I know I said I would be finishing with the Barcelona Design Museum but there is just so much to process that I need to take a break from it until I figure out how to properly report on it. That and I am in week three of a cold I brought back from the Philippines. Oh, yeah, I was in the Philippines for about a week. I got per diem so it must have been for work. That’s the difference between a business trip and a vacation. If you get per diem, it’s a business trip. If you choose where you’re going, it’s a vacation. Something to be said for both.
Fortunately, the local better auction house has provided me with topics so plentiful that I should be able to enlighten and amuse you for quite a while. Eh?
First up is this American Hepplewhite Sideboard:
Description: Early 19th century, probably Mid Atlantic, mahogany, mahogany veneers, white pine and poplar secondary, concave central section with single drawer above two small cabinet doors, flanked by rounded corners, with cabinet doors, raised on square tapered legs. Size 38.5 x 64 x 23.5 in. (From the auction house.)
The curves were what caught my attention. There are many ways to bend or curve wood. We learned from a recent plantation visit that you can bend certain species by soaking them in a river for one year per inch of thickness to make the wood pliable. If you don’t have a convenient river, you can use steam for a more practical one hour per inch.
Then there is bent lamination in which thin layers of wood are glued and placed in a form of the desired shape. (Think freeform plywood.)
If you want to know about kerf bending, you can look it up.
If you can’t bend, you can always make it look bent or curved. There is the brute force method requiring a block of wood that is large enough to contain the curved part and cutting away the parts that fall outside the curves. This method leaves a lot of wood on the shop floor assuming, you can locate a block of wood that is large enough to contain the part. Then you need a saw (hand or powered) that is large enough to accommodate the blank.
A common variation is stacked lamination in which you do as above but one inch in height at a time. Start with a one-inch block of wood: work it to the desired contour. Glue another block atop it and contour to match. If you are into power tools, typically it’s a pattern router bit with bearing or a flush trim bit with bearing. And a router.
Repeat until you reach the desired height.
The downside of this technique is that, unless you like the striped look, you need to veneer it. Not a problem if veneering is where you are going. I can see some modern studio furniture using this technique unadorned.
Breadboard ends on the curved door provide stability and hide the end grain:
The center doors are also stacked laminations, just in the opposite direction. The interesting feature is how the gap between the doors is handled. Typically when doors meet, there is some device to minimize the gap between the doors, a rabbet, a molding or one door overlapping the other. On this server they used beveled edge. The doors do not meet with a 90° butt joint, they are angled:
I’ve seen this in other case pieces but this is the first time I’ve seen it used on curved doors.
No blog of mine can be considered complete without an examination of drawer construction. The veneer hides the truth but I believe the drawer front was cut from a thick block of wood:
The thickness of the drawer front does provide for some really interesting through dovetails:
As we saw in recent blog, the thick veneer allows the maker to use through dovetails instead of the fussy, annoying half-blind dovetails.