Defects Are Hints For Something Better

In all the creative work I have done with live-edge material, I have always looked at a cut section – where a limb was removed or the material cut to length – as a shortcoming.

But recently, I had an epiphany.

Like so many of my revelations, this one came while experimenting on a piece of scrap wood worth nothing to me. This particular piece of wood was about the size of a 2×4 roughly three feet long. The middle foot had the bark intact and the area to either side was cut straight.

I was carving for no reason other than to carve for enjoyment. I started removing material, trying to make the cut edge flow into the live edge. Then, as I like to do, I began forming a twist. Completely by eye, I carved a quarter twist into the first third of the board, blending it into the bark as best I could.

The result was very interesting. It was no longer an area of defect that you should divert your eyes from and politely pretend you hadn’t noticed. It was not apologetic, rather it was a bold feature that demanded equal, if not greater attention than the live edge. I think that the irregularity of the done-by-eye twist worked favourably with the organic bark edge.

Moreover, I feel that if used between two sections of live edge, this twist would not only fit in with equal authority, but it would in fact visually tie the two live edge sections together.

I am never satisfied when I have to make a compromise in a design to make up for a shortcoming. This, however, is not a compromise – it is taking a problem and fully exploiting it for what it really is: a design opportunity.

Live Edge twist

Butternut Bedside Table

This bedside table is my latest commissioned work.  It is made of butternut.

Butternut Bedside Table

Although some woodworkers don’t like to use knots in their work, I really like the focal point which a knot can provide.  The grain around the knot is also very interesting and pretty.

Butternut Bedside Table Detail

In the past, when using wood with two live edges, I have employed a few different techniques for addressing the cut ends.  In this case, I sculpted the ends so that the profile at each edge matched the angle of the live edge.  Since the angles of the live edge were not equal, this of course resulted in a twisted end-grain surface.

You can find the product page for this table with the critical details HERE.

Also, please have a look at my newly formatted Gallery.

Table in a Tree

Last weekend, I met with some of my fellow Artwalk participants and showed them the yellow cedar chair that I’d built to hang in the tree outside The Bistro Gallery where I will be showing my work.

Chair in a Tree

Chair in a Tree

They loved the concept and encouraged me to make another piece for a second tree.  So, that’s what I decided to do.

I documented my progress live on Twitter using hashtag #FlairWW (follow me @FlairWoodworks) which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  I compiled the photos and Tweets into a video (duration – 10:21).


This is the eighteenth slide from my PechaKucha presentation.

C.Wong-18

Relationship Study

Chair in a Tree

Saturday was a full day in the shop.  After breakfast, I went down to the shop and built 90% of a chair which will be installed up in a tree.  (In case you missed it, here’s the back story.)

ArtWalk Tree Art I documented my progress live on Twitter using hashtag #FlairWW (follow me @FlairWoodworks) which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  I compiled the photos and Tweets into a video (duration – 22:41).


This is the fourteenth slide from my PechaKucha presentation.

C.Wong-14

Something Like That

Maple Trestle Table, Session 11 – Straight Lines on Wonky Surfaces

On the morning of Sunday, April 15th, Morton and I exchanged ideas about trestle tables, spurred on by a recent sketch of a table on which he was working.  That got me yearning to build a trestle table.

I documented my progress live on Twitter which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  Here is a list of the previous Sessions:

Session 1 – Flat Boards are Boring;
Session 2 – Playing with Slabs;
Session 3 – From Two Slabs to One Table Top;
Session 4 – Clamping Odd Shapes and Sketching on Wood;
Session 5 – Routing Pockets for Battens;
Session 6 – Making Battens and Installing Countertop Connectors;
Session 7 – Installing Battens and Flattening the Underside;
Session 8 – Make Your Tools Work for You and Flattening the Top;
Session 9 – Mortises the Slow Way (or Why I’m Buying a Domino XL); and
Session 10 – Curvy Legs are Always Good.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username, being the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are preceded by a @ symbol and are people to whom the author is talking.  The other symbol you see is #, which serves as a category.  I try to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

