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A Modern Plant Stand

November 24th, 2009

Every project I start with begins 1 way… sketchup. The irony of me using this is free tool is I have a degree and certification in 3d modeling in Autodesk Maya (a high-end modeling and animation package used for movie production). But, for rapid modeling and design work it’s hard to beat the simplicity of Google Sketchup. (besides I’m WAY out of practice with my “pro” 3d tools)

This is my first “furniture” project out of hardwood and using traditional joinery. I started tinkering around with woodworking a little over a year ago and after a very intense first 6 months of learning and rehabbing old tools I managed to burn myself out.

Well fall is coming to an end and it was time to bring most of our herbs inside for the winter. (It’s impossible to beat fresh Basel, Sage, Oregano, & Rosemary). I decided at least one of the plants this winter would have a proper home and the best way to get back into woodworking was just get into the shop and start something.

I had a stack of 4/4 walnut and ash sitting around and I started this design thinking I would use that. After initial Sketchup design I decided that 4/4 wouldn’t be enough for legs and I didn’t want to do a glue-up with ash. I still wanted to use a contrasting wood so off to the hardwood dealer.

I found a nice 11′ 8/4 piece of cherry and having never worked with cherry I figured it would be a fun wood to play with.

My shop is pretty small and most of it is occupied by a workbench and a table-saw, so I take a very hybrid approach to woodworking. I start by breaking the stock down  into major chunks with a crosscut pull saw and then proceeding to square and flatten one side with a #5 & #7c hand plane.

I then take the half squared stock over to the table saw and rip it parallel to the jointed edge & in the case of the legs also ripped the other face parallel to the jointed face.

This process leaves me with jointed and squared stock  for the legs and a top ready for glewup. Once I glued the top up I again used the #5 & #7c to flatten the rough face and get it thicknessed properly. I have a power thickness planer but it’s just too much of a hassle to get out and set up for such a small project.

For joinery on this project I am using mortise and tenons for everything. Not having a power mortiser I utilize a drill press to clear out most of the wood and then switch to bench chisels to square up and clear out the mortise.

Once all my joinery was cut I glued up the project in 2 stages. I made 2 sub assemblies of the sides and glued them up using the top to dry fit them so that I would make sure my joinery was aligned properly.

I decided I would use a pinned through tenon on the bottom just because I thought it would look cool. The pins are made out of a ebony pen turning blank. I re-sawed them with my dovetail rip saw and shaped them on a couple of pieces of marble tile with sandpaper affixed to them. (my hand tool sharpening setup)

I smoothed all long-grain with a Type 2 Stanley #604 with a Hock blade (best investment you can make on an old smoothing plane). All end-grain was sanded to 220 grit.

I finished the project with a coat of Boiled Linseed oil. After it cures for a few days I’ll go back and apply a couple of coats of shellac and some past wax. Because this isn’t a constant use table It won’t need thick film coat on it but I do want to give it a bit more protection than just a coat of BLO will provide.

This took me about 16-18 hrs total over the course of 2 1/2 weeks. (mostly an hour or so every other night plus a few hours on each day on the weekends). Overall I’m pretty happy with it… There are a few mistake but I learned from all of them and only had to remake one piece.

The design turned out fairly good, in my opinion. The only part I’m critical of is the through tenon on the bottom stretcher extends way further than the top, so it can never be put into a corner, and the balance seems a bit off.

I like the look of the contrasting wood but I’ll have to not go too crazy with this contrasting wood thing or our house will end up looking very busy… 1-2 species of wood per room max.

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