Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cant sidetable

So the third design i am featuring in this blog series is my 'cant' sidetable. This has proved a popular design and has attracted alot of attention. The idea for this came to me a few years ago now with the thought process of having the useable surface of furniture detached and reordered depending on what the use of the item was. There was a whole series of pieces based on this concept but i chose the sidetable to make as it proved a easy design to make in terms of size. The main idea of this series from an asethetic point of view was to have the table surface only held from one side and then occupy a void space within that frame to detach itself and reorder the basic idea of a table.

The original proposal was to have the frame inside the table top and held by one end, but this proved to be too complex from an engineering side to make a reality so i reversed my idea and had the table top protrude from the framework. This also was not an easy idea to make reality due to the obvious engineering principles involved and the idea of making the cantilever structure work. So i made lots mockups to test these issues/ideas and the second photo shows the working prototype i made to see how much weight the table top could hold. Also when i made this mock up i found that this design also had another benefit in that it emphasised the framework of the piece and gave it another function in that you could clip a lamp to the frame or drape magazines over it. So this principle pulled the framework out of the design so to speak and gave it dual functons.
  Just to touch on the layout of the frame work, i had played around with different arrangements of how the frame looked and stood and the other designs in this series have different frame designs based on the same concept, but this layout was chosen to give the best possible look to the table to emphasise the cantilever top and show the table top almost hovering in the framework.
The next phase was to choose the right wood to make the frame from and then find a suitable material for the table top. I chose Ash as it is naturally a very strong, straight grained wood that can colour well and has a smooth finished once worked, the table top proved more tricky though. I could not use glass because at 10mm ( this was the only thickness that seemed to suit so the table top was not lost in the frame if it was too thin) it was too heavy to make the cantilever design work as intended so i turned to acrylic which was strong enough but significantly lighter.
  Once the materials were sourced the making could begin and it was a simple procedure of making the frame with strong but simple dowel butt joints, but great care had to be taken to ensure the frame was square and did not list or twist to one side as this would upset the cantilever top.

Once the frame was made the next critical part was making the slot in the frame to house the acrylic sheet. The original idea would have had the arcylic inside the frame and not showing from the other side, but my tests proved that this was not possible from a strength point of view and to achieve the cantilever principle and make it work the acrylic sheet had to go all the way through the frame work. so a router was used to bore out this slot in the solid ash.
To secure the sheet into the frame it is simply screwed through into the frame from the bottom to aid the strength and obvioulsy stop the table top moving. Once this finished table was sealed and waxed to protect the wood i tested how much weight could be put on the table top. From my test models i knew it could support a fair bit of weight and found it could hold 2kg, which i think is a fairly big weight for a small side table, so i was pleased with this.
  This table like my other designs is available to buy from and is also viewable on my online portfolio's on and

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