As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently moved to Colorado and, as a result, had to shut down the shop for a little while. Things are finally back up and running now and I’m excited that I have two new designs to add to the collection: The X-Weave Coffee Table and the Pinnacle End Table. As usual, I thought I’d use this post to run through the process of designing these two pieces.
My main goal in designing the new tables was to create slightly more traditional looking pieces that still incorporate the engineering aspects characteristic of my other work. As it turns out, I didn’t take many pictures while building the X-Weave Coffee table, so I’m going to focus more on the end table (it has a more interesting story anyways – more mess ups along the way). But here are the images I do have of the coffee table:
The X-Weave Coffee Table features four legs that angle sharply outward and are kept from splaying under the weight of the glass tabletop by the crisscrossing stainless steel cables that connect them. With this design, I combined maple and walnut for a very high light/dark contrast. I loved the result! The main question for me while working on the piece was whether to add a shelf or not. The original design called for a suspended shelf but, as I began building, I realized that I might prefer the simplicity of a no-shelf version. I tried out both designs and, in the end, found that I leaned toward the simpler version. Still, I like the practicality of the shelf and the fact that it makes extra use of the cables.
Once I’d finished the Coffee Table, I decided to work on an end table design that would again combine maple and walnut. As it happens from time to time, there was much more trial and error with this particular piece. I took pictures of each iteration, so I’ll let them to most of the explaining.
When I originally started work on the end table, I imagined a tabletop that would appear to almost float above the legs. This can be achieved when the legs of a piece don’t actually touch the tabletop, but instead connect via an intermediary center post. As you can see from the plywood prototype, I didn’t achieve what I was hoping to. The gap between the top of the legs and the bottom of the tabletop was too large and the table ended up looking like some sort of weird robot. I could have played around with proportions, but I really wasn’t feeling it, so I moved on.
For the second version of the table, I extended the legs so that they directly touched the tabletop. I liked the looks of this version a lot more, but it still had some issues. The main problem was the cabling pattern. The pattern here is pretty much the exact same one that I used in the X-Weave Coffee Table. However, whereas the cables in the coffee table design are important for keeping the legs from splaying under the weight of the glass, here they didn’t really do anything. The legs weren't angled sharply enough to need the extra support and, without a ton of extra weight on top of the table, the cables remained fairly slack. I moved on.
For the final version of the table, I wanted to make the cables more useful. I always want the cables to serve a structural function in my work and I hadn’t really achieved that yet with this piece. Eventually, I settled on the idea of bringing the tops of the legs in so that they would meet at a small point underneath the tabletop. This, I figured, would result in a precariously perched tabletop in need of stabilization. And what could provide the stability needed? Cables!!! I took eight cables and ran them from the edges of the tabletop and the legs below. They pull downward on the tabletop, holding it firmly in place and preventing it from tipping when heavy items are placed on top of it.
The final version of the table adhered pretty closely to the plywood prototype, with the only change being an increase in leg angle for slightly better proportions.