Torii series side chair

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Torii series side chair in Pennsylvania cherry with a water-based finish. The seat cushion is upholstered in leather. The backrest design is similar to the curved beam atop of a torii, (Japanese name: kasagi).

Here is another view. The woods outside the shop offer a break from setting up all the photo studio equipment in the shop.

 

Open Studio & Spring Sale, May 27 – 28

Here’s a chance for substantial savings on my studio furniture. These are floor models, samples and furniture I have used in shows. Everything his new – just built a year or two ago. You can also inquire about new custom furniture in the styles and designs you like. The studio is open from 10 am to 5 pm, and there is plenty of parking. Search for Hayama Cabinetmakers on Google to open a handy map to my studio and shop in South Newfane.

A pair of cantilevered chairs and side table in black walnut

The two chairs and table are made from American black walnut, and the group makes a nice accent to any room. The chair runners slide easily on carpet. The side table features knock-down joinery and can be completely disassembled. Even so, it is very strong and stable. The chair seat cushions are upholstered in leather. Price for the group: $1,200, (a 35% savings)

 

Tansu style storage chest in Pennsylvania cherry. 53(H) x 37(W) x 19(D)

This tansu chest features two generous storage areas, and the top one is fitted with a curved shelf. The doors slide silently left and right, and lift out, if needed. The back is finished in frame and panel cherry, so the cabinet could be used as part of a furniture group in the middle of the room. All the cherry frames and panels are carefully matched from the same wood stock. Price: $4680, (a 40% savings)

A tansu-inspired chest with generous storage behind the two sliding doors, and featuring thru-tenons fastened with wedges. The chest can be completely disassembled as shown in a previous blog post. 55(L) x 20(W) x 18(H). 

This chest can be used as a bench and seats two people comfortably. There is ample storage accessed through the two sliding doors. The chest is constructed with thru-tenons, and can be completely disassembled, and stored flat. The back is finished. The frame and panels are sourced from the same wood stock. Price $3,400 (a 30% savings)

Cantilevered side chair in Pennsylvania cherry

This chair goes well with any decor. The seat cushion is upholstered in navy blue leather.  Price: $500, (a 30% savings)

Japanese style tea table in cherry, 50(L) x 38(W) x 14(H). Price $1100, a 50% savings

This tea table sits four people comfortably. Zabuton, Japanese cushions, are often used for seating, and are widely available in America as well.

 

 

 

Joining two halves of a slab with sliding dovetails

Here’s a follow-up to my earlier blog entry, Planing a Slab. In that post, I flatten one side of a slab using hand planes and winding sticks to guide the planing effort. Now it’s time to rip the slab in half and then join the halves with sliding dovetails. This joining technique requires no glue, is incredibly strong, keeps the two halves in perfect alignment, and can add extraordinary  visual interest.

A black walnut slab made for a buffet sideboard. The slab has been ripped in half and joined with sliding dovetails.

A black walnut slab made for a buffet sideboard. The slab has been ripped in half and joined with sliding dovetails.

The reverse side of the slab showing the sliding dovetail system used to join the halves.

The reverse side of the slab showing the sliding dovetail system used to join the halves.

On the reverse, you can see the completed sliding dovetails. The position of each one corresponds to the support rails on the buffet sideboard base. Now, on to how to construct it.

Using a chalk line, snap a line along along the grain, butt end to butt end, of the slab. This line does not have bisect the slab equally, and it provides a visual reference for ripping the slab on the table saw.

Now make a sled out of 3/4″ plywood about  3″ wider than the slab and a foot longer. On this sled, snap another chalk line bisecting the sled along the long axis. This provides a reference line for lining up the chalk line on the slab. Align the slab on the sled and fasten wood blocks to the plywood to firmly hold the slab in place. If the slab is still a little loose, use wooden wedges to secure it snugly to the plywood sled. Adjust the table saw fence to cut along the chalk line. The plywood sled rides against the fence; the slab should be an inch or more away from the fence. Raise the saw blade to make the cut in one pass. With a  2″  slab riding on a 3/4″ plywood sled, the blade will be raised 3″ or more – a very dangerous set up! So, I do myself a favor – actually four favors: (1) use a very sharp blade; (2) use the blade guard; (3)  use a long outfeed table; and (4) have someone assist me on the outfeed side. It’s much safer to use a bandsaw if your bandsaw has sufficient throat clearance.

