Many artists use some sort of taboret to organize their work area and equipment. Having a taboret placed next to the easel gives them an area for their palette, brushes, and turpentine. It seems that most of the fine artists I know could always use a larger studio space so if the taboret can be designed to provide storage for those often needed supplies and keep them close at hand that is a definite plus. If you should do a Google or Pinterest search for them you may be surprised at all of the variations there are. Then it’s time to take an assessment of what you really need and the space you have to work with. What brought all of this about you may ask, an artist and friend that I’ve done work for in the past sent me a picture of a pretty nice, compact sized taboret. When I showed it to Diane she immediately saw a use for it in her studio so she’s my “prototype artist” and my goal is to make others for local artists as well.
The challenge to designing this taboret will be to keep the costs down and still maintain the quality I’m known for. For that reason I’m going with clear-coated Baltic Birch plywood. The plus is that almost nothing sticks to it but the downside is that neither does glue! I’ll use tongue and groove joints plus stainless steel fasteners to give an Industrial Chic look and then for the back section use the clear-coated birch that’s only finished on one side. That way the glue will adhere to it as I intend to inset the back into the sides. The case will be assembled with tongue and groove joints plus the screws and glue. In my opinion, even though it’s an additional step, making a dado that is less than the thickness of the plywood and creating a step results in a stronger joint. In this case, the dado is 9/16″ and the shelf has been trimmed to fit tightly.
Drawers: Here’s where things really got interesting, no matter how you look at it they are very time consuming to make. After going through the process I did for this prototype I believe I’ll make the next one using the clear-coated Baltic Birch plywood (1/2″ thick) and use tongue and groove joints. Then make solid wood fronts to set them off. Definitely use full extension, ball bearing slides although it will add to the over-all cost. I had other thoughts for the joinery which I’ve sketched below. I’ve used before but it is very fussy to cut. Especially when you consider the bottom drawers for this are 6 1/2″ deep.
Here are the two options for the joinery; with the joint on the right, you use 3/4″ material for the front of the drawer and cut a 1/4″ x 1″ dado in the end. You also remove the end of the 3/4″ thick piece to leave a 1/2″ lip to conceal the hardware plus another 1/4″ for the side to set into. Then you cut a 1/4″ x 1/4″ dado in the drawer side you now have a way to conceal the slides, okay for shallow drawers but not the deep ones. I ended up going with the joinery on the left and will use a separate drawer front to conceal the hardware. Like I mentioned, future taborets will probably have more utilitarian drawers made of 1/2″ Baltic Birch plywood. I thought I could save money by purchasing 8/4 Birch and resawing it but it was quite time consuming and you know that expression!
That’s more than enough info for one blog! Unless you’re a dovetailer what I’m about to say will seem non-sensical but I find it more enjoyable hand cutting dovetails than I do messing with the machine set ups! Next up will be a special holder on one side for an iPad, divisions in the drawers for tubes of paint plus one just for brushes. Last of all will be installing the drawer slides, sizing their fronts, and making custom pulls — stay tuned!