Last year, I built a modern coffee table for a very good friend of mine in D.C. The main concept was to have a coffee table that looked like one cohesive table, but was then able to pull apart and serve as two end tables when the apartment got crowded during large social gatherings. It is made up of multiple bent laminations (taking thin strips of wood and gluing them together to make a thicker piece that can then be more easily manipulated into a curved shape).
I wanted to play with the negative space of this piece, so I stacked the laminations on top of each other, with only a few spacers in between.
Over the next few weeks, I will post the progress and final pictures of this table.
This first photo is a full scale drawing of one of the "C" curves. Two "C" curves eventually fit together to form one "S" curve.
This table is made of Ash. I specifically selected very straight grained boards so that the table would have a cohesive look. I picked Ash because it is a very open-pored wood and the grain will stand out when finish was applied. I will point this out on one of the final pictures.
After the wood was cut into 3/16" thin strips, I then glued 9 strips to make 1 large bend. Below, you can see me gluing the strips and wrapping them with heavy duty stretch wrap (to help serve as a clamp) before putting them around my form. With 12 different sized bends on the taller table and 10 bends on the smaller one, I decided to built an adjustable bending table so that I could adjust the radius for each bend without having to build 12 different forms.
This was the process for just 1 bend. I did this 21 more times (ok, 22 more times...
After I took the bends out of the forms, I planed, scraped, and sanded them. After they were all complete, I stacked them to see if all my math had worked out...
I then started playing with the spacers to see where I would position them...
I made a template to create a continuous curve for the spacers (above). For each table, I glued one bend at a time, using several bends below it to serve as clamping pressure for the spacers.
Now the real fun began... using an angle grinder and then a lot of sandpaper, I shaped the continuous curve starting with the inside of each table first, and then the outside. Below is a picture after just a few passes of the angle grinder.
...you can see the transformation from blocky, angular forms to smooth, subtle curves.
The coffee table ("Through the Looking Glass") is complete. Here are the final steps in shaping and finishing and then some final shots :)
In the above photo, the right, smaller table has been completely shaped and sanded. The left, taller table has not. The two tables were designed to be different heights so that one piece of glass could fit inbetween the bends and the two glass tops would overlap.
Now the finishing process begins...
The excess liming wax was then scrubbed off with several coats of oil. Finally, polyurethane was applied to give a high gloss shine. This effect was a time-consuming process, but well worth the effort.
The tables can come together in a variety of ways, giving you the flexibility to customize the way they look. The lines and the negative space work well together, creating shadows that are just as unique as the tables themselves.
And the best photos of all... the ones of the table in Patrick's home. What a joy it was to deliver them, to set them up, and then to have a wonderful night of beer, games, laughs, and friends around them :)
ahhhh, finally the table is put to good use :)
**A special thanks to Amanda Lass for the amazing final photos of this piece. To see more of her photography, go to: http://alass.zenfolio.com/