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272132 Thomas Conroy 2020‑11‑20 Re: Serpentine table and chair legs
Hi, Joe,
You don't mention steam-bending. That may be an option. Another may be to
laminate each leg out of two or three full-length pieces, staggered so that the
short grain occurs in different places. If you want to use short pieces, overlap
two layers by half-lengths, like a brick-built turned pot.
Or a combination of methods. Steam-bend a thinnish wide piece, bending it the
easy way, and then build up a series of blocks on each side of it to add bulk
and hold it rigid.Sort of like a Turkish recurved or a Chinese/Japanese recurved
bow.
What you describe sounds like the aesthetic of the legs is (for one leg): start
at right top---curve in to meet (perhaps touch) another leg at center---curve
out again to meet ground at right bottom. If the legs actually touch at the
center, you might be able to carve them so that the apparent in-out aesthetic is
preserved while using a constructional crossing shape, like a simple x-chair,
incorporating a solid joint at the crossing. This would give a leg that went:
start at top right---curve in to touch at center---cross and continue to meet
ground at left bottom. Depending the actual lines of the shape you want, and the
wood you have, this might or might not give straighter constructional lines than
the in-out shape. Thhe gimmick to this approach would be the tromp-l'oeil
carving at the crossing of the legs.

This is way beyond anything I've ever done, so be wary of my advice.
Nevertheless, I have a strong opinion: don't allow areas of short grain. If you
do, you are certain to have broken legs from time to time.
That's it, for what it's worth.

Tom Conroy
Advice for all! Advice for all! Worth what you paid for it!




    On Thursday, November 19, 2020, 2:43:09 PM PST, joe@j...  wrote:  
 
 OH wise ones:

In the next few months or maybe a year or so, I am going to try to make an
oval occasional table, say 24-30 inches in height, with  serpentine legs.
By that I mean that the legs will arc in from the edges to a center point,
and then do reverse arc to the floor, maybe with a re-curve.  The idea is
rococo influenced, but contemporary.

The engineering is not clear to me.  If I cut the legs out of single pieces
of timber -- even using rift sawn wood as I always do for legs, the curves
are probably going to have stretches of short grain that will make them
weak.  That is probably so even if I use wide boards and cut on the bias.  I
don't have any natural knees of the sort favored by shipwrights.

Am I over thinking this?

Has anyone done this?  Does anyone know how it was classically done so that
the furniture will survive?  Should I joint pieces so as to avoid short
grain? If so, how, using what joint?  A butt joint would be at least as weak
as short grain.

Cheers!

Joe

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