I’ve read the book, a couple of times. Wrote a review. Read through all of the blog posts. Purchased a tapered tenon cutter and reamer. Even took a sip of the Kool-Aid, at least figuratively. I have to admit that I’m a little more than intrigued by the ideas and methods presented in Christopher Schwarz’ (CS) new book, “The Ancharchist’s Design Book”. The only thing left for me to do is to jump in and actually put those ideas and methods into practice.
If you have subjected yourself to my adventures in the past, you may remember the Hillbilly Hobby Tansu project. The original idea was that the tansu would find a resting place on top of a chest or it would nestle onto a shelf. Since the big move however, the tansu has sat unceremoniously in a corner of the living room floor. It does spark up conversation with visitors but it drives me a little crazy having it on the floor. So for some time now I have been contemplating some sort of stand. Nothing really jelled until CS staked furniture methods came along. Using the staked furniture idea I realized that I could build a stand that could also serve as a stool and even a work table. Don’t get too excited, this is just a slab of wood with four legs drive into it. Hopefully with a bit of elegance though and even a small nod to Mid-Century Modern.
In his book, CS recommends 8/4 poplar for the slab tops and 6/4 – 8/8 oak for legs. He says that these bits of wood should be easy to obtain from any decent lumber yard. Either I don’t have any decent lumber yards around me or I looking in the wrong places. I’m out to a 60 mile radius and still no luck. That is OK though. I have always been committed to building my projects from materials that I can obtain from the home center and I still hold to that commitment.
I can get all of the southern yellow pine I want at the local home center. It’s plenty strong, but 1-1/2″ thick is the max on thickness. So I decided to buy a 2×12 and cut it into 2″ wide strips. Then I face glued those to create the slab that I needed. So my slab is a rough 2″x10″x18″.
While the home center does sell 1-1/2″ squares of red oak, they are spendy. It is actually much cheaper to order turning squares and have them shipped to the house. I have had a large timber of oak knocking around for a few years now that I salvaged from a packing crate at work. The legs for this little project were sawn out of that salvaged timber.
The legs started out as 1-1/2″ squares. I then tapered them down to 1″ inch at the foot end. The tapered blanks were then transformed into octagons.
I purchased the recommended Veritas 5/8″ tapered tenon cutter and the pro reamer. CS actually recommends the basic large reamer because it can be used in a drill press. Since I don’t own, nor plan to own, a drill press, the pro reamer will work perfectly for me. Plus the cutter is removable. So it will be easier to sharpen.
To create the tapered tenons, I first marked the length with a gauge.
Second step was to mark a 5/8″ circle on the end of the blank.
Third I roughed in the taper with a spokeshave while daydreaming of having a drawknife.
Fourth, a test fit into the Veritas tenon cutter to get an idea of where I stood.
CS outlines a method in his book for roughing these tenons in by hand that involves a saw and some chisel work. I’m sure that method works fine, but I feel more comfortable using a knife for this sort of thing.
To bring the tenons down to final size was just a matter of test, trim and repeat. Each test fit leaves a distinct mark as to where the high spots are. Whittle those down and go back into the tenon cutter. Sounds tedious, but goes pretty quick.
With the legs done I turned my attention to the slab top. I’ll spare you the flattening and dressing of the slab (forgot to get any pics). The only real concern with the slab, other than flat and square, is that is must fit easily into the recess that is in the bottom of the tansu. Once that fit was verified, I laid out for the legs.
The book recommends 1/2 scale models with wire legs for finding the leg splay, rake and ultimately the resultant angle. I winged it. I set my legs on a 45 degree line from the corners and used a resultant angle of 16 degrees. The resultant angle combined with the 45 degree line gave me all I needed to drill the socket holes.
Again, I must apologize, but I forgot to take any photos. Actually I was concentrating on the task at hand and photos never even came to mind. The only tricky part was reaming the sockets. It’s not hard, but care must be taken to get the angles to match from leg to another. You have the ability to “steer” the reamer as it cuts. Which is a good thing, but also can lead to wandering away from where you really want to be. So it’s best to set one leg and then go slow with the rest and make any corrections as needed on the remaining legs.
Well, after glue and wedges, the staked stand/stool is on its feet. I still need to level the legs though. Pretty quick for one afternoon of work. If you don’t count the slab glue up of course.
I have the whole works sitting in the living room for now. I have a couple of decorative ideas that I’m milling over and it will need a few coats of oil to finish it off.
All in all I like the process. It’s simple and quick. Plus I like the looks of it. Stay tuned for the final version and see if I can make a mess of it by adding some decorative touches.