Sunday, January 6, 2008

no plans, only two pictures and a description

The Arts and Crafts movement produced hundreds of wonderful designs for furniture but only a very small percentage is represented in in the woodworking plan books. I have every contemporary book on making Arts and Crafts furniture and over the last 5 years I've collected every woodworking magazine with any mention of it. A lot of what you see in the magazines are modern designs in the style, or sometimes a Gustav Stickley, or more recently some Greene and Greene designs. So what do you do if you see something in a magazine (American Bungalow, Style 1900, and Arts and Crafts and the Revival are good examples ) other than a woodworking magazine that you like and would like to build? Well first I'd do some research and find the model number of the piece you are interested in, luckily for us there are reprints of the Stickely and Limbert catalogs as well as many of the other manufacturers. Greene and Greene are harder and rarer because they were architects that designed specifically for their houses and not a manufacture. Once you have the model number do a search online and find as many pictures and descriptions as you can. I find my best information comes from online auction catalogs, they usually have measurements as well as a short description and at least one picture.
I found this umbrella stand in an online auction catalog from March of 2007 where it sold for $2800. I like it much better than the umbrella stand I made for myself 5 years ago, it was one of my first Arts and Crafts projects and not a reproduction but a modern design described as a mission umbrella stand. I've learned a great deal since then and I have to say that some lack of skill in joinery and finishing shows in that piece, most people don't see it but I do. I've got a few hundred BF of really nice quartersawn white oak so I thought "time to get rid of that ugly stand".
I learned from the auction site that this is a Limbert Umbrella stand #254, they described it as 12x12 inches and 27 inches tall, a look in my Limbert catalog reprint confirmed this so now I have everything I need to reproduce it, it won't be an exact reproductions as I have no details of the joinery but I'm fairly certain that It will be a very close copy. I took the better of the two pictures and blew it up to focus on the details at the bottom, I printed that and a full length picture.

I know that the base is 12 inches square so the first thing I did is to outline the photo so that I have a hard edge to measure against, then I scale the picture. You can see in the pic on the left that I broke the largest side into 12 divisions then I used my calipers and the scale to measure the cutouts and transfer the measurements to the other side. Now I know from the description that there is a hammered copper drip pan and if you look into the cutout you can see what level it is at, so I know where to place the bottom.

Taking the full length picture and again outlining the edges, I again used the known base size and height, with this I used the calipers to scale the top at 8 inches. I transfer all the measurements to a piece of MDF that I cut to 12x27inches. What I end up with is a nicely proportioned template that I can use to make jigs and template for cutting the tapers and routing the cutouts. From the picture I can tell that the top is eased with a quarter round that looks like 1/2 inch, I also know that the top has to be mitered to compliment the angle of the side.

In my next post I'll cover determining the angles and making the jigs for the taper. I've decided to go with a plain 45 degree miter for the joints without splines or biscuits ( I don't think they used biscuits in the original). Luckily, when we made my shop I saved the leftover copper from the front roof accents, I'll hammer it with the round side of a ball peen hammer and shape it into a drip pan, I'll support this with a solid wood bottom. I'm going to give it a nice, rich, dark stain that will highlight the medular rays in the quartersawn white oak.
When I'm finished I'll have a beautiful umbrella stand that no one else has, well until you follow my plans and make your own. But that's the great thing about being a woodworker isn't it.

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