FlairWoodworks I’m back in the shop at 11am sharp! Should I tackle this stretcher issue? #flairww -11:00 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I realized this morning that I’d made an error in laying out the angle of the legs. #flairww -11:23 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I had laid out the angle of the leg so that it would be centred at the bottom of the foot, not the top where it enters. #flairww -11:24 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks However, this means that the leg leans even more and does not make it any easier to join the stretcher. #flairww -11:25 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks This is turning into a mental challenge. Thankfully it does not involve numbers like @HalfInchShy’s project#flairww-11:27 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Here, the centre of the leg where it enters the foot is centred over its position on the batten. #flairww -11:33 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I spent an hour on the phone with my partner @GarthTW2 discussing some new products we’re planning. Back to the table now. #flairww-12:31 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The shaded area represents the space that would be occupied by the wide end of the stretcher. #flairww -12:47 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The other end is much smaller and should not be a problem. #flairww -12:47 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Of course, I’ll cut tenons on the stretcher so that I don’t need to remove so much material from the leg. #flairww -12:48 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m confident that this angle for the legs will work so I’m going to go make the cut. Again, I’ll use my sliding table saw. #flairww -12:55 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m ready to make the cut. The slider guarantees the cuts will be in a straight line. #flairww -1:00 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Here’s the completed cut. I will cut the other end later. #flairww -1:01 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks While I’m thinking about what to do next for this leg, I’ll lay out and cut the angle of the other leg. #flairww -1:06 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks By the way, I’m making this table 43″ tall. #flairww -1:09 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks No I’m not. I’m making the table 29″ tall. I just wanted to see if anybody was paying attention. #flairww -1:10 PM May 2nd, 2012

LornaBourke @FlairWoodworks Chris, I’m following but I didn’t catch the start so I didn’t know how tall the table is #youarenotalone #flairww -1:15 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @LornaBourke Well, 43″ would be a very tall table. It would be unusual to say the least. Thanks for following! #flairww -1:17 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Both legs are now cut! #flairww -1:19 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I had left one part of the leg thicker to allow some sculpting, but it’s a problem now. #flairww -1:22 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks PS: Like my workbench? Working on the ground, Japanese-style. #flairww -1:22 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Before planing the face, I wrapped the layout lines over to the edges to preserve them. #flairww -1:26 PM May 2nd, 2012

Morton @FlairWoodworks 29″ high is what my current dining table project is going to be also. -1:28 PM May 2nd, 2012

luggermatt @FlairWoodworks I spend half my time working on the ground! It saves picking stuff up.. ;-) -1:30 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I don’t like it so far. #flairww RT @luggermatt:@FlairWoodworks I spend half my time working on the ground! It saves picking stuff up.. ;-) -1:32 PM May 2nd, 2012

luggermatt @FlairWoodworks When the timber you’re working with is 15ft lengths of 2″x8″ oak it’s easier. Move the machine to it too ;-) -1:32 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @luggermatt Well, yeah. -1:32 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks There – it’s leveled. Not my idea of fun… #flairww -1:42 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Now I need to re-establish my layout lines. #flairww -1:43 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m working on how to position the stretcher. Here, the midpoint of each end is at the same height. #flairww -1:59 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Note that about 10″ will be cut off of the left side. #flairww -1:59 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m standing back and having a drink of water while I analyze the stretcher’s positioning. Should I make one end higher? #flairww -2:00 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I have longer and shorter levels but the 2′ level gets the most use. An 18″ level might be nice. #flairww -2:04 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve decided to go forwards with the balanced positioning of the stretcher. I used the level to mark plumb lines on each end. #flairww -2:05 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks If my shop were wide enough, I could crosscut the stretcher with my sliding table saw. #flairww -2:09 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Since my shop is not that wide, my options include my compound mitre saw, jigsaw, or handsaw. #flairww -2:09 PM May 2nd, 2012

BourbonCremeBot RT @FlairWoodworks I sure could use a Bourbon Creme about now #flairww -2:14 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m opting to use the jigsaw. I clamped a piece of plywood to the top of the stretcher. #flairww -2:21 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The plywood provides a smooth, even surface on which the jigsaw can ride without getting caught. #flairww -2:22 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The trouble with non-flat stock is that it always wants to move. You have to secure it really well. #flairww -2:23 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Well, that certainly wasn’t the best cut I’ve ever done. But it’s good enough since it will be trimmed later. #flairww -2:27 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks So… how do I cut parallel tenons on either end of a long, non-flat, curved, stretcher? #flairww -2:29 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I know I can figure out a way to cut the tenons, but if you have an idea, I’m listening! #flairww -2:30 PM May 2nd, 2012

