Mid century modern

100% Wood Wall Hanging Coat Rack

100% Wood Wall Hanging Coat Rack

A few months ago I was asked to make a wall hanging coat rack. The only design direction I was given was a slightly modern look in a dark wood. I figured out a rough design idea in my head and went looking for some appropriate stock, and found some walnut the perfect size in my scrap bin. I had 6 scrap pieces of roughly the same size, and decided to use 3 for the base with the grain running vertically, and use the others for the actual hooks.

Walnut coat rack, wall handing, mid century modern

The walnut scrap pieces I used to make one of the wall hanging coat racks

After jointing the edges and gluing up, I flattened and trued the board using my jack plane. A couple of the pieces had live edges, and were on the outside; when I make these using pieces that don’t have live edges I make sure to place the sap wood on the outside. Nothing annoys me more than a laminated piece with sapwood in the middle, it just seems unnatural (of course, to each their own and all that…). I also planed some chamfers and rasped in some curves followed by a spokeshave for the edges of the backer board.

walnut, mid century modern, coat rack

The cavity for the hooks and spacers marked out, and the backer board shaped out

Okay, so back to the design. I decided to go with a backing board, with 9 hooks on top – 5 of them laminated in place and 4 sandwiched between fixed pieces that can fold in or out as required. I marked out a good equal distance from each end, and tried a couple of different sizes for the hooks height and width till I settled on a size that looked just right. With the space for the hooks marked out, I set about routing out a shallow cavity for the hooks to sit in. Of course, this being me, it was all done using hand tools and so the router in question was a Stanley 71 1/2. I prefer the closed mouth 71 1/2 over the open 71.

walnut, mid century modern, wall hanging coat rack

Routing out the cavity using my Stanley 71 1/2 router

I ripped the hooks and spacer pieces and planed them down to size, and drilled through each of them (except the two end pieces) to house the oak dowel that formed the hinge rod. I cut out the shape of the hooks roughly using a dovetail saw, and refined them using rasps. The top of the hooks needed to be slimmed down a bit to do a better job of holding the coats. The bottom of the hooks need to be curved to allow them to open without interfering with the backer board, while also acting as a stop to prevent them from just flopping down all the way. This was rough estimation followed by trial and error to get the final shape.

mid century modern, wall hanging coat rack, walnut

Cutting out and shaping the hooks and spacer pieces

With the hooks, spacer pieces and backer board for the wall hanging coat rack all ready, it was time for glue up. This is where an accurately cut out cavity really shines. I cut the dowel to length, assembled the hooks and spacer pieces, applied glue to the cavity and set them in place using clamps. I was very careful to set the pieces precisely, as I wanted a friction fit, otherwise the hooks won’t close properly. Obviously, no glue on the hooks themselves, only on the spacer pieces. I left the glue to set and dry overnight.

walnut, mid century modern, wall hanging tool rack

The hooks and spacers in place for a dry fit before glue up and shaping

The next day all I had to do was plane the hooks and spacers flush, and use a block plane to chamfer their outside edges before finishing. I used a couple coats of shellac followed by paste wax. The hooks work just as they should, and close flush to the spacer pieces. To mount the racks I used brass screws countersunk into the backer board – I’ve always loved the look of walnut and brass.

walnut, mid century modern, wall handing tool rack

The finished 100% wood wall hanging tool rack!

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Builds, Wall Hanging Coat Rack, 2 comments
The Artisan Coffee Table Pt. 2 – Ideas and Concepts

The Artisan Coffee Table Pt. 2 – Ideas and Concepts

I took the design I sketched to my wife for her approval. She okayed it but didn’t seem too enthused, so I took my time looking up various other designs. The mid-century modern coffee table designs seemed to fall in one of two camps, either a table with skewed and tapered legs and thin top, or a box shaped carcase on smaller legs. The wife seemed a lot more enthusiastic about the latter, so the overall design theme for the Artisan coffee table was settled.

When designing a piece of furniture, the overall design of the piece needs to be based on it’s setting. In this case, the coffee table would be seen and used mostly against our living room couch, so I set the basic dimensions based on the couch. When sketching my piece I like to sketch the key aspects of the environment to scale to be able to visualise roughly how it’ll look.

