Wednesday, February 27, 2013

a george the third dining table

well, ok.  i've been putting this one off for a while, i've been kind of taking a little blog vacation for a week or so while trevor moved this project along.  it's a new version of the table above that we built back in 1991.

this is a close up of the original edge inlay on that table.  it had a triple band of ebony, a double band of birds eye maple, and an outside band of zebra wood.  the original table we made using about 30 detailed photos with measurements that our client took while he was visiting england.  he did a great job showing the details and we had everything we needed once we figured out how to do the many, many, individual steps.  so, since i didn't take many notes originally, this time i thought i would document the process, just in case there is a next time in another 20 years or so.  by that time, my memory will most likely be completely shot.  click the photos to enlarge them.
these clients wanted a smaller, simpler, version, 42 x 84, with no leaves (fortunately), and a simplified edge detail, so this new table was a little simpler.
incredibly, i had the original jig i made to flatten the turnings where the 'legs' join the turning and cut the dovetails for the joinery.  we even found all of the original (dull by now) bits we used.  having the jig was a great first step, but recollecting how exactly to use it fell mostly to trevor to figure out.

the first step shown here was the use the big straight bit to cut the flats.
next was a smaller, longer straight bit to hog out most of the dovetails.
finally. the dovetail cut itself, cut in one straight pass.  trevor used a couple of different router bases so he could leave the stops set the same in each case. he then put the dovetail bit in the router table and machined the tails on the legs to fit the routed slots above ... i missed photographing that set up ..
above are the rough assembled finished pedestals with their top caps that give the pedestal its stability when they are attached to the table top.
but first we had to shape the top edges, which involved several steps and set ups.

the first cuts involved making some holders and using a bearing on the top to guide the shop made cutter (found that too) i made back in 1991.  amazing.  this is all so NOT a testimony to my organization skills, but rather our extreme and deep good luck.  you know ... "lead a good life and the rest falls into place" is a saying that pops into my mind for some reason here ...
second step after the center shaping involved this other shop made cutter ... found that one too !
third step ... a hand held router with a round over bit and a non standard bearing ... lucky we had one that did the job ...
and tah dah ... good to go.
 on to the top ...

we had ordered a nice long and wide board (23" x 15') from our friends at irion lumber and it arrived flat as a pancake, with a modest, consistent grain, something the clients requested.  all good.
surfaced flat on one side on the cnc, run through the wide belt sander, jointed and planed and glued up
now this is a total luxury i did not have back in 1991, our cnc router to cut the top with its rounded corners to shape. hmmm, looks like i missed a photo of the edge beading bit ... we had to order that one and i can't find the exact bit on line, but it looks like this one except there are no flats between the beads and the bit comes to sharp points between the beads .. i think it took just one pass to get it looking like the photo of the edge detail below.
by cutting into the spoil board an 1/8th" or so when he made the first cut to shape, trevor was able to replace the top exactly in the same spot on the cnc after he ran the edge beads. he then cut the rabbet for the burl and walnut edge on the top, a much simpler detail than the original table.

here's our sample edge detail we sent a photo of to the clients for approval.

setting the 'max depth' for routing the rabbet for the edge pieces.
good to go.  if you're still with me, hang on, there's still a ways to go ...
start with the 1/8th inch walnut string, glued and held tightly against the edge of the cut with headed brads that are removed once the glue sets.
next, add the 1 and 5/8ths" wide, 1/6th" thick burl pieces, all about 3" wide, one at a time, taping and clamping as you go ... the burl and walnut radiused corner pieces trevor also cut on the cnc.  it gave him a good, humbling respect for the old 18th century guys working with hand tools by candlelight.
home stretch
all done, ready for final scraping and sanding after the round cornered aprons are attached.  more on that detail later ...
well, trevor's dovetails fit nicely, but we still like to clamp stuff when we glue it up.
so we devised this 'glue up jig' and cut it on the cnc from a cast off spoil board, which is the sacrificial mdf top under what you are cutting on the cnc .. cast off spoil boards are great for jigs and stuff ... this is one cool object that we're planning to do something with when we are done gluing the pedestals.

holes all the way through at the ends of the legs for clever wedges, made on the sander, to tighten things up ...
i know i didn't have this figured out first time through in 1991.
set it up and check it for level and plumb on the table saw after wedging and clamping it ... more tomorrow.  you need a break by now, and so do i ...

finished table below .. click the photo to enlarge it
all done !!

