When Flat Isn't Enough - Cooper Curves!
As a newbie woodworker, the world of possible projects started to seem flat; ply carcass/carcase with face framed cabinets, overlay drawers, perhaps some quarter round or half round details, maybe a raised paneled door. Dadoes and rabbets/rebates "with a few brad nails to hold things in place while the glue dries" was the joinery within my range of capabilities. Mortise and tenons were future goals, biscuits filling in until then. Through and half blind dovetails had to wait for the funds to acquire The Dovetail Jig that'd open up the world of "real furniture making". Handcut dovetails were on the "when I get really good" list of things I'd like to learn to do - and do well.
Curves on the other hand weren't even on my "when I get really good" list, despite discovering that handcut dovetails weren't all that hard to learn to do - adequately. Finding out that half blind dovetails were actually easier to do than through dovetails came as a surprise.
But curves? There are angles to figure out, jigs needed to glue them up. How the hell do you cut a curved door on a table saw? Cross cutting and ripping flat stuff is easy - but curved pieces? The leap from flat to curves seemed too great to even consider -
a project came along that just begged for curves.
AND THEN . . .
there were curves.
I hope that what follows will get at least one visitor to try coopering - a cabinet door, a jewelry box or blanket chest top, the supports for a table - lots of possibilities. If I can do it then I'm betting anyone can. I'm going to try and show and describe what I did, what worked and what didn't work and why.
1. The Genesis - a small, quick and dirty cabinet for router bits
2A. Circles and Arrows - the mathematical approach to curves
2B. Skip the math and use a yardstick, compass, pencil & some string
......- a graphical approach to curves
2C. Staves on a Table Saw Method 1 - One Fence and One Blade Setup (Alternating Grain)
2D. Staves on a Table Saw Method 2 -One Fence and Two Blade Setups (Continuous Grain)
3A. Made the Parts - How Do I Hold Them During Glue Up? - Staves Glue Up Jigs?
3B. The Real World - Not All Staves Are Equal - Overlapping Doors, Outside Edge Angles
4. The Value of Prototypes - just do it! (using scraps of course)
5. The Joinery for the Cabinet - stopped sliding dovetails (with an OOPS)
6. ARRRRRGGH! Knife Hinges - looks simple - ISN'T
7. OOPS! - yet another case of "and things were going so well"