Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sapele Console Table 1

4:30 PM Comments 1

Console Table – Ribbon Sapele Veneer

We recently began working on 9 different pieces of furniture for a local client and almost every piece is unique in its design and wood species.

The first piece I want to chronicle is a console table. This table will be sitting off to the side of the client’s hearth and will have a nice piece of glass artwork sitting on top. We began the design process by looking at some inspiration pieces, and after a few iterations, we settled on the design seen above.

The table is fairly simple in that it only has two pieces that need to be built and connected, but that is where the easy part ends and the complexity begins…

The table is veneered in ribbon Sapele and finished with a bright-rubbed conversion varnish.

We decided to tackle the top first. All the substrares are constructed from 3/4″ MDF. We chose MDF because it is perfectly flat, does not splinter when cut on sharp angles, and is a great surface on which to veneer.

For both the top and the base, we framed the MDF substrate with a solid banding of 3/4″ x 3/4″ Sapele. This will give the edges increased durability. If we did not add a solid wood edge, the sharp edge of the perimeter would be incredibly fragile, and would not hold up to many knocks from brooms or chairs before crushing.

Once we framed the top, we cut a middle support and, using the Festool Domino, glued it into place.

We modeled each piece individually in Google SketchUp to figure out angles and measurements. In the case of the top, the face had an angle of 33 degrees and the sides had an angle of 59 degrees.

With both the top and base, we decided not to compound angle the joints, but rather joined the face and side pieces using a butt joint and plenty of nails and screws. The effort of cutting the compound angles was not worth it, since it did not provide any foreseeable benefit.

Here is the base, with the 3/4″ Sapele trim around the base and the notch cut out of the top to accept the top assembly.

The angle of the face was 3.6 degrees and the angle of the sides is 21.3 degrees.

With both the top and the base constructed, we began the veneering process. We have a 5’x12′ veneer bag that made the process relatively painless,  though time consuming.

We had 9 pieces of veneer to glue on. Most of them had to be pressed individually, which took 3 hours in the bag and a few more outside the bag to fully cure.

Even with all the crazy angles and faces, we were able to use a platen on the bottom and a platen on the angled face to achieve perfectly veneered surfaces!