Here's a black walnut slab which I have ripped in half on the table saw.

Here’s a black walnut slab which I have ripped in half on the table saw.

Ten fingers, ten toes! All humor aside, here’s the slab with the completed rip cut.

Using the jointer to square up the edge after ripping the slab in two. One light pass over the cutterhead is enough.

Using the jointer to square up the edge after ripping the slab in two. One light pass over the cutterhead is enough.

One pass on the jointer will clean up the saw marks from the table saw, after which you can hand plane the edge smooth after cutting the dovetails.

Positioning one half of the slab on the base to mark the locations for the sliding dovetails,

Positioning one half of the slab on the base to mark the locations for the sliding dovetails.

This slab rides on a black walnut cantilevered base. Mark the locations for the dovetail cuts corresponding to the locations of the three supports.

The cut line centered on the support arm on the table base.

The cut line centered on the support arm on the table base.

Preparing to cut the sliding dovetails. Note the two spacers which keep the two sides of the slab in parallel alignment.

Preparing to cut the sliding dovetails. Note the two spacers which keep the two sides of the slab in parallel alignment.

Place the slab on the workbench and insert two spacer pieces thick enough to provide clear and safe access for the router bits.

Position the guides to cut the sliding dovetails.

Position the guides to cut the sliding dovetails.

Make wooden guides and true them up on the jointer.

Use a shop-made jig to set the tool guides, in this case, one half the diameter of the router base.

Use a shop-made jig to set the tool guides, in this case, one half the diameter of the router base.

Make a jig, in this case a simple wooden spacer, with a width equal to the radius of the router base.

Clamp the tool guides by running the spacer jig back and forth to achieve parallelism. Tap the guides gently with a wooden mallet as needed and then tighten the clamps.

Clamp the tool guides by running the spacer jig back and forth to achieve parallelism. Tap the guides gently with a wooden mallet as needed and then tighten the clamps.

On the cut guide lines, mark where to stop the cut. It’s better just to make a pencil line rather than to use tape, as tape can interfere with the travel of the router base.

Select two routers with the same size base.

Select two routers with the same size base.

Using two routers of the same make and model can take a lot of the guesswork out of this process. One will be fitted with a straight bit and the other with a dovetail bit. These are heavy duty router bits and very sharp.

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Set the straight router bit to half the final depth (about 12mm or 1/2″), and make all six initial cuts. Then set the straight bit and dovetail bit to the finished depth and test this on a piece of scrap wood. Then rout out the waste, first with the straight bit, then with the dovetail bit to complete the cuts.

The finished sliding dovetail cuts. (The wood waste and dust has been magically removed!)

The finished sliding dovetail cuts. (The wood waste and dust have been magically removed!)

Here’s a view of the finished sliding dovetails.

The completed dovetail cut.

The completed dovetail cut.

Here’s a close-up view of the completed dovetail cut.  A note on parallelism: No matter how careful one is, there will be some misalignment among the three cuts. All error is additive, and this turns out to be a good thing. As this joint is not glued, a one degree total parallel alignment error adds tension as the two halves are brought together, ensuring a strong and stable joint.

A view of the sliding dovetail which is fitted into the corresponding dovetails cut into both halves of the slab.

A view of the sliding dovetail which is fitted into the corresponding dovetails cut into both halves of the slab.

In another blog, I’ll cover how to make the other half of the sliding dovetail. In the meantime…

A closer look at the ebony butterfly key insert across a gap in the wood near the butt end. The insert is 25 mm (about 1") in depth.

A closer look at the ebony butterfly key insert across a gap in the wood near the butt end. The insert is 25 mm (about 1″) in depth.

…this slab was air dried and is about 15 years old, so it has stopped moving. Still, the butterfly key provides a counterpoint to the unusual grain pattern in the other half of the slab.

A black walnut slab made for a buffet sideboard. The slab has been ripped in half and joined with sliding dovetails.

