Thursday, 11 October 2012

Shaker Nightstand in Huon Pine

A few posts back I gave a brief list of some of the furniture I intend to make for the cottage. I had omitted one piece as it will actually be more of a fixture or built in. 
Commonly known as a Shaker Nightstand they were made in most if not all the communities in differing forms. Variations were made to the legs, some turned instead of tapered and the tops were both undercut and straight edged. Most often they only had a single drawer.  They were both oiled and painted. The nightstand for the cottage is being made as a stand for the hand basin in the bathroom and like all the other furnishings in the bathroom will be made from solid Huon Pine. Virtually impervious to water, it should be ideal for its intended use.

I've made 5 of these little tables now and as well as being aesthetically pleasing they are very easy to make. Just like any piece of furniture really in that if you follow some very basic steps it goes together without much trouble. 

I had come across a supply of Huon which I had earmarked for this piece, but it has taken a while to materialise. So with some regret I hauled out my railway sleeper sized piece of Huon and began to break it down. The flip side of the coin being that the entire nightstand will be from the one flitch so the colour match will be perfect. I couldn't guarantee this with the other supply.

All previous nightstands I've made have been to order and to fill a particular use or place and so all have been differing sizes. The basin that will sit on this stand is 130mm high so I worked backward to make it a comfortable height to wash your hands. This gave me the overall height of 690mm. From that basic measurement and the pre determined void that the stand will fill, it was just a case of ensuring the rest was in proportion. 

Given that the Huon flitch was over 1800mm ( approx 6' ) long with a slight curve a third of the way down, I first broke it down into smaller components to ensure I didn't lose too much in jointing and thicknessing it. 

With the parts prepared, I marked out the top divider and dovetailed the tops of the front legs. I like to make the top and bottom dividers a little wider than average and dovetail/tenon them into the upper and lower doublers. It may be overkill but I like them to have the extra strength top and bottom, especially when the drawer is extended and puting racking pressure on the carcass.

With the legs and upper doublers dovetailed and the bottom divider tenoned into the legs and lower doublers, the rails were mortice and tenoned and the whole thing stood together to check for fit. I then cut the drawer front to the exact dimension of the drawer opening and tapered the four legs. 

I would usually taper legs on a nightstand to half of their upper dimensions, but in this case I have left them slightly heavier. This is due to the weight of the basin and the fact that people may be inclined to lean on it. I don't think the extra 3mm will adversely affect the overall proportions.

So at the end of a fairly relaxing day all of the parts for the carcass have been rough cut and readied for hand planing tomorrow prior to being assembled. I'll then re-saw the last lump from the flitch to create a nice book matched top. 

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