Japanese c

• MARK APPLEGATE completed his MSc in Forest Products : Design and Manufacture at Hooke Park College before becoming a self-employed designer-maker. Mark is currently building up his list of clients and would like to fit out his own workshop in the near future

THE INSPIRATION for this piece evolved over a period of time. I had in mind a design with a simple outline, using striped American black walnut (Juglans niger) and some sweet chestnut (Castanea saliva) top boards that I'd had for a while. 1 often get an idea from the timber itself - either the grain pattern, colour, shape, or even a defect, can prove inspirational.

The lapanese element was almost accidental in that I wanted to create a sense of space and air in the piece, and the floating top and uplifting gave it this kind of form.

As it was an exhibition piece, rather than a commission, I was free to design something that I could later use at home.


Most of the work in the table and cabinet uses traditional mortice and tenon techniques. All edge joints uAs it was an exhibition piece, rather than a commission, i was free to design something that I could later use at home"

are glued butt joints, the exception being ply tongues, which were used on the top.

After allowing the timber to acclimatise in the workshop I set about machining to size and marking out. I tackled the mortice and tenon joints first. The end frames are the usual single mortice and tenons, while the longitudinal rails have twin tenons which give greater gluing area on this kind of section. I cut all of these using the morticer and table saw. The legs and rails, which receive the panels, were grooved using a router. A table saw could not be used easily for this as some of the grooves are stopped.

Top and panels

The next step is to prepare all panels and horizontal surfaces. Care needs to be taken in proportioning the strips to match the adjacent surfaces. Ail the joints between the sweet chestnut and American black walnut are shot with a sharp plane before gluing. This ensures that the joint is clearly defined and gap-free - this is time-consuming but well worth the effort!

A point to note about panels and their design is that their width, if possible, should suit the blade or bed size of the planer-thicknesser because, after gluing, they can be re-surfaced and thicknessed easily.

right: Although construction is straightforward, subtle detailing can transform the design
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