Around mid-2017, I was looking online for some more woodworking workshops or training programs that I could attend. I came across a maker space called THE (short for Think Happy Everyday), which was offering a weekend woodworking workshop conducted by a French master craftsman named Bram Rouws. This one was priced a bit lower than the first one I had attended. I spoke to Bram on the phone and he seemed knowledgeable, friendly and easy to talk to, so I signed up for it.
On Day One of the workshop we were provided with a piece of rubber wood that was 48” x 6” and 18mm thick. We were to use this to make a collapsible, traveling chair, where the seat slides through a slot in the backrest and the chair looks like an X from the side. If you slide the seat out of the slot, the chair can be flat-packed or just carried by hand. I took a long time to finish my chair as I couldn’t get the two pieces to fit together just right. I was the last participant to leave that day, well past 8pm in the midst of a heavy downpour. The pic below is of the piece I brought home after the workshop.
On Day Two, we were asked to choose a piece of wood and make something on our own. We had to have a clear idea of the design, work out the cutting plan based on the sizes of the different parts, and plan ahead of time how we would put it together, before actually making the piece. I decided to make a small side table to go with the chair that I had made on Day One.
I wanted to make a table that:
- did not look like a conventional table (i.e. a table top with four legs)
- would offer at least one adjustable or variable feature
- would provide storage for a few books, a coffee mug, spectacles or a mobile phone
- could be made with a single length of wood, with no wastage
- was put together using woodworking joinery and glue, without any screws or nails
After thinking of various design concepts, I arrived at a workable design, which I could describe as a rectangular box without a base and lid, turned onto its side. This design allowed me meet all the criteria I had laid down earlier. I had been keen to try dovetail joints, but time was short and box joints seemed more practical. Even so, I was able to finish cutting and dry fitting only three sides and had to complete the fourth side at home. This is what the piece looked like at the end of Day Two. Back home, I completed the box joints for the fourth side and glued it up.
Over the next few days, I did some research on stains, sealers and varnishes to see how I could finish these two pieces. At the local hardware store, I was able to get Teak stain and some clear PU varnish. I applied the stain with a flat brush and it was absorbed within a couple of minutes. I applied the varnish too with a brush, but it took much longer to dry as it was quite thick. I realised later that it’s better to dilute it with some thinner, which makes it easier to apply and it dries faster too. Here are some pics of the finished pieces.
I could have gone a bit darker with the stain to match the rest of my furniture, but this has a nice, warm feel too. The chair is quite comfortable to sit on but maybe not too long- it’s a good size for a child though. The table is small but sturdy, and I have used it several times as a side table/stool/laptop stand/book holder and more by placing it vertically, horizontally, or even on its side, as required. Both pieces have come in pretty handy so far 🙂