Building from templates
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Building from Templates. The Concept. First things first: In the beginning was the idea. For example, “ I need a coffee table, something unique but functional. ” Free hand sketches help explore ideas. Design Parameters.

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The concept
The Concept

  • First things first: In the beginning was the idea. For example, “I need a coffee table, something unique but functional.”

  • Free hand sketches help explore ideas.

Design parameters
Design Parameters

  • These are the hard facts on the ground. What is my available space? What purpose do I want this piece to serve?

  • 17” tall is a standard for coffee tables. Should it deviate from that for my application?

  • Should it have storage below?

  • Etc.

Drawing to scale
Drawing to Scale

  • This can be at full scale if you like. Use a sheet of 1/4” MDF as a drawing board or at the desk using a convenient scale such as 1” = 1'. For now just work in the front elevation.

  • This is the place to experiment by playing with the relative size of components to make sure they harmonize with each other.

  • When the concept is finalized transfer it to full scale on 1/4” MDF. This is where another tweak of proportions can occur.

Fair in curves and fits
Fair in Curves and Fits

  • When you are satisfied with drawing of the piece it is time to saw out the individual parts on the band saw. You can work directly from the ¼ MDF.

  • Each part will be faired so that curves flow freely and each intersection, should there be intersections, is made to fit exactly because these are the patterns that make the parts.

Creating the pattern board
Creating the Pattern Board

  • Use the ¼ template to draw the shape on a ½ or ¾ thick MDF. This will become the Pattern Board.

  • Rough saw the Patten Board on the band saw leaving the line.

  • Tack the ¼ template to the ¾ pattern board and use a flush trim bit to cut it to shape.

  • Pick location points in the Pattern Board and drill holes to accept 3/8 drill guide inserts.

Transfer of pattern to material
Transfer of Pattern to Material

  • To mill or not to mill first? Pattern can be used to “rough-out” material leaving lots of room or clamped and cut accurately the first time. What are the advantages of each of these approaches?

  • Thickness? Depends on project and tooling. 8/4 can be very useful in a project that has wide components such as the altar we looked at. 4/4 might work better for a thin piece such as the curved top of a lectern that is only 7/8 thick.

Roughing parts to size
Roughing Parts to Size

  • Clamp the pattern to the milled roughed-out part.

  • With a 3/8 diameter bit drill the part using the insert as guides. This hole will later serve as a gluing location point so drill it at least 5/8 deep so a 1” dowel will line things up for easy clamping. (is clamping ever easy?!)‏

  • Draw the pattern with a sharp pencil on the part while it is still clamped.

  • Band saw close but leaving the line.

Flush trim part to shape
Flush Trim Part to Shape

  • Install dowels in the Pattern Board to act as location points to hold the part while it is being shaped.

  • Set up a pattern bit or flush trim bit in the router or router table and flush part to the pattern. Use caution when working against the grain to minimize tear-out.

Location points for back side
Location Points for back side

  • Carefully line the pattern up on the back side of the flush trimmed part and clamp in place.

  • Drill again using a 3/8 diameter bit in the drill guide 5/8 deep. This will be how the finished parts are line up at glue up so take great care in getting the pattern located on the part.

  • Unless you plan to plug holes do not drill the face pieces of two lefts and two rights.

Glue up
Glue UP!!

  • Clean all surfaces. Make sure parts go together well. Any problems should be fixed with a skim on the joiner at this stage.

  • Spread glue on both faces and drive 3/8” x 1” location dowels. Glue one joint at a time to avoid long open times

  • Balance with clamps on both sides and check to see if you need to adjust camping pressure to maintain the part flat.