Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fairing a Curve

   The bottom of the TV cabinet has a gentle, sweeping curvature which you can see in the drawing I was given from the interior designer.  This can present a problem because it is basically a free form curve that you need to lay out.  It's virtually impossible to draw both sides of the curve and have them be the same so it's best to only do half of it at a time.  I use a thin but flexible piece of wood to draw in the curve on a piece of masonite.  The first step is to sketch in the curve freehand, technical term for that is to "eyeball it".  The only critical place is where the curve runs into the legs at the sides and also the center point of the panel.  Once it's roughly sketched onto the pattern piece I'll use the flexible piece of wood and force it into the shape I'm after.  By placing a clamp where the curve begins I can then force it to go where I think it looks good.  Sometimes you'll find that you need more than two hands, thanks Diane!
  I like to use masonite or MDF for the pattern because after cutting it on the bandsaw it's easy to file and sand to a smooth, fair curve.  Before cutting it out on the panel you should draw it in and see if it really is what you're after.  In this case, my first pattern ended too abruptly in the center.  After modifying it to look better it was drawn onto the panel and cut out with a jig saw.  This was followed by clamping the pattern back on and carefully lining up the center point.  Using a small router with a pattern bit smoothed the curve exactly like the pattern.  In the picture the left side is done and the pattern set to cut the right side.  Once the piece is assembled there will be a composition ornament line of carving applied along the entire curve that will run into the legs.
  I'm ready to begin assembly but it's been so hot in the shop the glue would set up before I can get it all clamped.  Probably need to bring it inside the house to accomplish that.  The columns need to be detailed out by using tadpole sanders inside of the flutes and smoothing out the edge chamfers with a block plane.  Once that's done I can begin to install the lift mechanism.

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