msnodgrass2 @FlairWoodworks would snapping chalk lines help? I didn’t see the stretcher -2:33 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I don’t think so. #flairww RT@msnodgrass2: @FlairWoodworks would snapping chalk lines help? I didn’t see the stretcher -2:34 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @msnodgrass2 It’s more the general wonkiness, rather than the curve that makes it difficult. #flairww -2:35 PM May 2nd, 2012

kring_l @FlairWoodworks long semi flexible strait edge for the face but not sure 4 the ends -2:36 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Would that make it semi-straight? #flairww RT @kring_l:@FlairWoodworks long semi flexible strait edge for the face but not sure 4 the ends -2:38 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The positioning of my saw horses indicates that my shop may be a little crowded. #flairww -2:39 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks My winding sticks show the twist in the stretcher from one end to the other. #flairww -2:43 PM May 2nd, 2012

kring_l @flairwoodworks no the edge stays strait the face can bow I use a 4 foot aluminum ruler type strait edge -2:45 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Gotcha. #flairww RT @kring_l: no the edge stays strait the face can bow I use a 4 foot aluminum ruler type strait edge -2:45 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I realized that the twist could help me if it twisted in the right direction. But it doesn’t. #flairww -2:49 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m using the short fence on my table saw to crosscut parts for my tenoning jig to a consistent length. #flairww -2:59 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve marked the direction of grain runout on the jig parts. In this direction, the wood planes cleanly. #flairww -3:04 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I like to assemble my jigs with screws so I can later take them apart and reuse the parts. #flairww -3:19 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks (Have you ever seen an uglier jig?) #flairww -3:19 PM May 2nd, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks That doesn’t look bad at all! Put a flair mark on it :) #flairww -3:23 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Yuk yuk yuk! RT @HalfInchShy: @FlairWoodworks That doesn’t look bad at all! Put a flair mark on it :) #flairww -3:23 PM May 2nd, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks The one from the Ceros demo #flairww -3:24 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I jointed the edge of the jig square to the face. The jig is now done. #flairww -3:24 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @HalfInchShy I don’t follow… #flairww -3:24 PM May 2nd, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks In ur Ceros sanding demo, u made a flair mark to be sanded; add 2 here to make it moe betta (asymmetrical of course #flairww -3:25 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @HalfInchShy Good call. It looks much better now. #flairww -3:28 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks With the jig clamped to the stretcher, I now have parallel reference surfaces on each side. #flairww -3:29 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Okay – lunch time! #flairww -3:30 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Darn it… somebody tracked sawdust into the house again. Hey – don’t look at me! #flairww -3:33 PM May 2nd, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks my 24″ level sees the most time too. -4:33 PM May 2nd, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks mark 1 w/ a level. Go across w/ a straight edge, adjust height as desired & level the 2nd one. -4:40 PM May 2nd, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Bet you could go for some Bourbon Cream right about now… #flairww -4:46 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m back in the shop and I’ll set up to rout the first tenon. #Woodchat starts in 20 minutes. #flairww -5:40 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks There is no way I’ll be able to rout the full length of the tenons without a wider router baseplate. #flairww -5:45 PM May 2nd, 2012

bourboncreambot RT @HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Bet you could go for some Bourbon Cream right about now… #flairww -5:46 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Rather than make an offset router baseplate, I’m going to use a router attached to a table insert. #flairww -5:48 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks That’s right, @HalfInchShy – I don’t mess around! #flairww -5:48 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve got the jig set up and router bit installed. Next, I need to figure out how deep to set the bit. #flairww -5:56 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks How do these proportions look? When dealing with large tenons, I leave the tenon a bit thicker than 1/3. #flairww -6:01 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Time for #woodchat. Feel free to join in on Twitter! I’ll resume the project in one hour. #flairww -6:01 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Ok, #woodchat crew. I need to go rout some tenons with my inverted router table. #flairww -6:59 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I did what I could with my routers (more router frustrations). I’ll do the rest by hand. #flairww -7:37 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks You want a challenge? Clamp this stretcher solidly! #flairww -8:00 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ll finish fine-tuning the first tenon after dinner. #flairww -8:05 PM May 2nd, 2012

Hey – the next day is “after dinner” too.

While you’re waiting for me to return from my dinner break, please leave a comment.