A black walnut slab made for a buffet sideboard. The slab has been ripped in half and joined with sliding dovetails.

Here’s the completed slab again.

The road up to my cabinet shop on a brisk October morning.

The road up to my cabinet shop on a brisk October morning.

My favorite time of year up here in Vermont, and thank you for visiting my blog!

 

An outdoor bench near Llanrhystud, Wales

I came across this small bench near Llanrhystud, along the coast of Wales. It has withstood the elements for many years and is fastened with wedged thru tenons and a few wooden pegs.

A handmade outdoor bench at a bus stop near Llanrhystud, Wales. It is dedicated to the memory of a local resident who died some fifty years ago.

A handmade outdoor bench at a bus stop near Llanrhystud, Wales. It is dedicated to the memory of a local resident who died some fifty years ago.

The bench features thru-tenons held in place with wedges. None of the joints are glued and there is no metal hardware.

The bench features thru-tenons held in place with wedges. None of the joints are glued and there is no metal hardware.

Here's a view of the thru tenons and wedges for the backrest. Note how the cabinetmaker cut the armrest to take advantage of the extra support provided by the wedge.

Here’s a view of the thru tenons and wedges for the backrest. Note how the cabinetmaker cut the armrest to take advantage of the extra support provided by the wedge.

A view of the left side, showing the thru tenons and wedges for the seat.

A view of the left side, showing the thru tenons and wedges for the seat.

Thanks for visiting my blog at Hayama Cabinetmakers, LLC.

 

Gladstone’s Library: a cabinetmaker’s perspective

I thought it might be interesting to look at the library from a cabinetmaker’s viewpoint, and here are some pictures and notes.

Gladstone's Library, Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales.

Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales.

William Gladstone (1809–1898), was a British Liberal statesman and politician and served as Prime Minister four times. He funded the building of this library in 1895, and his family completed construction in 1906. Originally named St. Deiniol’s Library, it is Britain’s largest residential library and is located in Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales. I have the good fortune to spend a week here. The library is in the wing on the left, while the rest of the building contains offices, guest rooms, a lounge, dinning room and kitchen.

Main entrance to the library.

Main entrance to the library.

“Adiuvet Deus Misericors.” This is the inscription carved in stone over the entrance of Gladstone’s Library: “Merciful God, help us”. This massive door is made from English oak and features iron fasteners, latches, locks and strap hinges.  On the left hand side, you can see the vertically mounted letter slot.

A partial view of the mezzanine which wraps around the ground floor and of the roof support framing.

A partial view of the mezzanine which wraps around the ground floor and of the roof support framing.

The library’s interior is constructed largely of English oak, and much of it is quarter sawn. This provides greater dimensional stability than flat sawn lumber. Quarter sawn oak reveals a grain pattern unique to oak and was popularized by the Arts and Crafts movement furniture which flourished between between 1880 – 1910.

The roof is supported by post and beam framing. Here's is a view of the collar ties (the engraved horizontal frame members) and the arched braces, which are joined and bolted together.

The roof is supported by post and beam framing. Here’s is a view of the collar ties (the engraved horizontal frame members) and the arched braces, which are joined and bolted together.

The library has two levels: a full first floor and a second floor mezzanine built around the four sides with the center open to below. Today, the post and beam framing remains a popular construction option for houses as well as barns.

In this view, you can see the post, arched braces, collar and purlin, the longitudinal, horizontal member which supports the roof.

In this view, you can see the post, arched braces, collar and purlin, the longitudinal, horizontal member which supports the roof.

The construction relies on liberal use of mortise and tenon joinery to connect frame members. The arches shown feature a simple scarf joint and gain additional strength from the iron bolts fastened thru and thru. Constructing the arch from two pieces rather than one means there is more straight grain wood in the area of greatest weakness.

A view of the stairs from the ground floor to the mezzanine.

A view of the stairs from the ground floor to the mezzanine.

The wrap-around stairs are built into the corners and save space.  The only metal fasteners used in construction tie the treads and risers together and are visible on the underside of the staircase. The rope railing adds a nautical touch.

A closer look at the stair framing.

A closer look at the stair framing.

