May 2021 Meeting Report - Part 1: Designing a Hall Table


Our primary talk was by our President, Carolyn Ellis, who talked about the hall table that she has been working on for a couple of years. Carolyn admitted to a serious case of nerves related to standing in front of the members and talking about her table. It was a brave thing to do and hopefully will inspire other members to volunteer to speak (hint hint).

The best way to describe the design and construction of Carolyn's table is that it is a series of problems that needed to be solved. The table started as a design exercise during a Michael Fortune design course that she took at the Perth Wood School a few years back. She was required to develop a design for a hall table and then build five models of the table for evaluation. The students were required to evaluate the models by viewing them from several angles, and then Michael would do strange things such as turning them upside down to give the students an appreciation for how the models look from different angles and in different lighting.

Carolyn made a full sized mockup of the table using 30mm insulation foam which allowed her to evaluate how the table would look in it's intended home. The advantage of making a mockup from such lightweight material is that it helped her identify flaws in the design which were not apparent from the models. The mockup revealed that the design of the legs would not prevent the table tipping over. The mockup also allowed her to identify small details that needed to be modified which weren't apparent in the models. The mockup proved to be very useful in the design process.

The size and shape of the table parts meant that Carolyn and collaboration partner Peter Bell, were forced to design custom jigs and fixtures so they could manufacture the table. For example, the mitred leg joinery required not only a jig that would be used to cut the mitred corners, but another jig that would allow them to prepare the angled floating tenons that were used in the joinery.

Melville Wood Turners

Morris Buzzacott Reserve
51 Williamson Rd
Kardinya WA 6163