Maple Trestle Table, Session 1 – Flat Boards are Boring

On the morning of Sunday, April 15th, Morton and I exchanged ideas about trestle tables, spurred on by a recent sketch of a table on which he was working.  That got me yearning to build a trestle table.

I documented my progress live on Twitter which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username, being the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are preceded by a @ symbol and are people to whom the author is talking.  The other symbol you see is #, which serves as a category.  I try to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

FlairWoodworks Does this (the right side) look like a nice stretcher? #flairww @Morton -3:43 PM Apr 15th, 2012

WatkinsWoodWork @FlairWoodworks @Morton It definitely has potential -3:51 PM Apr 15th, 2012

sharpendwood @FlairWoodworks I like it. Is the crack near the center a problem? @Morton -3:58 PM Apr 15th, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks @Morton the whole thing looks like a giant pump. (A women’s high heel) -4:00 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Hmm. I am not seeing it. RT @BCcraftmaster: @FlairWoodworks @Morton the whole thing looks like a giant pump. (A women’s high heel) -4:01 PM Apr 15th, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks @Morton it also has the shape/curvature of the back leg of a chair. -4:04 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Now, THAT, I see. RT @BCcraftmaster: @FlairWoodworks @Morton it also has the shape/curvature of the back leg of a chair. -4:05 PM Apr 15th, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks @Morton good, I’m not crazy… -4:13 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks It’s often good to be crazy. RT @BCcraftmaster: @FlairWoodworks @Morton good, I’m not crazy… -4:14 PM Apr 15th, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks you could make a chair/throne for enjoying all of those giant pieces of cake you eat!:-) -4:26 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @BCcraftmaster Actually, I have a piece of spalted maple reserved for that, tucked away in the corner of my shop since 5 years ago. -4:27 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I faired the curve with my low angle jack plane. #flairww -4:36 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I smoothed one side with my jack plane followed by my random orbit sander. #flairww-5:18 PM Apr 15th, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks is that split going to stay attached or will it spit off? Hopefully you can incorporate it… -5:23 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @BCcraftmaster It’s going to stay attached. -5:26 PM Apr 15th, 2012

Morton @FlairWoodworks I think so. Assuming the blue line is a cut-line, I would have the closer end be symmetrical (same width) around the crack. -5:34 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Morton Symmetry was not going to happen. It wasn’t in the cards. -5:36 PM Apr 15th, 2012

Morton @FlairWoodworks Is that stretcher vertical (as shown in latest photo) or horizontal? -5:37 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Morton I think it will be vertical. -5:38 PM Apr 15th, 2012

Morton @FlairWoodworks Ah, cool. Like that better. Symmetry doesn’t matter (to me) then ;) -5:38 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Glad to have you on-board! RT @Morton: @FlairWoodworks Ah, cool. Like that better. Symmetry doesn’t matter (to me) then ;) -5:39 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I just stopped and took a minute to resharpen my low-angle jack plane’s O1 blade. #flairww -5:47 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I used my 1200x diamond stone on the hollow-ground blade, then stropped it. Quick and effective. #flairww -5:48 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Side 2 took a long time to smooth. I started with my low-angle jack and finished with my random orbit sander. #flairww -6:37 PM Apr 15th, 2012

WatkinsWoodWork @FlairWoodworks looks good. Can’t wait to see the finished piece. -6:38 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I used three 80-grit Abranet sanding discs to smooth the two sides of this piece of maple. #flairww -6:39 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks You can use a handscrew to help hold a board vertically.#flairww -6:43 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I think that the cut edge will be the top. I’m unsure what to do with the square edge. Two wide chamfers? #flairww -6:48 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Any ideas or suggestions of what to do with the edge?#flairww -6:51 PM Apr 15th, 2012

MansFineFurn @FlairWoodworks carved ‘twist’ -6:52 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks It’s almost 7pm. I need to get some dinner before the#Canucks game at 7:30. #flairww -6:51 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks On the edge? Hmmm. Thinking…. still thinking… RT @MansFineFurn: @FlairWoodworks carved ‘twist’ -6:53 PM Apr 15th, 2012

MansFineFurn @FlairWoodworks face to top, then top to opposite face, um, not sure how else to describe it -6:54 PM Apr 15th, 2012

WatkinsWoodWork @FlairWoodworks I like the bulk of it. I say leave it. -6:54 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @MansFineFurn I think I understand what you mean. I know how I would do it. -6:54 PM Apr 15th, 2012