Friday, February 15, 2013

all the pretty pool tables

i've been making pool tables now since about 1989 .... hmmm almost 25 years?  seems like a blink.  i was first captivated by pool in high school, at the bowling alley, at Fry's, the luncheonette with two pool tables 'in the back', one for an open 9 ball game (50 cents and a dollar) and one for the 'old men' to play one pocket on.  high chairs to watch too.  there was also another 8 table room on the second floor above woolworth's where we hung out and played games to 25 or 50 for 'time'.  loser paid for the table time.  i got hooked by the geometry, the skill building, the camaraderie and pool hall culture.  and, in one of my fondest high school memories, my father, who was also good with a stick, took me into 'the city' to play at Allinger's, the famous philly pool room where they still had girls come around and rack your balls up and a pretty fair sized gallery section to watch the action on the hot tables.  it was something.  but i digress ... the table above was a redo of an old brunswick table i bought with peeling veneer and a broken leg.  i was making it for my boys, but a client (for the second time) bought the table as i was working on it.  click the photos to enlarge them.

the table above, with claro walnut rails by will and a steel frame by sam is one of our latest.  finished last fall and shipped to chicago.  more pictures and info here. 
10/7/17 ... we've made 5 versions of this design now
side view, in the shop

this one was for a special client, back in 2003.  they were building a large barn/party/entertainment building and we got to make the pool table and a large kas style tv cabinet.  i'm doing some work there now and it's great to revisit this stunning space.  we received a design award from custom woodworking business magazine for it in 2005.  there is a video of how this table plays at this link.  i hope to get better at this video thing as time goes on, but it gives you an idea of how the table plays.
and here we have our first attempt at acquiring a pool table in about 1989.  this one was in rough shape when i bought it for $500. and i had to make new curly maple rails, new legs, and strip the peeling veneer off the body and paint it,  but it was worth the effort, though that one sold too before i finished it.
the 'mark of zorro', table a version of my original beidermeier inspired table

then we got into our 'arts and crafts' era.  this one's mahogany with burl accents and i wish i had a better picture of it ... it also had a nice wood frame light above it inspired by the brother's green and i know i have a picture of it somewhere.  also 2003.
and this one, yet again the same year (it was a VERY good year), a little fancier with some baseball inspired motifs on the legs and some fabulous quilted maple panels ... i'm planning a visit to as many of these tables as possible to take videos of them in action.  they all play great.
simpler version of the same style ... 2012 ... more photos here
and then in the 2004/2005 ea, we had a short 3 edition run of these vertical grain fir tables.  simple, direct, effective, and they all went in spectacular rooms with lots of windows.  stratton mountain, vermont above ...
weston, vermont ...
and finally, greenwich, ct
and then our next diversion/trend was for some 'post and beam' style tables.   this one was for a builder friend who made the base and leveled it up, we just did the slate work and built the rails and the did the cushions and felt work ... 
 this one came next in 2009 and it went to martha's vineyard.  will and i took it down one crystal clear january weekend ... i never saw the vineyard quiet like that.  we felt like we owned the place.  the blog post about this one is in my list of  'popular posts' off to the right there.  that post can get you started if you are interested in building your own pool table. 
and this is our latest version of the 'post and beam' style.  we delivered that one to sugarbush, vt just last december and here is a link to a video of it in action ... more video links to follow soon i hope.
now we're looking forward to our next commission, which is in manchester.  that project will be an older table that has lost its slate (somehow).  we've ordered some new slate and when it comes, we'll set up the base, refelt the rails and cushions and set that one up in a spectacular recently remodeled home.  more on that later.

pool .. i love it.  i think i'll go to my man cave and shoot a few racks right now ...
man cave with my modestly 'restored' 1915 brunswick balke-collender pool table.  after selling the first two attempts to get a pool table for myself, i decided to not make this one too fancy so no one would buy it.  it almost sold once, but i talked the clients into a new table, and i still have the one above in my cellar today.
sam and will, (now 30 and 28), on the day of the original set up in our previous home.  this was in the very early 90's i think. no date on the photo and that period of our lives was pretty much a blur.