Open Apron Nesting Tables #1: An Interesting Commission

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Last fall I entered my “Music” table in the Sidney Fine Arts Show on Vancouver Island and while it didn’t sell, it did attract a lot of attention. After the show a local woman contacted me and asked if I would build her a couple of little end tables. I said “sure” and the process began.

She brought me the pair of nesting end tables that she wanted to replace as an indicator of size and general design but she also showed me a photo of another set that she liked and wondered if I could do “something like that”.

The idea of an open apron was the point and she understood when I said I couldn’t actually copy someone else’s design. I also had serious doubts about the structural strength of the aprons and the fine, thin elements in the example so I drew up five alternatives and she chose the one she liked the best. Actually she loved it. That was nice.

With that out of the way I built a prototype to be sure it would all work and to let her see it in three dimensions.

She still liked it and it seemed remarkably strong so we went on to the next step, assembling the real thing out of Walnut. She wanted a very dark, near black look so I suggested ebonizing Walnut and topping them off with four way matched burl tops.

Here are some of the steps in thousand word segments. (including my first cabriole legs)

There was one glitch. Who knew that Walnut wasn’t as strong as Arbutus? The photo shows the short grain failure already re-glued. This was exactly what I didn’t like about the example tables and why I had done a prototype.

A few thousand words on the fix. The aprons are amazingly strong now and stood up to a lot of force when assembling the tables. The cross-bands only show in the very ends of the front/back aprons (from the top) and the ebonizing hides them completely.

That’s long enough for tonight. I’ll get on with the ebonizing an burl matching next time.

Thanks for looking in.


-- The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

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I see how cut the aprons.

just to make sure I am understanding correctly: The added piece looking like a boomerang at the end (4th picture from the bottom) is just to add strength where the short grain is present, right?

Great design with the open aprons. Closed ones would have looked bulky in my opinion.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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