rmac

Plans for Darrell Peart's Arched Aurora Nightstand

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In this post on lumberjocks.com, Darrell Peart mentioned that his Arched Aurora Nightstand was the subject of a past article in Woodwork Magazine. Can anyone (maybe Darrell :) ) tell me the issue where this appeared? I couldn't find a reference to it on the magazine's website.

Or, if there's an alternate source for plans, I'd be interested in that, too.

Thanks,

-- Russ

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Hi Russ,

My article on the Arched Aurora Nightstand was in the Winter 2010 issue of Woodwork Mag (#116).

I have another article in that issue as well - Furniture DNA.

Darrell

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Thank you, Mr. P. It will be interesting to see if it takes longer to build the table or to make the requisite jigs. :)

-- Russ

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Well, it took a while, but I finally got hold of a copy of the magazine. The Aurora Nightstand looks like a fun project, and it will definitely be a stretch for me.

One question. There are a bunch of inside corners in the assembled table because lots of adjoining surfaces are offset from each other a little bit. This is where a lot of the table's character comes from, of course, but it also looks like it would make applying the finish (especially sanding between coats) somewhat difficult.

So I'm wondering if there's any reason not to finish the parts before assembly. I can't think of one, but both the magazine article and Marc's blog of his Aurora Table build suggest finishing the project after it's put together.

Any hints?

Thanks,

-- Russ

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Well one reason is the little vertical strips that are applied to the side stretchers. That's something you apply after the table is glued up. If you have finish there, you are going to need to use epoxy or something that will adhere to the finish. But other than that, as long as your joinery is protected from the finish, I don't see any reason you can't pre-finish. But honestly, its not that tough to finish even after assembly. A few coats of a nice wiping varnish will do the trick nicely.

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Thanks Marc. I see what you mean about the little vertical strips.

I am planning to use a wiping varnish finish, but I was worried a little bit about sanding between coats as you recommend in your DVD. In Darrell's book, however, he suggests different technique where he wipes each coat completely dry after it begins to get tacky, and he doesn't mention sanding between coats. Maybe that's the trick. Did you use Darrell's method on your table or did you sand between coats?

I guess I'll have to play around a little bit with some scraps.

Thanks,

-- Russ

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I used a standard wiping varnish method (the one I use in my DVD). It involves wiping on a light coat and leaving it. I hate wasting finish by wiping it off, lol. So yes, I do sand between coats very lightly when needed. If you try to use Darrell's method, be sure you confirm what product he's using. Most wiping varnishes don't appreciate being touched once they become tacky. :)

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Thanks again, Marc. For the record, Darrell (in his book) specifies Arm-R-Seal Urethane Satin. He doesn't say anything about thinning it.

-- Russ

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I've made some pretty good progress on this table, and it looks like I'm actually going to need to make some ebony plugs pretty soon! I've never worked with ebony before, but reading between the lines in Darrell's article gives me the impression that it might be kind of splintery and prone to splitting. Assuming that's true, I have a few questions:

1. Does anybody have any hints on milling it into the tiny thin sticks that are needed to make the ebony plugs?

2. Can anybody suggest a wood with similar qualities that I could use for practice before cutting into a bunch of expensive ebony? Hickory, maybe???

3. Any other hints?

Thanks,

-- Russ

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Thanks, Chester. I think I saw the video you're talking about. In it, Marc had already milled the sticks and was focusing mostly on how to shape the pillowed ends of the plugs. I think. I'll look again, though.

-- Russ

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For milling the ebony sticks, set up your cuts using hard maple first, use a sacrificial pushstick, check measurements with a caliper, and cut away. Remember to make them a few 1/1000ths bigger than your square holes. If you are using Mahogany or an African equivalent, the few 1/1000ths is forgiving as the wood fibers will crush a little to accommodate the oversize plug. If you are using a very hard wood, you have to nail the size precisely.

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Thanks, SDWoodworker. That helps a lot. I cut the little mortises for the pegs by hand, so they are not what you'd call exactly uniform. I am using African mahogany. Given its squishiness, it will be interesting to see if I can make some one-size-fits-all pegs, or if I end up having to fit each one individually.

-- Russ

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Thanks, SDWoodworker. That helps a lot. I cut the little mortises for the pegs by hand, so they are not what you'd call exactly uniform. I am using African mahogany. Given its squishiness, it will be interesting to see if I can make some one-size-fits-all pegs, or if I end up having to fit each one individually.

-- Russ

A big key to affixing ebony plugs is to taper the underside. Once you have the face shaped, pillowed, and polished - then cut it to length and undercut the peg slightly on all four side. This taper (that will be hidden when placed) will help you set the plug much easier. It also allows for some wiggle room if your mortises and/or plugs themselves aren't perfectly sized.

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Well, well. I bought some ebony from a guy on eBay and it took a while to get here. But it finally showed up last Saturday and I finished up the last of the little plugs this evening. Torch02's tapering trick (which was also described by Darrell in his book and article, and by Marc in his video) worked great. As suggested by everyone, I made the plugs a little bit oversize and they did a nice job of squishing the mahogany aside as I pressed them into the holes.

I had a bit of trouble at first getting the plugs seated in the holes at just the right depth. A couple of them got stuck before I had pounded tapped them in far enough, and when I finally whacked tapped them hard enough to get them unstuck, they went too far into the hole. The only remedy at that point was to drill them out and start over.

After some fooling around, I found that it was much easier to seat the plugs by squeezing them in with a clamp instead of bashing tapping them in with a 28 oz. framing hammer delicate plastic mallet. With the clamp, it was no problem to push them in slowly, a little at a time, and to stop when they were at just the right depth. It seemed the only trick was to make sure they were started straight in the hole before applying the clamp.

-- Russ

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The nightstand is done! Thanks to everyone here for the tips, and especially to Darrell Peart for his beautiful design. There's a series of blog articles here for anybody interested in more pictures and/or details about the build.

-- Russ

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not sure if anyone is watching this thread after 4 years, but I cannot find issue 116 of woodworkers magazine anywhere. Can anyone point me in the right direction. Also, Russ, if you see this. Do you by any chance still have the CAD drawings of the templates? Willing to share? :)

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Hi Ryan,

 

Pretty wild coincidence ... I haven't looked at this forum in months, but I did just now and noticed your post.  I do have the CAD drawings of not only the templates, but the entire table as well.  Send me an email at rrrmac@gmail.com and I'll send you the files.  Unfortunately, I can't find my copy of the magazine.

 

-- Russ

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Does anyone else out there have a copy of the magazine? I can't find it online either. Happy to pay for it. Woodwork magazine #116

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