Friday, March 21, 2008

My Favorite Little Table

If I was going to teach a course on basic furniture making this is the project I'd choose, it is a Stickley #602 small table. I've made several copies of this table and everyone that has one of them loves it. I have one next to my Morris chair with a pile of woodworking magazines on it, another one over by the wall that my laptop lives on when its not in my lap, and a couple more upstairs that I can use for anything I want. I have a #604 table that's 26 inches tall and 20 inches across the top that sits next to the prairie sofa at just the right height. The #602 table is 18 inches tall, it has a 16 inch round top, 2 assemblies of cross stretchers, and 4 legs 1 3/8 square. You can make it with 2BF of 8/4 quartersawn white oak, 3 BF of 4/4 quartersawn white oak, and about 6 inches of 1/4 inch dowel. That comes out to about $25 in wood, not a bad materials cost for a class.

You can learn every step of making furniture short of case work with this project. You have to flatten and square the stock, rough cut and finish cut the stock. Prepare and glue up a top, cut through mortises in the legs, cut captured dovetails in the top of the legs for the top stretchers. You have to cut half lap joints for the top stretchers, you need to pattern cut the bottom stretchers then cut a half lap, vertically oriented joint. You will cut tenons for the through mortises on the lower stretchers. You also will have to cut a circle for the top.

One of the best reasons for using this table for teaching is that it can be made with any combination of hand/power tools that your students have access to. You can make a pattern and trim the bottom stretchers on a router table, after you trim them on a band saw, or you can cut them with a jigsaw and finish them on a oscillating spindle sander, or if you really wanted you could cut them with a coping saw and using rasps, files, and sandpaper shape them all by hand.

The half lap joints on the top stretchers could be cut using a dado blade on the tablesaw, could be routed, or could be cut with a handsaw and a chisel. The trapped dovetail joints at the top of the legs could be cut using the same varieties of tools.
The mortises for the through tenons could be cut using a mortising machine, it could be cut using a plunge router and squared with a chisel, it could be drilled out on a drill press and cleaned up with a chisel, or you could go old school and drill it out with a brace and bit and clean it with a chisel, or even, mortise the whole thing with a mortising chisel. The tenons could easily be cut by hand and trimmed with a shoulder plane, or you could use a tenoning jig on a tablesaw.
Once the glue up for the top is dry you have to cut a circle, the rough cut could be done with a jigsaw, a bandsaw or a handsaw. It then has to be shaped to a perfect circle, you can use a pattern and a router, a circle cutting jig with a router or on a router table, you can also shape it on a disc sander with a jig, or you could shape it by hand with planes or spokeshaves.
Every piece must be sanded to 150-180 grit, you could use a random orbit sander, or even just a block of wood with sandpaper wrapped around it. You have to finish the table and doing this you could teach methods as simple as a stain and poly finish, or you could go all out and use the multi step arts and crafts finish I've previously described, or you could fume it with ammonia and finish it that way. Along the way you've used multiple methods to accomplish several tasks and depending on what tools you have and what you techniques you feel comfortable with you've completed it your way.But regardless of which techniques you use, you should end up with the same thing in the end, a nice little table that is perfect next to a chair to hold a drink and a book.
He has achieved success who has worked well, laughed often, and loved much.
Elbert Hubbard

1 comment:

Steve W. Carter said...

Thanks for the post and for the inspiration! This sounds like an excellent project for me to attempt. I really appreciate the way that you have given us multiple choices for tools and techniques. This should be fun!