Design Matters: The Star Chamfer

1511 DM Lead photoThis simple transition of surfaces helps place emphasis where you want it. 

by George R. Walker

page 18

Just a week into my machinist apprenticeship I felt, for the first time, the wrath of Big Red. He was the head inspector in the tool room and got the nickname for his fiery temper.

When angry, which was just about all the time, Red puffed up like a mad rooster that attacks with wings and spurs all aflutter. He took it personally when someone did sloppy work or made a mistake.

Out of nowhere, he slammed a chunk of steel on my workbench and slapped down a blueprint, pointing his bony finger at the oil-stained paper and then at the end of my nose. I didn’t know who he was or what he was mad about, but out of his mouth erupted a storm of profanity with the words “jackass” and “half-wit” used as punctuation.

After Red stormed off, I looked down at that blueprint and wondered if this apprenticeship thing was such a good idea. The old journeyman who ran the lathe next to mine leaned back, puffed his cigar and asked, “Kid, anyone ever tell you to chamfer the sharp corners on your work?”

Forty years later, I still break the sharp edges on my work with a small chamfer, regardless of whether it’s metal or wood. Unless something has a need for a sharp crisp edge, an exposed corner is trouble waiting in the wings.

Blog: Read more from George R. Walker on his Design Matters blog.
In Our Store: “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design” and “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design: Moldings,” George R. Walker’s DVDs.

From the November 2015 issue

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