Friday, April 29, 2016

Folded Cube Table / Stool / Bench


Around 1pm Thursday my oldest daughter tells me she has a project due 9am Friday for her design class. Okay, sure I'm happy to help. Turns out it is THE project, which they had the entire semester to do and is 1/3 their grade. I leave the room and stew for a few minutes because I'm very angry, get over it, fetch my daughter and we go to work. We take care of the paperwork portion, then the prototype requirement, and by 4pm-ish we are in the shop starting work on the actual build. We discuss lots of options but realistically we only have time for plywood. The idea is a cube table/bench/stool made of 8 triangles (legs) and 1 square (the top). Everything is mitered. It was tempting to say, 'It will be butt joints, glued and brad nailed,' and we would have been done in half the time but this is a design project, not a: make Dad's life easy project.

We cut squares, then bisected the squares to make 45/45/90 triangles for the legs. I hot glued plywood scraps to the sled for registering the squares. The hypotenuse doesn't need to be precise, just cleanly cut. To prevent splintering, we set the blade about 1/8" above the sled and ran the squares backward over it. After scoring all the pieces, we raised the blade and cut through.


Miters were cut by burying the blade into a sacrificial fence and sliding the edge to be mitered along the fence. The benefit is you can cut your pieces to finished size before mitering. I recommend running each piece through twice, first with the miter gauge to remove some waste then a second time against the fence to cut your final miter. That reduces the cut off and prevents it being trapped under the blade.


What luck. Two nasty storms, with hail, came through a few hours apart and both knocked out the power. At one point we busted out my Goodell miter saw from the early 1900's and using a battery powered light, kept working. Here she is making a test cut to make sure we are at exactly 45°, the old miter box was dead nuts.



Here are pictures of the glue up, which was tricky because everything is mitered and wanted to slip around. We considered biscuits or splines but with all the glue surfaces they weren't necessary for strength and we were against a deadline.


There wasn't time for a finish but that's how it goes when you procrastinate. We worked until around 2:00 am -ish; 4am now and I'm still wired from too many cups of coffee. I'll get more pictures when she brings it home again. [update; finished picture at top] Considering it was last minute, I'm proud of the result and proud of her work ethic today. (Not proud of her putting it off until today, we are going to have a talk about that.) I don't think it would have been much better if we had more time. The miters came together extremely well considering how many there are. Four of the triangles are mitered on three sides. The top is mitered on four sides. The remaining four triangles are mitered on two sides. And lord help me, she wants to build another one from solid wood.