Each of these arch supports was cut by hand, then cleaned up with a spokeshave and a plane to achieve the correct angles.

One of the many library fireplaces.

One of the many library fireplaces.

For safety reasons, the fireplaces are no longer used, though they provide a decorative touch. This one features an oak mantle, marble insert , firebrick facing and cast iron open firebox.

A close-up view of a cabinet door above the fireplace mantle. The star pattern in the thru relief carving shows up in many places in the library.

A close-up view of a cabinet door above the fireplace mantle. The star pattern in the thru relief carving shows up in many places in the library.

The relief carving of the scrolls contains tool marks which provide ample evidence of  the  considerable amount handwork which went into it.

A door to one of the reading rooms. This one leads to the library's collection of books about Islam.

A door to one of the reading rooms. This one leads to the library’s collection of books about Islam.

The doors feature frame and panel construction and the frame members all feature a grooving pattern repeated throughout the library. The doors frames are integrated with the wainscoting. This door swings open and closed without a sound.

A view of a service entrance door next to a stairwell featuring framed paneling.

A view of a service entrance door next to a stairwell featuring framed paneling.

In the door panels, you can see the characteristic highlights revealed in quarter sawn oak. The spring closer is a modern touch.

An interior view of another entry door fitted in a stone frame.

An interior view of another entry door fitted in a stone frame.

This is another oak door with a large and ornate locking mechanism.

Gladstone's Library has a large Shakespeare collection. Here's the title page of an interesting book published in 1838.

Gladstone’s Library has a large Shakespeare collection. Here’s the title page of an interesting book published in 1838.

I am pretty sure this one is out of print, and to tell you the truth, until I chanced upon this slender volume, I had never considered Shakespeare’s use of insects in his plays. Quite a fascinating perspective!

Thank you for visiting my blog at Hayama Cabinetmakers.

 

 

Planing a slab

I hand plane slabs to get the first side flat. A scrub plane does quick work, as does a jointer plane.

Flattening a walnut slab

Flattening a walnut slab

The work goes quickly using winding sticks to guide the planing effort.

Using a jack plane to flatten one side of a slab

Using a jack plane to flatten one side of a slab

By planing the high spots across the grain and frequently sighting over the winding sticks, the work progresses.

Three winding sticks provide a good reference to gauge progress

Three winding sticks provide a good reference to gauge progress

Planing across the grain makes fast work to achieve a flat surface

Planing across the grain makes fast work to achieve a flat surface

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Here’s the slab with the remaining high spots highlighted with white chalk. There’s also one deep cup just below the center – that area that looks a little yellow.

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Applying  a little white chalk to the leading edges of the winding sticks makes it easier to judge progress in flattening this side

Applying a little white chalk to the leading edges of the winding sticks makes it easier to judge progress in flattening this side

Almost done! This was about three hours of work. No noise, no dust, no safety issues – and I can listen to the stereo. With one side dead flat, I can run the slab through my planer to get the second side flat and parallel with the first side.

This side is now flat except for a small cup which will come out with machine planing.

This side is now flat except for a small cup which will come out with machine planing.

Thanks for visiting the Hayama Cabinetmakers blog.

Cheers

 

 

Japanese style tansu bench with knock down joinery

Tansu is a Japanese word for furniture cabinet, and I like to make this piece using knock down joinery. With knock down joinery, the whole case can be assembled and disassembled by one person and without tools. The Japanese style adheres closely to the idea that form follows function, as well as understated design and careful attention to proportion and line. The following pictures will take you through the assembly steps, beginning with a bit of cabinetmaker humor.

From chaos to order: the tansu bench deconstructed. Here are all the components, including rails, side panels, doors and more.

From chaos to order: the tansu bench deconstructed. Here are all the components, including rails, side panels, doors and more.

 

To assemble the tansu I connect the two lower rails with the center connector. They are joined with mortise and tenon, but no glue.

To assemble the tansu I connect the two lower rails with the center connector. They are joined with mortise and tenon, but no glue.

 

The right shelf panel slides into grooves cut on the inside faces of the rails.

The right shelf panel slides into grooves cut on the inside faces of the rails.

