem like it would badly weaken the legs and cause cross-grain wood movement problems.  Who knows?  The big concern in building this is the fit of the lower shelf around the legs.  I’m a little concerned about the breadboard ends too.  The layout of the ebony pegs doesn’t lend itself to hiding screws in slotted holed to allow for movement, so I’m limited to glueing in the middle and hoping it all stays together.  One step at a time though.

Exploded view to chow construction

Exploded view to chow construction

The main point of modeling this myself was to end up with a set of full scale templates for the cut outs that I can use to make patterns.  A secondary benefit was to get a good feel for the construction of the table and get my thoughts organized to build it.  I made a set of plans that you can download if you want to build it — or if you are looking for full scale templates like me.  There should be enough details here to build the table if you’re so inclined.  I didn’t put as many details into these as I might otherwise, but all of the parts and critical measurements are there.

Things to pay attention to if you do build this:  The legs aren’t all the same due to the asymmetrical mortises and ebony plugs.  The dimensions cover where everything goes, plan on being careful with this part of the layout.  The taper on the bottom of the legs is laid out to taper from 1/4″ at the bottom to zero at 5 3/16″ up.  The legs are milled 1 1/4″ square, so I’d lay out by striking a mark 1″ from the outside faces, another 5.1875″ from the bottom on the inside faces, and then connect those.  Once the taper is cut, go ahera and round over the end of the leg and sides.

My next step is to make a cup of coffee and go measure up my wood stock to see if I have enough to at least make a good start on this project.  If I have enough wood to make this it will end up in the same room as the cabinet, which is the next room in the house I want to “make over” anyway.  I’ll probably be in Big Trouble for starting another project before the bookcase for my wife though.

Download plans for the Thorsen House Table

Download plans for the Thorsen House Table

 

 

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