Shaker Stand Rutland VT
West Rutland, VT
Fair Haven, VT
by Tim Johnson
Though it looks modern, the original version of this three-legged stand was built almost two hundred years ago in a community. Simple, pur-poseful and elegant, this is an outstanding example of Shaker design. Like the Shakers, we’ve embraced simplicity and innovation in our version of this timeless American classic. We’ve devised jigs to handle difficult steps like fitting the dovetail joints and shaping the boldly curved legs. We’ll show you how to turn the tapered column step-by -step. We’ll also show you how to glue up a great looking top.
Tools and Materials
You’ll need turning tools and a lathe with 20-in. spindle capacity for this project. You’ll also need a tablesaw, a jigsaw or bandsaw, a router, a router table and a pair of tin snips. A jointer and planer are recommended, but not essential (you can have your stock milled to thickness at the lumberyard). Also necessary are a pair of round-over bits, a pair of straight bits, a 1/2-in. dovetail bit with a long shank, a flush-trim bit with a top-mounted bearing, a 1-1/4-in. template guide and a 1-in. Forstner bit (see Sources, below).
Make the column (Fig. A, Part A, below) from a 2-1/4-in. turning square (see Sources, page 57) or by laminating 3/4-in. stock. You’ll need two column blanks (one is for practice and setup). In addition, you’ll need about 10 bd. ft. of 4/4 cherry for the top (B), subtop (C) and legs (D). We spent $105 for our lumber, including the turning squares.
Prepare the Column Blank
You don’t have to be an expert to turn the column. The curves are gradual, there are only a couple of abrupt transitions, and only one of the diameters is critical (see Oops!, below). Practice your technique on the extra blank. (You’ll use it later to set up the dovetail jig.)
First, make the square blank round (Photo 1). Hold the roughing gouge firmly on the tool rest and gently engage the spinning blank, slightly above its center axis. Then slide the gouge along the tool rest. Repeat the motion, making slightly deeper cuts with each pass. You’ll feel and hear the difference when the blank becomes round. Turn the last 3 in. of both ends to 2-in.-diameter cylinders (Photo 2).
Use the column template (Fig. A, Detail 2, below) to make a story stick. The story stick allows you to transfer key reference points to the column blank (Photo 3). Make sure the ends of the stick and blank are flush when you mark the reference points. At these points, cut in to the final diameter with a parting tool (Photo 4).
Shape the Column
Remove waste along the entire length of the blank as you shape the body and top (Photo 5). Finish the tapered body by reducing diameters until your reference cuts disappear (Photo 6). Switch to a small spindle gouge and finish the cup-shaped top (Photo 7).
Sand the shaft and top (Photo 8). Coarse paper (100 grit) ...