Leg And Apron Construction

striking feature of any table is how well it fits in with its surroundings. This can mean designing in an established style such as Queen Anne or Arts and Crafts, or designing so that the general proportions, shapes, and colors are compatible with neighboring pieces. Compatibility can result from similarity or contrast. A severely modern design might fit very well with the relatively simple lines of a room full of Shaker furniture, but might look uncomfortably out of place in a room furnished in a ponderous Gothic or an ornate 18th-century style.

Designing in a particular period style can be difficult. It is not enough to employ superficial features of a period to achieve the right feeling. Slapping cabriole legs onto a table, for instance, does not guarantee that it will look "Chippendale." Arts and Crafts furniture is not as uncompromisingly rectilinear as it may appear. And Shaker furniture, for all its apparent simplicity, is often surprisingly sophisticated in its proportions. Incorrect details can produce ludicrous and unhappy results, similar to applying a distinctive Rolls-Royce hood to a Volkswagen Beetle.

Before attempting to design a table in a period style, understand the typical construction techniques, the common materials, and the forms that governed the proportions. This last point—forms that govern proportions—is more important than almost anything else. The term simply means that, functional and structural requirements aside, some method has been employed to decide on all the dimensional details of your table. Making decisions about the exact width of a leg or the depth of a skirt or apron based on structural requirements alone may guarantee solid joinery, but your table may not look as balanced and graceful as it could if designed according to some plan.

There are, in fact, numerous paradigms commonly used by designers, some exceedingly simple, others sophisticated. You may, indeed, invent your own paradigm or plan—the point is that using virtually any plan is better than making decisions about exact dimensions based on nothing more than what material is conveniently at hand, or what size router bits are available. □

Graham Blackburn is a furniture maker and publisher of Blackburn Books (www. blackburnbooks.com) in Bearsville, N.Y.

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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