You can also view my gallery at Designs en Bois.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Completed shaker table - one woodworkers progression in the craft

Let me start out by explaining that my goal of one blog post per week, which at one time I felt was ambitious, has turned out to be too infrequent for me to keep up with the volume of video I've been shooting. I guess on one hand that means I've been busy in the shop, but unfortunately I'm falling behind in editing. In reviewing the remaining video for the cherry shaker table, I realized most of the remaining techniques have been covered before in previous entries or by the other folks also blogging about their shaker table projects. So I decided to skip to the end so I can start getting out some of the great new stuff I have on my latest project, a six leg huntboard.

This episode shows the final completed project, but with a twist. I had the cherry table up in my main hall where it would get ample sun and get those cherry tannins in high gear. I noticed a stark contrast against an earlier project I completed (that also resides in said hallway). So this episode concentrates on how the combination of tools, techniques, and skills as they evolve have a fairly profound impact on the quality of your woodworking. This is a lot of me just talking, but hopefully folks will find it interesting, and can see a parallel in how they've progressed over the years as well. I found it to be simultaneously humbling and rewarding to see how far I've come in just a few years.

9 comments:

Paul said...

Thanks for your latest blog/podcast. The Shaker end table is very nicely proportioned. Well done. From here the cherry grain looks like the pictures spacecraft have sent back of Jupiter.

Regards,

Paul
Western Australia

Guy said...

Nice video Rob. Being extremly new to woodworking myself, with really only a constructional back ground as well and only completing 1 (I guess) real piece of furniture so far. what are some of the things you would have done differently to get you to the point that you are at now. Anything that you might suggest a new woodworker do on his own path.

Guy

Rob Bois said...

Guy, that is indeed a good question (and probably one that warrants its own blog post). But I'd say if there was one thing I would do differently is save up to buy the best tools I could afford instead of making compromises. I replaced a jointer and a table saw in a period of just two years because I outgrew them too quickly. It can be hard to predict though what path you eventually go down but I've never regretted spending more for a better tool. But I will keep this question in mind for a longer future post, I think it's a great question.

Brian Turner said...

Rob, nice job on the shaker table. I enjoyed this comparision video. I've been involved in woodworking for the past 6 years or so and started in a similar way. I still have the first endtables I made and they too were made out of red oak, plywood top with solid trim, a bottom fixed shelf, and even a faux drawer. All lumber bought from Lowes. How far we've come, huh? I built along with everyone else on the shaker table using birdseye Maple from Bell Forest. I have gone about 90% handtools only. Which as you know can be an adventure with birdseye. Tapering the legs with nothing more then a LN 5 1/2, #4 Smoothing, and adjustable mouth block plane. I even decided to arch the drawer front & bottom rail. I got interuppted in completing the project with some paying side work but now that's done so I can finish dovetailing my drawer and get it wrapped up compeletly. Keep up the good work!

Vic Hubbard said...

The table turned out very well, Rob. Great question from Guy. I know the guys in the chat question that I've spent so much time getting set up and not actually building pieces. I really believe it has and will pay off with a much faster learning curve. Because of people like yourself, Nabil, Marc and many others I know what level of detail I'm shooting for and know if I take my time, will be able to achieve that goal. Thanks again for a really great post.

Morton said...

Rob - awesome. That's about the summary of my comparison to some earlier pieces, but I'm probably still a couple of years behind where you are right now - but I'm trying to catch up!! :)

It's interesting you mention having the right tools, as so often we hear "it's not the tool that makes you better". I'm coming to question that statement. Of course, as a woodworker your skills need to progress, but having access to certain tools not only makes things faster, they can come out looking better.

Keep it up!

Rob Bois said...

Morton, that is an interesting comment about it not being the tool that makes you better. I believe that statement is true to a certain degree, but if you don't have a tool that matches the quality of the work you want to do, you will always be limited. For example if you have a cheap jointer that can't actually edge joint square, it doesn't matter how good your skills are, you will always be limited.

Rob Horton said...

Lovely how the cherry table turned out and certainly a wild ride to see one's latest effort side by side with something from years back. Yours is positively elegant, though, compared to some of my first tries, some of which included stuff like 1/2" EMT and 1/4" all-thread...

One other thing to add on the topic of proportions and that's the aprons. The heating register table's aprons are far too narrow. Even without a drawer, the eye still wants something stronger there, whereas the cherry table seems just right.

Quick question, though: Why the dig against dowels? I could understand turning up one's nose at pocket screws or metal corner cleats, but what's wrong with solid wood dowels? They're plenty strong and certainly require a bit of skill to get exact.

Rob Bois said...

Rob, good observation on the aprons, they are too narrow both from a visual perspective, and also from a structural standpoint. Wider aprons mean wider tenons, and more glue surface. As for my comment about dowels, I would certainly rank dowel joints above pocket screws or brads. I use them quite a bit for face frames, and to your point they do require some skill to align. However, I don't believe they are an adequate joint for something like a table leg. They are simply too short, and lack the glue surface of either a floating tenon (like a Domino) or an integral tenon. Lots of trade rags have done joint strength tests, and usually the dowel joints finish somewhere in the middle of the pack, well behind mortise and tenon. If you subscribe to Fine Woodworking online, here is a great article that shows how dowel joints pack only about half the strength of M&T joints.
http://www.finewoodworking.com/FWNPDF/011203036.pdf