MansFineFurn @FlairWoodworks show me -6:55 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @mansfinefurn Have a look at this – the apron of Table with a Twist. #flairww -6:55 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @WatkinsWoodWork Something about live edges and square corners doesn’t sit right with me. -6:58 PM Apr 15th, 2012

MansFineFurn @FlairWoodworks yeah, more or less like that, but with a faster transition. -6:59 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @mansfinefurn Here’s another pic of the other side. #flairww -6:59 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Exactly! #flairww RT @MansFineFurn: @FlairWoodworks yeah, more or less like that, but with a faster transition. -7:00 PM Apr 15th, 2012

MansFineFurn @FlairWoodworks or get wild to a twist, to the middle, then twist it back -7:00 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @MansFineFurn I’ve experimented with reversing twists but didn’t like the effect. #flairww -7:02 PM Apr 15th, 2012

Morton @FlairWoodworks For me – I’d keep the wide, flat edge. I like how it looks smooth and flat compared to the side. #flairww -8:11 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Hmm. Contrast. RT @Morton: For me – I’d keep the wide, flat edge. I like how it looks smooth and flat compared to the side. #flairww -8:12 PM Apr 15th, 2012

Morton @FlairWoodworks Wow – that is really cool (twisted apron). Thx for the pic. -8:12 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Thanks for the compliment. RT @Morton: @FlairWoodworks Wow – that is really cool (twisted apron). Thx for the pic. -8:13 PM Apr 15th, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks abranet is great, isn’t it? 8:16 PM Apr 15th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Love it. RT @DyamiPlotke: @FlairWoodworks abranet is great, isn’t it. 8:16 PM Apr 15th, 2012

Keep going and read about Session 2!

Setback? What Setback?

Dream big and push for it. But be reasonable. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Hope for everything but expect nothing.

I built my Table with a Twist to submit for “Regeneration: Fine Woodworkers Under 30″.  After submitting my table, I, along with another 184 woodworkers, was left to wait for two weeks before I learned if my piece had been chosen.  In the end, 22 pieces were selected.  Mine was not among the ones chosen.

To get into this exhibit would have been a big deal.  I wanted to get in and believed that I had a legitimate chance at having my piece included.  Alas, despite my best efforts, it was not selected.

I don’t know why my table wasn’t selected and I could spend all day speculating but in the end it doesn’t make any difference.  Sometimes things don’t always go as you want.  Sometimes you have control over the outcome.  Sometimes you don’t; if you don’t have control over it, there is no use stressing about it.


That my table was not selected has not had a negative effect on me (at least that I can tell).  I have confidence in my work and know what I need to do now – take it to the next level.  Stay tuned!

Congratulations to the 22 fine woodworkers who were selected.  If you can provide any more links, please contact me at chris@flairwoodworks.com

Christopher Atwood        E Pluribus Unum
Nate Blaisdell                 Cabinet
Virginia Blanchard          Screen
Cale Caboth                   Tilt Table
George Dubinsky           Wall Cabinet
Domenic Fiorello            Thomas Cabinet & Table
Russell Gale                   The Garboard Strake (Sideboard)
Jordan Goodman            VAULT Table 2.0
Dan Jessel                      Vessel
Bryan Klotz                     Butcher’s Bowl
Brandon Kowalski           Dad’s Cabinet
Michael Kowalski            Ramblin’ Scuse
Phil Leonard                   Dining Chair
Brett MacLearnsberry     Beech Blossom
Mickey McCann              Excelsior!
Michelle Myers                Demilune Table
Eric Oransky                   Hepplewhite, Serpentine Chest of Drawers
Kent Purdue                    Consciousness
Nick Preneta                   Embracing Table
Jason Shirey                   Kidshiu
Colin Tury                        Unorganized Cabinet
Steven Vowles                 ‘Fast Cars and Fine Cigars’ Ultralounge Chair

UPDATE: all selected pieces can be viewed on the Regeneration: Fine Woodworkers Under 30 site.

Construction of “Table with a Twist” – Part 3: Top and Finishing


This is the third post on the construction of my Table with a Twist.  The first post covered the making of the legs and the second post covered the aprons.

