From WoodworkersZone WoodWiki
Created by John Fry
More of John's work can be seen at his website:chisel and bit
This dressing bench was designed to go with, and sit at the foot of, a four poster bed. I also recently finished a corner TV armoire for this client to complete the set.
The bench is made of solid walnut and the beige leather is imported Italian leather that is the softest leather I’ve ever felt. This is the third time I’ve used Mr. Ed Lanzetti of Pasadena Ca, for my upholstery work.
The leg work will be done on a Legacy Mill and I actually made eight legs for this bench because the lady changed her mind. I started by milling the leg blanks perfectly square and made up some extra material for set up and in case of any problems.
The first step is to lay out the mortises in the stock. I will cut the in the top of the blank for the seat rails and in the bottom of the blank for the stretchers. I use the FMT for this process.
After the mortises are done, I lay out and attach the Legacy Mill drive plates on one end of each blank.
It’s difficult to see in this pic, but the mortises in all the blanks are cut and the integral tenons are cut for the seat rails and the stretchers. I’m ready to go the “mill”.
The original leg design was what is known as a “two start barely twist”. I start by making the leg blanks round using a flat bottom cutting bit. I have four extra inches of length between the “blocks” to cut round tenons on each end of the milled portion of the leg.
This cut is the first “start” in the design. Two of the legs will spiral one direction and the two on the other end will spiral the opposite direction.
The second start cut is complete and you can see what the design looks like.
After changing the drive gear on the mill after the first two legs are done, you can see the opposing direction of the twists. The goal is to have the spirals entice the eyes up and toward the center of the piece. IMO, nothing looks worse than to see all for spirals going in the same direction leading your view off to one side.
Next, I measure out the exact length of leg I need, 9-3/4” in my case, and I cut the round tenons on the mill creating a 5/8” diameter round tenon. I don’t make these integral to the mortise blocks because it is important to be able to twist and align everything to be equal at glue up time.
Using the table saw and a sled, I harvest the leg form the end blocks by cutting the tenons to the desired length. Then I cut off the waste to leave me with my mortise blocks for the rails and stretchers.
I drill the round mortises on my lathe with a chuck and a Forstner bit.
I turned the little feet and their tenons next using my duplicator
A dry fit of the leg assembly.
And a dry fit the whole bench. I was ready to start preparing for the glue up, and the designer stopped by shop and wanted to take one of the legs to the client for approval.
Sure enough, she changed her mind and decided on the four start rope twist that I presented in the very beginning.
After a negotiated $100 per leg change order was signed, I made four more legs as “four start” rope twists.
After the ¾” seat rails were glued in to the upper corner blocks, another ½” thick rail was mitered and glued to the outside of the rails. This served two purposes, one was to further strengthen the rails and the other was to allow the upholstery to overhand the legs and act as a cushioned bumper to protect the bed. This clamp is holding the angle support block while the glue dries.
These blocks were predrilled before glue up and then screwed for additional strength.
The stretchers were glued next. The legs, both and top and bottom were still not glued yet. I used epoxy for this bench and completed this in several stages.
This is the final glue up. Now you can see that, because I made these with tenons rather than integral, I can align all the twists to match perfectly with the same start and stop locations as I do the glue up.
After sanding, the first coat of stain went on. I used Minwax red mahogany oil based stain.
Next step was General Finishes dark walnut gel stain. It was applied in most areas and others for accent. I wiped and dry brushed it off until I had the color I wanted.
The final step was a General Finishes Java gel stain as an antique effect in all the nooks and crannies of the twist and joints. It was applied sparingly and then dry brushed off.
The round cap is from the bed post and I think I nailed this match pretty well.
The finish is done, the plywood seat base is installed, and it is ready for the upholsterer!
This is a close up showing the stretcher joints and how they step down in size as they go from corner block to center.
This close up shows the foot to block to leg.
I sure didn’t intend to make an eight legged dressing bench, but I think I’ll build a small ottoman for my wife with the extra barley twist legs.
After it was upholstered I delivered to the client.
It was made to sit at the foot of this client's bed. This piece completes her bedroom suite.
I also built a corner TV armoire for this client five months ago.
It was designed to fit this space and house this 40" LCD TV.