Next, the thru tenons on the lower rails are positioned in line with the lower mortises in the right side panel.

Next, the thru tenons on the lower rails are positioned in line with the lower mortises in the right side panel.

The tenons on the lower rail assembly slide easily into the mortises.

The tenons on the lower rail assembly slide easily into the mortises.

Here's a closer view of the thru tenon and mortise. The rabbeted edges of the panel are housed in the grooves in the rails with enough extra space to permit seasonal wood movement.

Here’s a closer view of the thru tenon and mortise. The rabbeted edges of the panel are housed in the grooves in the rails with enough extra space to permit seasonal wood movement.

The upper rails are joined with a connector in the same way.

The upper rails are joined with a connector in the same way.

The top panel is shown fitted into the upper rails.

The top panel is shown fitted into the upper rails.

Both sets of rails with the right side panels inserted are fitted into the mortises on the right side panel.

Both sets of rails with the right side panels inserted are fitted into the mortises on the right side panel.

Here's a close-up view of the thru tenon and mortise on the upper rail.

Here’s a close-up view of the thru tenon and mortise on the upper rail.

Next, the center support post is fitted into the top and bottom rail connectors without glue. Placing the center support post inside the cabinet eliminates the need for a visible supports attached to the upper and lower rails and ensures there is no deflection of the rails when people sit down on the bench.

Next, the center support post is fitted into the top and bottom rail connectors without glue. Placing the center support post inside the cabinet eliminates the need for a visible supports attached to the upper and lower rails and ensures there is no deflection of the rails when people sit down on the bench.

Now the top and bottom panels on the left are in place.

Now the top and bottom panels on the left are in place.

The back, which is a frame and panel construction, slides into place.

The back, which is a frame and panel construction, slides into place.

Here is the left side panel fitted to the thru tenons on all four rails.

Here is the left side panel fitted to the thru tenons on all four rails.

This is another view of the side panel being fitted to the thru tenons on the four rails.

This is another view of the side panel being fitted to the thru tenons on the four rails.

This is a view of the assembled bench. Note the mortises in the thru tenons where the tusks are to be inserted.

This is a view of the assembled bench. Note the mortises in the thru tenons where the tusks are to be inserted.

Here is the complete chest with the sliding doors in place and the tusks inserted in the thru tenons. This makes for an incredibly strong joint that holds the case square though all manner of use.

Here is the complete chest with the sliding doors in place and the tusks inserted in the thru tenons. This makes for an incredibly strong joint that holds the case square though all manner of use.

 

This is another view of the thru tenon with the tusk in place.

This is another view of the thru tenon with the tusk in place.

This is a view of the back of the tansu. The frame and panel construction of the rear panel is both strong and lightweight. With a finished back, this tansu can be used in a furniture grouping in the middle of a room.

This is a view of the back of the tansu. The frame and panel construction of the rear panel is both strong and lightweight. With a finished back, this tansu can be used in a furniture grouping in the middle of a room.

Here's the finished tansu bench, 55"(W) x 17"(H) x 20"(D).  The doors slide in grooves and lift out as needed. It takes about fifteen minutes to assemble. No tools.

Here’s the finished tansu bench, 55″(W) x 17″(H) x 20″(D). The doors slide in grooves and lift out as needed. It takes about fifteen minutes to assemble. No tools.

 

So, there you have it. A versatile tansu bench with generous storage. It works well in the entry area of a house, at the foot of the bed or as a table in front of a sofa. The natural finish allows the cherry to darken over time and to develop a rich patina.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

 

 

 

Using a rabbet plane

A rabbet plane makes quick work of sizing a panel to fit snugly in the frame. The panel is not glued so it can expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. This Japanese rabbet plane works on the pull stroke.

A Japanese rabbet plane

A Japanese rabbet plane

Underside of a rabbet plane showing the adjustable fence.

Underside of a rabbet plane showing the adjustable fence.

A rabbet plane makes quick work of sizing the panel so it fits snugly in the frame.

A rabbet plane makes quick work of sizing the panel so it fits snugly in the frame.

This is a view of the panel inserted in the frame.

This is a view of the panel inserted in the frame.