Saturday, August 16, 2008

Limbert Fern Stand

This is a nice little fern table that is based on the Limbert #244 fern stand. I've seen a lot of pictures of reproductions but I haven't been able to track down a picture of the original. I do have a couple of Limbert catalogs but they are all drawn, no photos. So while the dimensions are correct I can't call this an accurate reproduction. I've made five of these before and its one of my favorite forms. I like the long sweeping legs and the subtle in curve at the bottom of the leg. The top and middle shelf are both 12 inches in diameter, the picture on the left has a top at 14 inches by request of the customer.

This is a nice quick little project it can be completed in a weekend, but of course, the finishing takes a few days due to drying times. You need some nicely figured Quartersawn White Oak that is at least 7 inches wide. I had previously made a template for this form that you see here. I cut 4 pieces of QSWO 28 inches long and traced the pattern making sure to line it up on a square side.

Before I cut the outlines on the bandsaw I had to run a 3/8 x3/8 inch rabbet along the straight edge, more on that later. With all the legs rough cut I used double sided turner's tape to hold the pattern to the leg. I learned the hard way not to try to cheap out and save tape by trying to tape it to the pattern and reuse it. The pattern shifted and I lost one leg on a previous build. I used a pattern routing bit on the router table to finish the shape on the legs.

This is why you run the rabbet on the legs, I call this joint the "crazy rabbet" its an elegant way to join all 4 legs. Popular Woodworking used this joint building a version of a Limbert #238 table.

Here are the legs dry fitted for the first time if the stock is straight and square and your cuts are true, you can put it together like this using the "crazy rabbet" without any clamps for a dry fit. I used the off cuts from the legs to glue up 2 blanks for the tops.

Once the glue has dried on the blanks I used a trammel to mark a 12 inch diameter circle then took them to the bandsaw and cut just proud of the line.

Placing a shop made circle cutting jig on my tablesaw and installing a 1/2 inch spiral cutting bit I adjusted the jig to 6 inches from the bit. I drilled a 1/4 inch hole into the center mark of the top and the shelf careful not to drill all the way through, and careful not to drill in from the best face. I placed the circle blank onto a 1/4 inch bolt that protrudes through the circle cutting jig, and adjusted the jig so that the bit was clear from the wood. I usually remember to cut a little closer to the line of the circle in one spot while at the bandsaw so that the bit can spin clear. I then carefully rotated the blank slowly around until complete, I then move the jig slightly closer and repeat until the circle it complete. This operation is tricky and if the bit catches the grain it can tear off a chunk or even more scary it can grab the blank and spin it. When I'm rotating the blank I keep my right hand pressing down to control it and carefully move it around with my left hand. I use the back of the table for this operation so I have a lot of table between me and the bit.
The final dry fit after sanding showing the rabbets, no pressure or clamps used here.

Another view of the bottom showing the shelf inserted. One thing I didn't show is that shelf has 4 cutouts to match the cutouts on the legs.

The final dry fit with the top placed on. A little glue is all it takes to complete the table, at which time I'll clamp it till it dries. The top is held on with a few figure 8 table irons, or if you want you can drill a 1/4 inch hole in the center of the top of the legs and use a dowel and a little glue, the top is small enough that wood movement shouldn't be a problem. This little table is great for a corner to hold a vase and flowers, or a fern if you really want....

"I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to have things I am not able to appreciate." - Elbert Hubbard


Shannon said...

Great project Brad. I really like the lines and the simplicity in the construction. I have been really drawn to Limbert's work lately. What is your finish schedule for this piece? I like the color in the opening picture.

Margaret said...

I really love the design of this one.

Yesterday my husband and I were moaning about how little good furniture there is in the world! If we ever move to the States again, we'll have to get you to make something! It seems like it's just impossible to find beautiful woodwork.

Jonathan Smith said...

Great work! I'm building the Popular Woodworking version. This blog entry helps and I'll reread it but can you tell me if you glued in the lower shelf or let it float free?


Brad Ferguson said...

I just put a little glue in the center so it can move and let the side cutouts hold it in place.