Lately I’ve been intrigued with the Japanese form of woodworking called Kumiko, you’ve probably seen the two boxes I recently completed using that technique as an accent. I’ve seen a few images of the Kumiko being used in furniture as well and that’s been my long term goal — we can use a sofa table so that became the impetus for this project. The wood chosen is Cherry and what I like to do, if possible, is to buy one board that can be used for the entire project. The coloration and grain pattern will usually match through out and make for a cohesive piece since I only use clear finishes. I bought a piece of 8/4 x 10″ x 10′ and yes, it does involve more work with resawing but I think it’s worth the effort. Rough sketches began at the drafting table and ended up full size on craft paper. I’m after an Oriental inspired design with a floating top. Haven’t done a top like that so that’ll just add that to the challenge, learning some new techniques in a project is what it’s all about for me. Here’s a brief montage of how the top was made. Basically there is a rabbet deep enough for the Kumiko and two layers of 3/16″ glass. They are joined with mortise and tenons so the rabbet needed to be cut away in those areas.
The next step was to make the grid work for the Kumiko, there’ll be 3 Asa-no-ha’s surrounded by a uniform grid to lock it into place. After cutting all of the lap joints they were assembled on a piece of plywood (lined with wax paper to prevent any sticking) inside the top. Won’t bore you with the details but will add that I’m glad I made some extras — broke some and learning how accurately those lap joints need to be cut!
After milling the material for the legs, approximately 1 3/4″ square, it was time to cut the mortises. There’s a lot that goes into figuring out table legs! First of all there’s the grain direction, especially important because I’d be planing the curve at the bottom of two sides of each leg. Then, there’s laying out the mortises and making sure the tapered curve and apron pieces are in the proper sequence — definitely a time to measure twice (or more!) mark carefully, and cut once. The apron is 3 1/2″ wide and since the legs are pretty slender I chose to go with a full length haunch and then offset the tenons.
That left designing the curved, taper at the bottom of each leg. After drawing a “fair curve” on a piece of MDF to use as a pattern that work began. When doing a set of dining chairs I used my shaper and did pattern shaping, however; for this project using eye and hand is sufficient. Only 4 legs and eight sides to form. In the middle picture you can see the progression. At left is the template, then it’s drawn on the leg, cut out on the bandsaw leaving the line, and finally smoothed out with a low angle block plane.
I love working with hand planes and found so much pleasure fairing these bandsawn curves decided to make a little video of it and share it with you. My usual disclaimers — old camera, older camera guy but you get the gist of it!