Anyone looking for versatile, modern and inexpensive furniture has to look no further than PlyDesign (Storey Publishing, 2012) by Philip Schmidt. Schmidt, a former carpenter, offers toys, games and furnishings suited for everyone. Each design is crafted using plywood, or a number of other readily available sheet materials. The following excerpt provides an easy to disassemble plywood alliance table that's perfect for small spaces.
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Designed by Fawn Brokaw
Like many of the best knockdown furniture designs, the Alliance Table is a clever assembly of parts that are cut out and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Here, cutting out the round tabletop forms the large, semicircular cutouts on the legs, while cutting the two smaller arches on the legs produces cutouts that become a stabilizing disk on the bottom of the tabletop. The entire work is produced from a single 2 x 4-foot piece of 1/2” plywood, a precut size commonly available in home centers and building supply stores. With a little bit of figuring, the Alliance Table design can be scaled up or down to accommodate different table dimensions or sheet materials. And, as if this concept weren’t clever enough, it’s just as easy to create two sets of legs and add a large oval top to create a sofa table or console table.
• One 2 x 4-foot piece 1/2” plywood
• Wood glue
• Finish materials (as desired)
• Homemade compass (see Slideshow)
• Jigsaw with thin, fine-tooth wood blade
1. Lay out the table parts.
Start the layout by drawing a grid of construction lines on the 2 x 4-foot piece of plywood. Make a horizontal centerline across the panel, then make three vertical lines (perpendicular to the horizontal) at 12", 24", and 36".
Set a homemade compass for a 10" radius. Draw a 20"-diameter circle around the centerpoint of the panel to mark the Top 1 piece. Then draw two semicircles (with 20" diameters) at each side edge of the panel, with the pivot point of the compass set at the very ends of the horizontal centerline; these semicircles are extra (or waste) pieces.
Draw four 8"-diameter semicircles, pivoting at the very ends of the two outer vertical lines on the top and bottom panel edges, to form the arched tops and bottoms of the legs. (Two of the semicircles you’ve just marked will become Top A and Top B.) Mark 1/2”-wide slots extending from one semicircle to the horizontal centerline on each leg, as shown in the cutting diagram.
Finally, mark the two 2" and one 4" cutouts with straight lines starting from the top edge of the panel, as shown in the diagram; these are waste.
2. Cut the parts.
Cut along the layout lines with a jigsaw. Be sure to cut on the inside (slot side) of the slot lines to ensure a tight fit during assembly. You can always sand or file the slots if the fit is too tight. Carefully freehand the curved cuts with the jigsaw, or use a homemade circle jig, or trammel. When cutting out the legs, remember that you will use two of the small semicircles at the top and bottom and the adjoining Top 1 cutout, so make these cuts with extra care. Start the Top 1 cutout somewhere within the 4" waste piece between the two legs.
3. Add the top support disk.
The disk that serves as a cleat to keep the tabletop in place is made up of two of the small semicircles cut from the top and bottom of the legs. Find the two semicircles that fit together best and arrange them on the bottom face of the top, centering them perfectly. Mark the outer edges of the disk pieces for placement reference. Apply glue and clamp the semicircles to the top, following your reference marks. Let the glue dry.
4. Fit and finish the table.
Test-fit the legs by fitting their opposing slots together. If the fit is too tight, carefully file or sand both edges of each slot (to keep things centered) just until a snug fit is achieved.
Assemble the legs and test-fit the top (the cleat made by Top A and Top B should fit snugly into the semicircular cutouts in the tops of the legs). If you prefer a snugger fit here, you can glue small, thin strips of wood to the top inside edges of the leg cutouts, as needed.
Finish-sand all the pieces, and apply the finish of your choice. (If you like, you can glue the legs together, after sanding and before finishing the pieces.) To prevent sticking with surface-type finishes (polyurethane, paint, et cetera), make sure the finish cures before assembling the table.
Excerpted from PlyDesign © Phillip Schmidt, illustrations © Michael Gellatly and Peter Sherratt, used with permission from Storey Publishing. Buy this book from our store: PlyDesign.
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