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Woodworking: Fine Maple Furniture
These are the first pieces of furniture I have ever made (except a rickety shelving system I made when I was about 12 -Best forgotten about). They are special in that the wood they are made from grew in our back garden. When we moved into our new home, there was a 100'+ tall maple tree leaning over the house. I decided that, although it was healthy, it was dangerous to leave it standing. It seemed a shame to cut it all up for firewood. As a result the main trunk was milled and air dried. When the wood was dry, I began the process of building a wood working shop. In the first 6 month I only managed to create sawdust. As I learned to work with wood (I had worked with metal, in manufacturing custom machinery in the past -This was very different) I created a design for a bedside table. This design became my fist project. The patterns you can see in the wood is referred to as 'figuring'.
The second project was a lot more ambitious. The blanket chest was created using a commercially available design. I did this because I had found a design I liked and I learned that I need more experience thinking in 3 dimensions before designing such a complex item.
The latest project is a chest of drawers. As I needed to complete this project relatively quickly I saved time by creating a carcass out of maple veneered ply wood. I then used my own maple to build the top, the moldings, drawer fronts and feet. I decided to make this piece quite different in look as well as construction. I used a walnut stain on some of the moldings and feet to enhance to look. The feet for this project are solid maple that was hand planed to create the curved profile.
I have completed a couple more small projects since my last posting. The first was a babies change table that I built for a friend. This project was straight forward. I did create it in such a way that it can be collapsed when not in use, or used on top of a counter top.
The second project has brought me to a new area of wood work, inlays. The bathroom cabinet doors have a walnut inlay that run around the outside of the doors. This worked really well, as I was able to plane the wood afterwords. This resulted in an excellent finished surface. I also decided to add some detail in the construction of the doors by using a walnut dovetail pins to lock the corners of the doors into place.
This is the last project that I will get to complete in my present workshop. It is a bench seat with a hinged seat for storage. It was built with a specific purpose for our bedroom. Unfortunately a few weeks before it was completed we found a new house and the original need for this piece may no longer exist. The seat is made entirely of the home grown maple (except for the chest base and back panel). The variation in color is due primarily to grain direction. Due to how well the walnut has worked with the maple in other pieces I used walnut to plug the screw holes in the side posts. Screws were used due to the complexity of assembly and size of the seat. The screws allowed me to glue the seat up in 2 steps as well as being able to do test assemblies.
So what have I done since we moved?† Iíve had no time to do any fine furniture.† The projects that Iíve done are more utilitarian in nature.† Media shelves for the family room entertainment center and bookcases for my sonís bedroom.† These pieces where all may from engineered pine board and designed to take a beating.† The main reason for not having the opportunity to tackle any new fine furniture projects is our new house was not as described in the advertisement.† Amongst other problems the basement turned into a swimming pool once a year (the previous owner and realtor did not think this was significant issue, so did not mention it!).† As a result I have had to turn my skill to construction projects.
We now have a very nice basement office and media room (at least itís wired for a media room although the hardware is yet to be installed).† When designing the new basement I wanted to make the best use of the available space.† The first step was to open it up in to one large room.† This meant we did not need to waste space with a hallway.† I also created 4 two foot openings in one wall that lead into the crawl space.† Two of these openings now house sliding bookcases.† One is a sliding media and computer cabinet and the last is a doorway for crawl space access.†
When designing the sliding bookcases I calculated that their weight could be up to Ĺ ton when full (always new computer books where heavy!).† The sliding bookcases therefore needed to be very strong and well anchored.† I was able to locate drawer sliders that can hold up to Ĺ ton weights and travelled the desired 4 foot.† As far as anchoring the bookcases was concerned, I ran vertical supports from the runner support beams to the ceiling.† This allows the house to act as a counter weight.
Now that the worst of the house issues have been dealt with hopefully Iíll get a chance to create some more unique fine furniture.