Friday, September 13, 2013

Cocobolo Sideboard

Kathy had a nice new corner office, and wanted another piece of furniture for some decorative storage and a little pizzazz. The rest of her furniture was nice -- dark brown and appropriately serious -- but she wanted this new piece to be more reflective of who she is. We decided on a small sideboard, which would give her storage for those things she wanted to hide (papers, folders, plastic cups) and things she wanted to display (photos, awards, objets d'art). Here's the final design we developed together; the colored glass in the sliding doors picks up the hues in her upholstery:

For the pizzazz part of the equation, we decided on quartersawn cocobolo veneer: the deep reds and browns would harmonize with the colors in her existing furniture, but the quartersawing would keep the grain from getting too wild and overwhelming this relatively small piece. Flat sawn cocobolo can get pretty swirly, as you can see the first photo; the second photo shows quartersawn cocbolo, revealing how nice and straight -- almost calm -- the grain becomes:

Certainly Wood in East Aurora, NY had a some great new flitches of quartersawn cocbolo in, so we got the veneer from them. Building the piece from solid cocobolo would have been extravagantly expensive and a poor use of rare materials; further, the figure of the solid stock would not have been nearly as consistent as the veneer, creating disharmony in this otherwise serene design. Anyway, here we are going through it and cutting it up:

Next we jointed the pieces and taped it up into panel sized pieces:

We use a vacuum veneer press to press the veneer onto the panels; the press is like a big shrink-wrap bag. The veneer is on the bottom caul underneath the panels that are being veneered; there are thin cauls on top of the panels to protect their corners from the bag -- and the protect the bag from their corners. Here's the press in action:

A little while later, after all the joinery and assembly is complete -- the case is assembled with multiple blind splines -- we rolled the sideboard into the spray booth where we sprayed on a satin-sheen lacquer. The lacquer protects the veneer from mild forms of abuse, but doesn't have a thick, plastic-like look. Here it is in the booth:

The sideboard is now complete and sitting in Kathy's office; she likes this little bit of whimsy Here it is:


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