Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Prototyping as part of the Design process

One of the projects that has been creeping closer to the top of my list is a pair of side tables to go with the TV stand that I finished earlier this year. I've been working on the design off and on all year.

This is as far as I had gotten before moving onto other projects. Going back to it this fall I decided that this project might be a good use  for the wide walnut board i bought on a whim this spring.

It is 13.5-14" wide and the longer piece has almost 60 inches of clear stock, perfect for two table tops.

I started with a new sketch-up model to see how the proportions would work out with the narrower top. It seems to work out pretty well and may actually fit the space better than square tables.

Next I experimented with a couple wood combinations.  We know that we want to use cherry for the base to tie in with the TV stand, I just need to decide whether there should be any more Walnut than just the table top.

This second version uses Walnut for the shelf and the drawer front.  The shelf might be a good idea but I don't think the walnut drawer front really works.

After discussing the new plan with Natalie we decided that I should build a quick prototype  so that she could better visualize the proportions and we could test out the narrow table top. Using the scraps of Doug Fir construction lumber left over from the shed door, I put together a simplified version of the table.  To expedite things I used square legs, no drawer and no shelf. Other than those changes, the prototype should be close to the final design.  All of the parts are connected with dominos and I added a handful of pocket screws to keep things tight, while allowing me to take it apart if I decide to make any changes.

Here it is in the future home of the final version.  The height, at 24" seems to be just about right and the width of the table top seems to be sufficient.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how nice the Doug Fir looks once I cut around most of the large knots. 

So it looks like the dimensions are going to work which means I can use that walnut for my top.  I picked up some 4/4 and 8/4 cherry earlier this summer from a shop that was closing down so I think I may have all the material I need.  There are couple design details left to sort out, namely whether to use cherry or walnut for the shelf, and then I can begin laying out parts.