Sunday, January 2, 2011

Coat Tree

This was fun. How often do you get to make a tree from pieces of wood? Usually wood comes as a tree and you have to make something else. I  wouldn't have thought of this project if son Dylan hadn't suggested it as a possible Christmas gift. We had a coat tree by the front door in the home of my childhood but I don't think of homes using them these days. Instead there is a closet or hooks on the wall or nothing. The latter is what he had in his apartment and coats piled up on the furniture.

When beginning a design I usually take a look at what has been done for possible ideas and to get standard or approximate dimensions. Then the wheels start turning with a flow of ideas and possibilities that seem to float by until I know what I'm going to do. I don't know what triggered incorporating a stone except that I'm generally drawn to work that uses these fundamental materials. And it made good sense to add weight and stability to something that is normally top heavy in use.

Before any other work I went looking for a stone. I left work early and drove out to Nature's Cover, a local landscape materials business. The yard man showed me a couple piles of river rocks and in the cold and growing darkness I searched for the right one. Most were smaller than I had in mind but I picked three I thought might work. "How much?" "Just those three? You can have those and happy holiday to you".

I only started this project a week earlier so Christmas day I wrapped just the stone with a note that said,"I'm making something for you. This is the only part that is finished". A nice curve ball that left him swinging with guesses.

The technical details - I glued up some 6/4 stock to get a 3 x 3 post, then ripped it into a hexagon. Figured out how to get a hexagon from a square using some web origami instructions.

All the curved parts are bent lamination, a technique I prefer over cutting curved parts from wide stock. They are much stronger and thus can be lighter. The legs were made up of 13 strips a little over 1/16th" thick glued together on a form. The branches used the same form but only 9 laminations and then cut into two pieces and shaped.

The only hardware is a 6" steel ring with three arms that I had a local shop fabricate. It is fastened with screws to the legs giving them needed rigidity and supports the stone and its platform.

Shaping was done primarily with an abrasive carbide wheel on an angle grinder followed by an inflatable sanding drum mounted in a drill. Using the drum right up to finish sanding maintained an irregular surface not unlike a debarked tree might have and feels nice to touch.


rtuts said...

It's covered in coats already! Doing its job well :)

Bruce said...

any way you would make one to sell?

jerry said...

You know I love your work, but perdone moi, I have two distracting images... roots grasping a rock (not so much, since they don't) and a large expulsion from a tubular source. Is it a voiding, or a birthing, metaphor? Either way, ouch. Beautiful execution, though, as I have come to expect from you.

"One man's vision is another man's perception."
- Thing tu much, 8th century China