Thursday, December 28, 2006

Night stand - design (post one)

One of the problems with an antique country Victorian bedroom set is that there simply aren't any night stands of the era - let alone something that might match what we have. We have used various stands beside the bed, but nothing looked very good, and we usually only had one so one person had the light and the clock. Now, we have a king size bed that is so tall it takes a running leap just to get in bed and everything is now too short. So, I'm going to make two matching night stands and I thought some of you might be interested in the process. I will start with the design, discuss the joinery, show the construction, assembly, and finishing. I will finish with a picture of Tammi, freshly torn from slumber, frantically beating the alarm clock against the top.

I am going to match these...

Both are oak and although similar, not exactly alike and not a set; therefore, the design elements will have to be taken from both pieces. Of course, as I said, the Victorians didn't really have night stands. I guess the fact that they didn't have alarm clocks and lamps may have something to do with that. So, whatever I come up with won't really have existed in the period, but hopefully you won't be able to tell. After several rough sketches I began in CAD and I ended up with this drawing.

(I don't know if you'll be able to see this - try clicking on it to open it up full size) This drawing shows the basic design without the joinery. I used the principle of the golden rectangle to come up with the overall dimensions and the entire front is divided into roughly thirds. The proportions are very important to the success of the design. Two drawers are at the top- the smaller one is on the top with the larger one below. Drawers generally get bigger as they go down. Two large "posts" frame the piece - each 11/2 inch square. Most of the rest of the elements are undersized to emphasize the height and keep it lite and not bulky. The top with be somewhat thicker so as to finish off the stand as older furniture looks. You might notice that all of the horizontal elements are sized for their location - larger on the bottom, small in the middle, and middle-sized at the top so the top appears to be resting on something substantial, but not too big.

What isn't shown is the joinery. I will mostly use mortise and tenon construction with dovetailed drawers. The doors and sides will be frame and panel construction with flat panels. The most important consideration in the joinery is wood movement.

Wood is anisotropic: its material properties are different along different dimensions. It is strong when stressed along the grain (longitudinally), but weak across it (radially and tangentially). It expands and contracts in response to humidity. This change is very small longitudinally. It is considerable, but unequal, in the radial and tangential directions.

I will talk about this next post.

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