The tabletop was the last main component to be made.  I had selected a premium piece of figured maple which I milled to about 42″ x 12-1/2″ x 1-1/8″.  As usual, I focused on proportions over even numbers.  I knew that a rectilinear top wouldn’t suit the overall design of the table so I planned to introduce some curves.  To ensure the top was symmetrical, I made two templates from my favourite template stock – 1/4″ MDF.  One template was for the front edge and the other was for the ends.  The back was left straight.  I cut the templates out using my bandsaw and used a stationary belt sander to smooth the edges.  Then I traced their shapes onto the maple top and used the jigsaw to cut close to the line.

After securing the templates to the top, I used a template bit to finish the profile.  The large-diameter bit made a very smooth cut and took large shavings, even on the end-grain.

After shaping the top, I set it on the base to see how it looked.  The 1-1/8″ thick top was too visually heavy and adding a small chamfer or round-over would not have been enough to lighten the top.  To make the top look less chunky, I chose to bevel both the top and bottom.  But instead of using the same profile on each side, I used a standard 45-degree chamfer bit on the bottom and a low-angle panel-raising bit on the top to create a wide bevel.

To attach the top to the base, I used wooden buttons.  I cut them on the tablesaw and drilled screw holes with the drill press.  Can you see the mistake I made?

After having completed the first batch, I noticed that the grain was oriented the wrong way.  With the grain running this way, the tongue, to the right in the picture, could have easily broken off if stressed.

Once I made the new buttons with the grain oriented properly, the power tools were retired.  Next, I gave everything a careful look over and lightly sanded all surfaces with 180x sandpaper.  Before finishing, I cleaned the wood by wiping it down with alcohol.  The last step was to apply a couple coats of spray-on polyurethane followed by wipe-on polyurethane to build up a protective, scratch-resistant finish.

I’ll leave you with my favourite picture of the table.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the process as much as I have.

Construction of “Table with a Twist” – Part 2: Twisted Aprons

This is the second post on the construction of my Table with a Twist.  The first post covered the making of the legs.

I had initially thought about making the aprons square like the legs because I knew how to twist a square blank and wasn’t sure how a rectangular blank would work.  I experimented with different apron designs and settled with a quarter twist (right photo).

However, I realized that having a 2″x2″ apron would not have offered enough support for the legs and I did not want to incorporate a stretcher below, as I felt that a stretcher would distract from the shape of the legs.  Using a wider apron provided greater racking resistance.  Before I laid out the twist in the legs, I had determined how wide (high) I wanted the aprons to be so I kept that area of the legs flat and untwisted to keep joinery simple.

I wanted the base to flare outwards towards the back as well, so that meant the ends of the side aprons needed to be cut at an angle.  Also, the front and back aprons needed to be cut at different lengths.  I wanted the flare to be subtle and I laid out a pleasing angle by eye which was only a few degrees.  I used my Domino joiner set to cut mortises for the largest Domino floating tenons which were 10mm (3/8″) thick and 50mm (2″) long.  I cut three mortises in each apron end and the inside faces of the legs.  To minimize the chance of errors, I cut all 16 top mortises first, then reset the Domino’s fence to cut the middle mortise, then reset the fence once again for the bottom mortise.

Then I dry-fitted the joints.  They were tight and perfectly aligned.  Because the Domino floating tenons were such a snug fit, it was work to get the dry joints together and apart.  That was what I wanted.

Next, I laid out the quarter twists which was as simple as drawing lines from corner to corner on all four faces.  I wanted to carve the twist on three surfaces, though only two surfaces are visible.  If I were only carving the two visible faces, I would have drawn diagonal lines on the two edges and one front face.

Unlike the legs, I elected to twist the aprons all the same direction – clockwise.  Then I carved to the lines using my drawknife.  As before, I finished up with a spokeshave.  To hold the aprons while carving them, I put the bar of a parallel-jaw clamp in my vise and used the clamp to secure them from the ends.  This gave me full access to the carved sections.

On the short aprons, I ran into an unexpected challenge.  Because I was carving a quarter twist in such a short piece, the twist was sharper than any I had encountered before.  This meant that my drawknife was of limited use and my spokeshave was even less useful because of the length of blade or sole of the tool.  I did what I could with my drawknife, then went to carving gouges, rasps and card scrapers.

Once again, I dry-fitted the carved aprons with the legs.  The back apron, which was not carved, was yet to be fitted.

Next week, I will detail the construction of the top and finishing.

