Introduction: Organic Structure Table
This was a fun table design that really embodied that ideals of my business:
ORGANIC - INTUITIVE - EXPLORATORY
What this means is that I did not completely understand how to build this structure, what it would look like, and what it really needed to be stable and functional, until I built it.
Now this doesn't mean I wasn't thorough in the design - I began with a TON of drawings, scale models, a fully detailed Rhino model; heck I even built 2 'prototype' desks of a similar construction style before I was ready to dive in.
But once I was all setup, it was still 1 piece at a time, and it evolved quickly and drastically from the original models.
In the end, its a nice show piece that works well for the brand, it feels light with the large maple/walnut top having a less than clear line to the ground, and it has a sort of energy that it subtly brings to the room.
When I built this base, I was thinking of the human chest, shoulder blades, and maybe wings as the structural inspiration.
Step 1: Let Physics Decide the Form....
As you can see, the welding process of this base is pretty exploratory.
I started with a flat, and level work surface - which I always recommend. On this wood surface I mapped a 'grid' that represented to the X and Y locations of the feet and some of the crucial connections - this correlated to the same grid I modeled digitally, allowing me to measure the Z value at certain points, make a jig at that point, and then simply measure the exact distance from point A to point B. This type of 'Organic' construction method means that I know the cut of the 1/2" rod will be exactly what I want, including the types of chamfers I want for a smoother welding process and more solid connections. Once you have a few points and members in place, you abandon the grid and simply fill in the rest of the structure - this is what I would call the 'Intuitive' part of the construction.
The most challenging and critical part is ensuring that the top connections (plates for connecting to wood top) are totally flat and level to each other. The connections also had to land in appropriate spots in the wood. So I kept some long straight edges and an 8' level on hand, and waited to lay the wood top on the base before deciding where screw holes, etc needed to go.
Step 2: Off to Finishing.....
Typically you would always powder coat, galvanize, or do some other finish that bonds better with steel; however in this instance we decided to paint the beast and use protective sealer - which worked really well.
It's always nice to have talented friends with spray booths!
Step 3: Build the Wood Top
The shape of this table was part of the original architectural set, I felt it help shape and direct space in an interesting way for the small shop - it also breaks up the table in a way that separates social spaces, which can be a nice touch on a common table.
What it meant for the construction is a tricky cut and especially the angled joint.
I glued up the table as a whole first so the grain and individual boards would appear continuous. Next I removed a triangular section. This triangle had to be equal on both sides for the joint to match up properly. It wasn't perfect but it worked pretty well in the end. I used a Festool Tracksaw for trimming the ends and cutting out the center, which is is an amazing tool btw.
Once I had my two sections, I lined up some mortise and tenon connections, this drastically improves the joint strength but is also super useful for aligning the sections when glueing - as long as you reference the same surface when making your mortises, the table surface will be flat and continuous after connected.
We also routed in pockets on either side to inset some hardware. This would allow us to glue the pieces together, clamp the pieces together, and then tighten down on the hardware to get a super tight joint while drying. Altogether, this joint was insanely strong and we could lift/flip the table from the ends. (the table base does have a center support though, so the top couldn't flex at this joint even under extreme load)
Step 4: Finish the Top
Finishing a top like this requires a lot of labor, but luckily the clients were AMAZING, and even came in from a party for a night of sanding ha
You get the glue scraped, orbital sand, finish by hand, then finish with conversion varnish in the spray booth.
This wood was locally sourced urban lumber, and it was BEAUTIFUL after such a nice finish was put on. The silver (ambrosian) maple - (which basically means it has imperfections in the tree meat that give it an awesome texture) paired really well with the darker walnut piece.
Hope you like, let me know what you think I am making some similar tables now and would love some fresh inspiration.