Putting the "log" back in Blog

Stacked Lamination Coffee Table Pt. 3


Posted on November 30th, by Andy Brownell in marketing & promotion, Projects, Tools. 1 Comment

arbortech-logo1-300x94The following post is sponsored by Australia-based Arbortech, makers of power carving, sanding and cutting tools. This is the second in a series of posts on building, carving and finishing a stacked lamination coffee table project. 

With this project finally complete, I wanted to share some final shots and thoughts on how this sponsored project has impacted my woodworking experience.

The "Tree of Life": A stacked lamination, power-carved coffee table in ribbon stripe Sapele. 35" x 30" x 18"

The “Tree of Life”: A stacked lamination, power-carved coffee table in ribbon stripe Sapele. 35″ x 30″ x 18″

Almost two years ago today, I was inspired by a visit to the Chicago Art Institute’s furniture collection. Wendell Castle’s work was featured among others in an American Studio Furniture exhibit. Castle’s work spans several decades and encompasses a variety of materials including metal, wood and plastic. Their sculpted, organic shapes break from just about every furniture form out there, but certainly blend elements of the Chippendale ball and claw, Art Nouveau’s sinuously-organic curves and Midcentury Modern shapes and materials.

Wendell Castle coffee table. 1967. Walnut. I’m going to make this. #BubingaBuildoff

A video posted by Brownell Furniture (@brownellfurniture) on

If you have $35,650 to spend on a Wendell Castle original, this is currently available. Or you can learn to make one yourself.

If you have $35,650 to spend on a Wendell Castle original, this is currently available. Or you can learn to make one yourself.

 

This was a form of woodworking that was completely alien to me, and just about everyone of my woodworking friends, so by taking this project on, I was starting from ground zero. It requires a different set of tools, a totally different methodology of design and construction, and a number of skills that go way past traditional dimensional furniture fabricated from lots of rectangular parts. Castle used and still uses a variety of power and hand tools today to create these organic forms from wood. Chainsaws, chisels, carving and grinding burrs among others, helped him achieve curves and shapes not possible with other tools of the time period.

A hand-carved, mahogany Newport-style ball and claw coffee table I made about 15 years ago, now residing at my parent's house.

A hand-carved, mahogany Newport-style ball and claw coffee table I made about 15 years ago, now residing at my parent’s house.

Now, Arbortech’s power carving tool kit provides a great new way of tackling this technique in woodworking, at a fairly reasonable cost. These tools have literally opened up a whole to branch of woodworking that I never even considered. While sculpted and carved parts are not absent from some of the work I do, none have taken the form of something as truly organic as this project. Removal of material, rather than assembly of parts forces your brain to approach the task of woodworking in a completely different way. I hand’t really experienced this way of thinking in over 15 years since I first attempted a Newport-style ball and claw table while living in Chicago.

Never have any of my sponsors been so instrumental in forcing me to learn something totally new, expanding my design and technique more than Arbortech. For that, I’m extremely grateful. I’m also looking forward to wrapping up this sponsorship before the end of the year with an abstract modern sculpture. Again, this will be a first for me, and I’m actually looking forward to creating something that is more decorative than functional.

Until then, here are a few more shots of the finished project in it’s final home (the study in my house). Thanks Arbortech!

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