Construction of “Table with a Twist” – Part 1: Legs

When I set out to create this table I knew that I wanted to use plain wood for the base and figured wood for the top.  I knew that straight-grained wood would be easier to carve, and complements the carving well; curvy grain would distract from the linear design.  I expected that using figured wood for the top in contrast to the straight-grained base would create a “wow” factor – another dimension to the piece.

As most of my projects do, this one started with a hunt for wood.  I had a nice piece of figured maple that had been sitting around my shop for a few years and this seemed like the time to use it.  However, I didn’t have any 8/4 (2″ thick) maple that was exceptionally straight grained in my shop.  I found just what I needed at a local lumber supplier, P&D Taylor Industries.

With all the necessary material on hand I was ready to begin.  I started with the legs because they require the most time and are one of the most enjoyable parts of the project.  Also, I rationalized that the legs would be easier to store than a table top while the rest of the piece was being made.  By finishing the top last it stood a greater chance of not getting damaged.

I sawed the 8/4 maple into 2″ x 2″ x 36″ leg blanks and surfaced them to 1-7/8″ square.  Then I cut them to final length.  I wanted the table to be 30″ high, so I subtracted the top’s thickness and set a stop block to that measurement.  Looking at the colour of the wood as well as the slight variances in grain I oriented the legs on my bench to make the prettiest faces most visible.  It wasn’t easy when they all looked so close, as straight-grained stock does!  Once happy with their position I marked them FR (front right), FL (front left), BL (back left) and BR (back right).  I made the marks on the inside corner so that I knew where each leg went and how it was to be positioned.  I made sure to make my marks on the tops of the legs so the letters didn’t get removed in the carving process.  In this position, I used (blue) chalk to indicate which areas needed to be carved away to form the 1/8 (45-degree) twist.  When viewed from the front, the front legs twisted outwards.  When viewed from the back, the back legs also twisted outwards.  So when viewed from above, the front left and back right legs twisted clockwise while the other two twisted counterclockwise.

The creation of the twists was actually very simple.  First, I drew a line around the leg indicating where I wanted the twist to begin.  Then I would have used my Board Twister… if I could find it.  Sadly, the stores didn’t have any in stock either so I had to twist the legs the old-fashioned way.

On the bottom of the legs I marked the midpoints of each face and connected the dots.  A miter saddle square came in handy here.  This diamond represented the bottom of the leg.  Carving the twist automatically tapered the leg at the same time.  Note that my leg blanks were riftsawn – the growth rings ran at approximately 45-degrees to the faces.  This meant that each face exhibited straight grain.  I didn’t want to see cathedral grain (arches) on these parts.

Then, being mindful of the blue chalk, I used a long straight edge to connect the corner at the top of the leg (where the twist starts) with the midpoint at the bottom of the leg.  Note that the diagonal pencil line was drawn counter to the implied angle of the chalk.  This was correct.  I drew this line on all four sides of each leg, remembering that for two legs, the diagonal line would go the other way.  (The leg in the picture below has a counterclockwise twist and the top of the leg is to the right of the picture.  You can also see the marking tools I used sitting on the bench.  I don’t remember why the fine-tip marker is there though…)

To ensure that the leg bottoms ended in a crisp, clean square, I first cut chamfers up to the layout lines.  This project made good use of the Tucker vise’s tilt capabilities.

Then I used a drawknife to remove the bulk of the waste.  My goal was to remove all the high spots between the diagonal lines I drew on the leg faces.  Because of the twist, I started with the drawknife at the top and parallel to the leg face and finished with the leg at the bottom, angled 45- degrees to the leg.  Of course, if the grain ran the other way, I would need to work in the opposite direction.  I had to be mindful of the layout lines!  Even though I could work right up to them with my drawknife, but I always finished up with my flat spokeshave which fairs the twisted faces.

When done, I had something that looks like this.  Notice that my formerly rift-sawn leg blank now appeared to be flatsawn or quartersawn, depending on how you looked at it.  There was a chance that there would be more prominent figure towards the base of the legs.  By using the straightest-grained wood I could find, I minimized the chance of exposing wild grain patterns.

I finished up with card scrapers and sandpaper to 180-grit.  If I was not planning to add a pad or glide to the bottom of the leg, I would have lightly chamfered the edges.

Next week:  Carving the aprons.  While they were also twisted, the layout and carving procedure was different and there were be some additional challenges!  I had considered a few different profiles before settling on the quarter twist.