I have had pieces in gallery shows for the past couple of months, and at one of the galleries, they requested stands to put the pieces on. I didn’t have any stands or pedestals to offer, so I decided that I would make a one in case the request ever came up again.
So when thinking of a design, I knew I would not make a simple white tall rectangle. I wanted something that would make your eye look at the piece and not the stand, yet again, I did not want something plain. It had to be thin, with some type of special flair.
After running through designs in my head, I came up with the following idea: The legs would be really thin which meant that they would need support, so I borrowed a page from the Japanese Torii design and improvised upon it. It is certainly not as wide as typical Torii, but you get the gist.
Looking through the remnants of my lumber pile, I only had douglas fir to make the legs. Not my first choice of wood but I had in mind that the piece would be black, so it did not matter that much. I had one large doug fir 4×4 post so I sawed it to length by hand. I greased up my saw with mutton tallow and it really makes a difference with the ease of your sawing. Why don’t they coat handsaws in teflon? Hummmmm… Next, I used the bandsaw to cut and resaw the legs.
The top and the braces are made of maple which I recycled from an old piece of furniture (see my previous post about this). I used the table saw to cut out the basic width and length of the top and shelves, and cut the notches by hand and fine tuned them with a chisel.
To give the legs more “lift” and “lightness”, I gave them a taper from about nine inches up from the floor, but only on one side. In traditional western furniture you taper two sides, but I did not want the legs to be too thin at the bottom, so I only tapered the legs from the front and back view of piece. The tapering was easy, I laid out the taper with a fine pencil and a ruler, clamped two matching pieces together, and planed down to the lines. All in all, a real snap; no taper jigs, no table sawing, no bandsawing, and no need for sanding. I went over all the parts with the smoothing plane before I started assembling, and therefore had no sanding to do!
To connect the legs to the top, I made four mortises 3/4” square and 1/4” deep for the legs to fit directly into. Attaching the legs to the supporting shelves was something I pondered over for a while. Finally I decided just to use a single long thin nail to pin the leg to the supporting shelf. I drilled a small pilot hole to prevent splitting, then I coated the nail in mutton tallow. I would not normally do this for pine, but I have found you can drive a nail much easier in hard woods if the nails are greased thus preventing bent nails and much cursing. It works great for screws too. I have found so many uses for mutton tallow, you have got to make some of this for yourself. It is recycled material and it is all natural. I would say it tastes great on a cracker too, but it doesn’t. :- (
Once the piece was assembled, I had to adjust the leg lengths to make it stand firm, then I chamfered the very bottom of the legs to prevent splitting.
Right now I have a plan to use a mix of black aniline dye and india ink to make the piece black, then I will put a coat of satin poly on it to give it more of a matte finish. I think I will copper leaf the top shelf, then I have a special idea to give the whole piece a really cool design feature.