This past summer we began a huge furniture project for a local client, 9 pieces in all. In August we delivered an entry table, a buffet, an end table, and a console table. A month or so later we delivered another end table, two coffee tables, a small office sitting table, and the project you see below, a TV stand. Each of the pieces was unique from each other and from anything else we have ever built. The clients were also an integral part of the design process, refining each piece until the perfect shape and size was achieved.
One of the pieces in the second round was the TV stand. The white “C” assembly would be clear finished walnut, while the small toe kick and the cabinet in the middle would be walnut stained a medium shade of black.
We began the project by building three torsion boxes, the base, the top, and the vertical side piece, and connecting those three pieces with 8 dominos at each butt joint.
The main issue we had to deal with was the fact that the “C” shaped assembly had absolutely no strength on its own. Like a new born baby, this cantilevered glue-up would collapse under its own weight, so at all times we had to make sure we had a support of some kind holding the top piece up.
Once the torsion boxes were assembled into one large unit, we sanded the faces of the “C” so all the surfaces were perfectly flush and smooth. We then re-sawed some solid walnut into 1/4″ thick strips, and, making sure to keep an overhang on all edges, framed both faces and the two ends.
We did not use any mechanical fasteners to attach the walnut edge to the torsion boxes. We used melamine cauls and clamps to hold the edging in position until the glue dried.
The walnut frame is continuous around the entire assembly. We used a butt joint to join the three torsion boxes, but as you can see in the picture, we used miter joints on the 4 corners on both faces and at the 4 corners on the ends.
The next steps involved veneering the surfaces with walnut veneer. We veneer all of our projects using a vacuum bag, but in this instance, that was pretty much out of the question. Instead, we cut a piece of veneer so that there was plenty of overhang on all sides, cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood the same size as the veneer, and using dozens of clamps and half that number of cauls, adhered the veneer to the torsion boxes.
We began by laminated the inside vertical face, followed by the outside vertical face, then the top surface and the lower surface. The most difficult part of the entire process was veneering the lower surface. We had to clamp the veneer flat, but we still had to support the overhanging upper portion the entire time. This was accomplished by having a person hold the upper portion while the veneer on the lower portion was being applied and clamped. Once that process was completed, a support was inserted to hold up the top while the veneer dried.
While the veneering process was going on, we were also working on the cabinet box that fit inside the “c”. We cut the parts from 3/4″ walnut ply, edgebanded the front edges, mitered the corners, routed mortises for 3 dominos in each corner, attached the drawer slides, and assembled the cabinet box.
After we final sanded the box, we added the 3/4″ spacers to the top and bottom of the box, inserted the divider in the middle, removed the slides, and finished the box. As mentioned in the beginning of this entry, the cabinet box was stained using a thinned out black stain concentrate. The thinned out black stain gave a rich, dark color to the walnut without muddying the grain.
We attached the cabinet box from the inside, using a right angle drill to negotiate the tight space and drive home the screws.
We attached the toe kick, which was also stained black, to the underside using pocket screws.
The final product, after two coats of sanding sealer and a coat of conversion varnish, came out perfectly.
The two drawer fronts were milled from one board of Walnut, so that the grain was continuous from left to right.
The clients also did not want to use any hardware to open up the drawers. We didn’t want to use any push-to-open ball-bearing slides because they require a decent sized gap between the back of the drawer front and the front of the box, which would have looked quite unsightly. The solution we decided upon was to route a finger pull into the bottom edge of each drawer front. There is only a 3/4″ space under the drawer fronts, but that is enough space to reach in and pull open each drawer box.
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