I spent the first full week of January in Blue Ash, Ohio at the Popular Woodworking shop to film two videos–one on Mid-Century Modern construction techniques, the other on building a coffee table in the style of Finn Juhl. It’s a little intimidating to be in front of three cameras, but I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product. And I’d love to have those lights in my basement shop.
I’d leaned the sides of the tabouret against the bench to get them out of the way to begin work on the corbels when something in their shape seemed familiar. Because the Limbert Furniture Company produced so many designs featuring the tapered column base, it took me a minute to realize why these sides look familiar: They are very similar to the the shape of the No. 254 umbrella stand. The stand may have a slightly wider mouth than the table, but both share the same footprint and similar cutouts, though the tabouret features two cutouts the stand’s one. It would be easy to repurpose the template I created to build the umbrella stand, either preserving both cutouts or omitting the second. The umbrellas probably won’t mind if I’m not 100% accurate to the original.…
I’d read in the past that you can use woodworking tools to mill soft metals like brass and aluminum, but I didn’t give that much thought. I also read you can bond metal using epoxy. Again, I didn’t give the fact much thought–until recently. Researching an upcoming project, I’ve finally had cause experiment with epoxy and aluminum tubing, and with my first results, my reaction has gone from “oh, you can epoxy aluminum” to something like “HOLY @#!$! YOU CAN EXPOXY ALUMINUM!” No need to braze or weld, you can just glue. Couple that capability with the ability to mill soft metals using woodworking tools, and it opens up new potential in the shop.
I’m still in the early stages of my experimentation, practicing simple and compound miter joints, but it’s a short step from experiment to fabricating parts. The base of a Nelson bench comes to mind, as does a variation on an Eames surfboard table.
To build the miter:
- Cut the aluminum tubing at the miter saw.
- Sand the miter with 50-80 grit paper. Scuffing the metal helps the epoxy adhere to it.
- Clean the metal with mineral spirits.
- Mix epoxy per the instructions. I used JB weld.
- Apply the epoxy yo the tubing and clamp together. I used a corner clamp for this miter, but for a trapezoidal frame (like the base of the Nelson bench, I’ll try packing tape.
The Limbert furniture company produced several occasional tables on the same theme–an octagonal top supported by corbels and a tapered columnar base. The No. 239 also features two cutouts on each side, the shape of cutouts echoing the shape of the sides.
My neighbor presented me with an interesting challenge: mill a new windowsill for a garage window. He was replacing the old window and needed to replace the rotted sill. The original featured beveled edges to account for the angle of the sill and two grooves its bottom. The shallow groove provides a drip edge to keep water from running under the sill. The deeper groove accommodates the edge of the siding.
Milling the new sill was straightforward. Using the original sill as a reference, I set the table saw blade to the bevel angle and ripped the bevel. The complimentary angle on the opposite side was achieved by flipping the board and running it down the other side of the blade. After planing my saw cuts to produce a finished edge, I used a router to plow both grooves, taking multiple passes with a 1/4″ straight bit to produce the correct width and depth for the grooves.
The AV Club recently featured an article on what it’s like to be a production designer. The interview subject, Michael Wylie, designed the sets for Masters of Sex. There’s not much on Mid-Century, but it was interesting to read about how Wylie used production design to help establish the personalities of Ben Masters and Virginia Johnson. In Johnsons’ case, the austere Mid-Century decor reflects a repressed personality.
The October 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine features my article on building an open-backed book case (it also works as a room divider) in the Mid-Century Modern style. I’ve detailed parts of the build on 1910 Craftsman, but the article goes into depth on step-by-step construction. I’m in good company in this issue–I enjoyed Jeff Miller’s article on the slat-back chair and am sorely tempted by Lee Valley’s new trammel points.
You can read the introduction to my article on the issue index or order a copy from shopwoodwhorking.com. This case is one of 29 designs featured in my book Mid-Century Modern Furniture, which is available on Amazon and shopWoodworking.com.
We’ve been contemplating an arbor to provide some visual separation between our house and the neighbors (small lot sizes are not a problem unique to modern times–Early 20th century developers are sometimes as guilty of maximizing the number of lots as their spiritual descendants). We like the idea of Wisteria in the landscape, but too many horror stories about lifted houses and ruined porches have dissuaded us from growing it on the house.
Image searches for “Craftsman arbor” and “Greene & Greene arbor” provided some inspiration, and I settled in to SketchUp to model a couple of variations. Both share the same basic layout with posts on eight-foot centers and the top beams staggered provide a little visual interest. A secondary beam below the first provides another path for vines. The first alternative features a simple step down on the rounded beam end, while the second features a stepped taper on the beam end. We are leaning toward the stepped taper design. If only post-and-beam construction were as easy as modeling something in SketchUp . . .
A trip to Portland this weekend meant we could admire the Craftsman homes in Hawthorne and browse for books at Powell’s. There’s been some substantial rearrangement since we were there last, but I was able to find the woodworking section eventually and was pleased to see my books on Limbert Furniture and Mid-Century Modern furniture on the shelf.