June 2015 #218

Popular Woodworking Magazine June 2015 CoverOur cover story for the June 2015 issue explores the complexity of simplicity with an Asian-inspired sideboard by Geremy Coy, a woodworker based in Virginia. Coy, in his first article for Popular Woodworking Magazine, details how he used pale, straight-grained Spessart oak shaped with hand tools to form an elegantly proportioned cabinet filled with subtle details.

Speaking of simplicity, Don Williams shows you how you can use a few common tools to add striking metal accents to your work. Williams — a noted restoration expert who recently retired from the Smithsonian Institution — uses a rotary tool, wire and a tool made from a concrete nail in this innovative technique.

So what part of angle theta from baseline x, combined with theta (2) from baseline y, equals your resultant angle? I don’t either, but that’s OK — Christopher Schwarz has a great technique of using perspective, no trigonometry in sight, to set rake and splay for chairmaking and more.

Furniture that changes into something else often has a “z” and a “boy” somewhere in its name (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Brian Hubel has created a floating-top table with complex curves that seems to change its shape as you change your view — but it’s solid as a rock. This simple project develops your band saw skills with the compound cuts used in this build.

Light or heavy? You can’t defy gravity, but you can use a few design tricks to make your furniture seem lighter or more substantial. Darrell Peart analyzes the design of Greene & Greene’s Thorsen House sideboard and other pieces to show how Charles Greene used subtle details to lighten a substantial piece of furniture.

George Walker’s Design Matters explores the mystery of the cyma curve — a design element you see almost everywhere. Peter Follansbee discusses the plain matted chair, a humble form with a long history, in his Arts & Mysteries column. Bob Flexner, in “Flexner on Finishing,” lets you in on the most important tool for wood finishing and repair. (Hint: it’s between your ears.)

And Don Williams appears again this month in End Grain, revealing some of the secrets of the famed Studley tool cabinet.

Sideboard Fit for Tea

Design without compromise: An exercise in high-end handwork By Geremy Coy pages 24-31 Sometimes a cup of tea is more than a cup of tea. Its surface may be still, its color translucent and its container unadorned. But in a single sip of hot water, you can taste the time of year the...

Wired for Beauty

A rotary tool, hammer and a few shop-made tools are all it takes. by Don Williams pages 32-36 I recently had the opportunity to explore a concept that has been rattling around the dark recesses of my cranium for almost three decades. It was inspired first by a spectacular pair of curly...

Compound Angles; No Math

Once you understand ‘resultant’ angles, sawbenches (and chairs) are easy. by Christopher Schwarz pages 37-41 Most first-time chairmakers are intimidated by the compound joinery used to fasten all the legs, stretchers, spindles and arms. The truth is, it can be quite complicated if you try to figure out everything using trigonometry....

Floating Table

This handsome piece is simple to build and easily adapted to fit your stock. by Brian A. Hubel pages 42-48 A friend asked me to design and build a table using a special piece of walnut. I was given approximate measurements, but everything else was up to me. I love the freedom...

Gravity by Design

Small changes to details make a big difference. by Darrell Peart pages 49-54 Several years ago, I took a different approach to design – one that relies less upon ratios and mathematical formulas and more upon intuition and observation. I have written about this previously and have referred to it as...

Arts & Mysteries: Plain Matted Chairs

This humble form has a long legacy and modern descendants. by Peter Follansbee pages 58-61 In a recent column, I made reference to my initial foray into woodworking as a chairmaker. Post-and-rung, ladderback, slat-back – these chairs have lots of names in various places and in different periods. I learned how...

Design Matters: Secrets of the Cyma Curve

We might admire a graceful curve in nature without understanding what lends it a sense of spring and vitality. Small details can often make the difference between a curve that sings and one that just seems to plod along. If you’re like me, you may have reached for a coffee cup...

Earlex Steam Generator for Steam-bending

Steam-bending has always required a certain amount of jury-rigging to make the steam: adapting a propane burner, retrofitting a kettle or tweaking a wallpaper steamer. Now Earlex has made steam-bending a little easier by offering a steam generator that is simple to hook up to any steam box via a 1⁄2″-diameter...

Arbortech Contour Random Sander

I I’ve been building a stacked-lamination piece with plenty of concave and convex curves that require a good deal of sanding. Arbortech’s new Contour Random Sander has helped. Out of the bag, the sander includes everything you need – a metal stem containing two independently rotating shafts that produce the “random”...