Creating Curved End-Tables
Updated: Feb 15
Creating the wooden Curve.
Building a curve in furniture requires precision, preparation, and patience.
We settled on this design which ticked all the boxes of a side table, a drawer, a shelf to reduce visual clutter, and a mid-century modern design concept. They had many square elements in the room so we thought these curves would provide some grace and sensuality.
Fantastic! The design is complete! Now it's time to decide how to build this furniture. Each component is considered as I design, but knowing exactly how I'll choose to make all the parts leaves many questions. There are so many ways of going about this process! The maker must be in tune with themselves to understand what will work for them and make thousands of decisions to pull this off.
First, the curves.
We need to create a mold to build a curved wall in wood and make it look like one piece. Many pieces of walnut will be glued together in the shape of the desired curve. This will create the cabinet's main curved walls that house the drawer.
This entails building a mold in the shape of the outside curve and inside curve minus the walnut wall we are making. Yes, it's a bit like math. That space between the curved mold-units must be perfectly sized to allow for the correct pressure when gluing up the sandwiched walnut.
First, we make the mold sections, then we glue them together to create a straight wall between each mold. For that space, I calculate my pieces' thickness and allow a little room for glue. I make one mold piece rigid and the other slightly flexible.
On the right is a photo depicting the mold parts. The interior is maintained by the A bar that closes the shape. This helps to maintain the integrity of the curve.
Next, we glue this all together and check the spacing. Once we have this just right we mill thin strips of walnut and steam them so they will bend without breaking. I did this the inexpensive way with heavy-duty aluminum foil, a couple of irons, and a soaking wet towel. Each piece of walnut is wrapped completely in the towel, then the whole thing is sealed in foil. Iron to create steam.
Next, we dry the pieces maintaining a curve.
I was delighted with the end results of the curves! The walls will be glued with 14 pieces of walnut including a bendy board spacer in the core.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned to see the rest of the construction!