Monthly Archives: April 2014

Finn Juhl Coffee Table–Design

Finn Juhl coffee table

Finn Juhl’s design features a beveled top suspended above a simple base distinguished by turned, tapered legs.

For my next project I’m jumping out of my usual Arts & Crafts period work several decades to build a Mid-century Modern coffee table by the Danish designer Finn Juhl. Juhl’s table features a beveled top suspended above its base by six dowels. Turned, tapered legs distinguish the rectilinear base.

The coffee table, along with sideboard, is perhaps the signature piece of mid-Century furniture, in much the same way the Morris chair has become emblematic of Arts & Crafts furniture. And Juhl’s table is an intriguing example of the form. He used the floating top elsewhere in his designs, but more often in his chairs, making its appearance as a table top a bit of an aberration. The original was built of teak, but I’m contemplating a version in fir or cherry, depending how closely I want to hew to the original construction, which features a veneered top banded with solid wood edging. If I follow suit, I’ll use some cherry plywood left over from an old project. If I opt for a solid wood top, I’ll be able to use some wide fir boards I picked up when a local sawyer moved shop to Alaska. Of course a solid wood top creates the potential for movement problems with seasonal changes in humidity, but I think there’s enough flex in how the top joins the base to absorb that movement. Continue reading


shoji-inspired trellis

36 lap joints later, the trellis is finished. Its paired boards echo the fence lattice.

The hardest part about completing the trellis was managing the slope of the patio. I began construction by laying out the notches for the joinery on 5/4 x 4 cedar boards, then began cutting the notches–36 in all. I took that effort in stages, beginning with the horizontal boards. I began by defining each edge of the notch with my dozuki, then making a couple of additional cuts across the notch, then popping the waste free with a chisel and paring the joint relatively even. Cedar is easy to work by hand, so this went fairly quickly, but I was ready to try the router when it came time to notch the vertical members. Continue reading

An arbor-topped fence

arbor-topped fence

Detail from an arbor-topped fence.

My morning walk with the dog sometimes takes me through alleys in the neighborhood. These are, understandably, often utilitarian spaces–waste and recycling containers feature prominently–but a surprising number of people take care with the backs of their homes even though the won’t be seen by many. There’s a one-block stretch of well-paved alley where every garage s neatly maintained in styles to complement the houses, complete with Craftsman-appropriate lighting and numbering. On another, an espaliered tree is carefully trained to outline an unassuming side window.  Continue reading

Book Review: Chris Schwarz’s Campaign Furniture

a Campaign-style bookcase

A traveling bookcase shows the minimalist appeal of the Campaign style.

I’ve been following Chris Schwarz’s writing on campaign furniture on his blog and in his articles for Popular Woodworking with interest, so I’ve been looking forward to the release of Campaign Furniture. It was worth the wait.

Schwarz begins with a brief introduction to the style and surveys the wood and hardware used in building these pieces before moving to the heart of the book, how to build eight campaign pieces: chest, secretary, camp stool, Roorkee chair, trunk, desk, bookshelf, and traveling bookcase. Schwarz has distinguished himself as a proponent of hand-tool techniques, and that shows in how he approaches construction here, but he outlines alternative approaches for building with power tools. And these aren’t merely step-by-step instructions for reproducing exactly these projects; Schwarz provides direction for variation in the final product. This flexibility is especially useful for woodworkers looking to move from replication of existing work to building their own pieces. A collection of historical sources closes book (as a fan of original catalogs as a source of inspiration, I especially enjoyed the excerpts from Army & Navy Co-Operative Society’s catalogs). The book itself is a delightful physical object, printed on quality stock and lavishly illustrated with photos and period artwork. I did wish at times that it had been printed to a larger page size, especially when I had to turn a page to see a photo illustrating text I had a hard time visualizing.

While it’s unlikely I will build a piece of campaign furniture, I still found the book useful for a number of reasons. Schwarz is an engaging writer, and his enthusiasm for the style is evident in his prose. There are construction techniques that I can appropriate building in other styles, and the style provides some useful design solutions for anyone looking for practical, portable furniture (the drop-front drawer serving as a desk, for example, could find application in any chest of drawers, regardless of period, and suggests interesting possibilities for built-ins as well). While it might not be the best place to start for novices, Campaign Furniture is worthwhile for more advanced woodworkers, whether or not they plan on building in the style.

More Information

Read more about Campaign Furniture or purchase it from the publisher here.