Mid-century modern coffee table, couch

Sketching the key furniture that the table will be viewed against – the couch

Most mid-century modern coffee tables I came across on the internet with box-shaped carcases looked rather disproportional to me – they either had legs that were too long, or stretchers that were too long or short, ruining the visual relationship between the top and the base. I decided to go with the golden ratio to establish the dimensions between the top and the base, both for the length and the depth. The other key aspect to this sort of a design is the angle of skew and taper on the legs. I tried out a few different angles before settling on my final design.

Mid century modern, artisan, walnut

Walnut lumber for the Artisan coffee table – and my cat

I left off last post at the lumber purchasing stage – it just so happened that I came across someone selling a pretty large amount of lumber on Kijiji (a Canadian craigslist of sorts), and the bulk of the wood was walnut. I picked out a few pieces based on grain and colour similarities and stickered them to allow the wood to acclimatise to my home. I’ve overlooked this step in the past and kicked myself for it later on. With the wood left to sticker, it gave me some more time to settle the finer details of the design.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Artisan Coffee Table, Builds, 0 comments
The Artisan Coffee Table Pt. 1 – Ideas and Concepts

The Artisan Coffee Table Pt. 1 – Ideas and Concepts

I always have a running list of honey-do projects that I don’t seem to be able to get ahead of. It’s gotten to the point where my wife no longer asks me if I can build something – the other day she was about to pull the trigger on a dresser from IKEA. Surprisingly, this actually gave me a twinge of sadness…on the one hand I dislike the mass produced, assemble at home furniture, and pride my own ability to build things that are custom and will last for a lifetime; on the other hand, a piece of furniture in hand is better than two pieces of furniture in the bush. Or something like that. Anyways, it spurred me into action, so here we are. The most urgent of this list was a new coffee table – I shall call it the Artisan Coffee Table.

Mid-Century Modern, Coffee Table, Maker, Craft, Designer, Furniture Designer

Mid-Century Modern Coffee Table Design V1

My wife loves all things mid-century modern, and all things walnut, so all I had to go on for the design was that she wanted a mid-century modern coffee table in walnut. I did pick out a couple of beautiful cherry boards that we could go with instead, but we settled on walnut. With that settled I started researching mid-century modern coffee table designs, and sketching my ideas. I’m more of a pen and paper kind of person (also more of a printed book person vs e-books), so I do all my rough and detailed sketches on paper. I settled on a clean and slim design, with tapered and splayed legs, and a long top with beveled edges. When I do my final sketches I like to calculate out all the angles on the final piece, but also the angles at which I’ll need to cut my stock (bless up for 5th grade geometry).

I had to pick up stock before I could proceed any further, so this feels like a good place to break. Till next time!

 

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Artisan Coffee Table, Builds, 0 comments
Mid Century Modern Side Table With Bookmatched Top

Mid Century Modern Side Table With Bookmatched Top

In a recent post I did a little how-to on bookmatching veneers. The workpiece I was veneering in that post was a table top for a small mid century modern side table I was building.

Mid century modern side table

Base complete. The angled and tapered legs add a lot to the look.

The angled and tapered legs add a lot to the design. They are also surprisingly efficient when it comes to stock usage, as you can use a single board to cut out two legs if you plan ahead. The ‘shelf’ performs like stretchers would, in stabilising the table.

Bookmatched veneer table top

The bookmatched top after some time with a cabinet scraper

The top is veneered in a ‘quartermatched’ pattern, like regular bookmatching but involving four pieces in a symmetrical pattern. I detailed the bookmatching process in this post. Of course, I also had to veneer the sides and the bottom in cherry.

Mid century modern side table

The angles and the taper really work well with the dimensions of the table

The base was stained first in a darker stain, sanded down and then stained in a cherry stain. I find this approach brings out a more natural and older looking appearance than just going with a single lighter coloured stain.

The top was finished with some tung oil and a few coats of shellac. The tung oil really brought out the beauty of the cherry veneer.

Mid century modern coffee table

And here it is in it’s final location, made to fit beside the couch. The top has a beautiful depth to the grain.

 

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Builds, 1 comment