Earlier in the year you may remember we were working on some laboratory furniture for Coventry University? This was phase 1 of the project for Coventry Uni through Deeley Construction, phase 2 was equally as interesting as phase 1, this part of the order was for some bespoke lockers and 2 solid Ash curved screens. Neither of these are particularly new to us as we have experience in both items but it was still a nice job to be a part of.
We’ll start with the screens as these were the first pieces we tackled. Dexter is the joinery man so he was given the job and he ran with it, I don’t think I can remember him being so quiet, he clearly enjoyed it. Part of the contract was to produce templates for the openings to be formed in the wall. Dexter machined these out from a set out I produced on the computer, before he started we got our heads together and plotted it on the board and using a router on a spinning jig (a large and more dangerous form of a compass you use to drawer circles) he formed the shape. This gave him the jig/template to form the frame, using this template he made a bigger template which was taken to site for the builders to from the aperture.
To make a curved window or door frame you first need a shape, once you have the shape you then make jigs which you will use to mark out, cut out and finish your timber with. It’s incredibly important to get these right as they are essentially the foundation. Dexter produced his jigs and marked out his timber and cut the shapes out on the bandsaw. Using a bearing fitted to the spindle moulder and with the help of Charlie he machined the various shapes to his jigs.
The next step is the fitting, when machining the shapes you purposefully leave them long. There are two reasons for this, one is for run on and run off when machining, when forming curved pieces there is an element of cutting and machining against the grain and timber is at its weakest there, so you may be machining carefully and slowly, then BANG the end flies off at the speed of a bullet! (slight exaggeration but I did dent the back of the van from a projectile piece of wood once – right in front of John, who had just paid to have all the dents taken out of it and have it re-sprayed. Sorry Dad…….) anyway….. if you leave some on the end for this to happen, you’re going to be OK, the second reason is for fitting. The process requires you to work using your set out to lay each piece in place and cut the ends to meet the ends of the other pieces in a neat and symmetrical way, which when glued and sometimes screwed or doweled together will hold the required shape.
Unfortunately you cant just glue the ends together and expect it to stay together, you have to fit and fix it all together in layers so it holds its shape. Using his template and the method above Dexter cut each piece to fit and then clamped it all together on the jig to ensure it stayed true to the desired shape. Once cured he sanded the frame up, beaded it (a very similar process to that detailed above) and lacquered it. A template was also produced for glass which he delivered to the glass supplier who would cut it out using a water jet machine.
The site manager gave me a call to say they were ready to receive the frames, so Dexter and I took a drive over and fitted them into the apertures. They fit perfectly, producing the template really payed off. We fixed the frames and left the builders to plaster up to the frames, we would return in a couple of weeks to fit the glass.
We had a mammoth task to deliver everything to the second floor (more on this in part two) so in the grand scheme of things a couple of pieces of glass weren’t too much of an issue. Arriving to site we saw that the plasterers on site had done a cracking job forming a curve from plasterboard and skimming up to the frame. The moment of truth, would the glass fit? Was the template correct? Had the glass company cut it correctly?
Every so often we get to do some specialist joinery and we love it. let me know what you think of the finish and design!
Have a great weekend!