The Champion Table Build, Part 5: Carving and Inlay

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sanding and refining the shape of the legs
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carving some details into the lower horizontal member of the leg assemblies
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“C” for Champion
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the lower leg joints, reinforced with screws, concealed by pegs
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cut flush and sanded
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the legs are finished, awaiting only final sanding immediately prior to finishing
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refining the shape of the arc, the brace between the leg assemblies
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one of many facet transitions and chamfers across the arc
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another of those transitions, in this case, the arcs contribution to the connecting joint
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adjusting the shoulder of the arc where it meets the walnut of the leg assembly
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a lot of enjoyment watching the play of light and shadow
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lets of test fitting of the base
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my son roughing out a billet of walnut for some stubby spindles. The spindles will connect the arc to the top-central horizontal rail connecting the leg assemblies, preventing any propensity to rack along the length of the table
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here are the spindles in place as well as a bit of carving on the side of the arc
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another view of the arc, upside down, an enjoyable shape- part moon, part smile, part rainbow, part horns, it is one of my favorite parts of this table
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beginning work on the table-top again- softening the edges with a block plane
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after making paper versions, laying out some walnut shapes that will be inlayed into the table-top
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re-sawing bits of highly figured walnut for all of the special details
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along with the decorative inlays, being positioned here are some butterfly-keys, which help to stabilize the splits and inclusions in the walnut making up the table-top
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after determining the composition and placement, all the parts get some double-sided carpet tape…
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…and are then stuck in place so that they don’t shift when their outlines are being scribed into the top with a knife
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after everything has been scribed, the majority of the cavity is established with a small spiral carbide bit in the electric router
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the rest of the inlay cavity is cut out with sharp chisels. The scribe-line is particularly nice at this stage, giving a positive registration for the tip of the chisel
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there was a place on one of the walnut planks that had a corner that couldn’t get reconciled in the flattening stages without making it too thin- the remedy was a patch of really pretty walnut
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clamps were used on the top, where they could reach whatever was being inlayed
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cleaning the floor and corners of one of the recesses for those butterfly keys
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glue and clamp…
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a little congregation of butterflies ready to be made flush with the top, the crack itself, will get filled with epoxy, after the bark has been removed
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cutting out some of the inlay cavities for the central design
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lots of chopping up to the line
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there are a lot of pictures of me hunched over the top of this table, because I was hunched over the top of this table a lot
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piece by piece, being tapped into place with my indispensable two-sided rubber mallet
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planing the first round of inlays fush to the surface
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glueing up some ebony for the next round of inlay work
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the elements of the central design positioned and ready
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a few more ebony details being cut out at the scroll saw
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the slow process of accurately scribing every edge with an “Exacto” knife
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clearing out as much as possible with the router, carefully to stay just shy of my lines
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my life for a good portion of October
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ofter hours of knife, chisel, and dental tool work, the inlay cavity for the crown of thorns is about ready for the ebony
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a modified dental tool in action clearing out the acute corners of the cavities, somewhat appropriate
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…still hunched over…
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some of the inlay uses molten sulphur… being melted here in a spoon
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molten sulphur is an eerie and beautiful thing, if not pungent to the point of being toxic
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poured into carved voids it marks a lovely luminous contrast to black walnut
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also very porous- not so good for a table top- an improved sulfur inlay was devised. First grinding some sulphur crystals with mortar and pestle…
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the sulphur pigment is then introduced to some two-part epoxy
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the resultant paste is pressed into the top layer of the earlier sulphur inlay, filling the pores and yielding a slightly tougher surface
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the inlay work done and all the other voids being filled with epoxy, final sanding has begun
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as the process goes, there are many flaws in my inlay work that need to be addressed. Out come the pigments and filler
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it is an enjoyable process that takes me into the realms of another of my lines of work
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then more sanding
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this marks the end of this second to last post in the building of the Champion Table, I won’t reveal the finished piece until it’s new owners have had a chance to see it in person. Thank you all for offering your support and comments, or just following along silently. I remain immensely grateful for the kind encouragement which each represents, and I look forward to sharing the finished piece with you all as well.

6 thoughts on “The Champion Table Build, Part 5: Carving and Inlay

  1. This is incredible. I love seeing the inlay process and the molten sulfur. Amazing, my friend! Thank you for sharing all of these images!

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