Saturday, June 11, 2011

Aurora Nightstand - Getting Started

For the last few weeks I've been toying around with the idea of building a copy of Darrell Peart's Arched Aurora Nightstand from the plans he published in the Winter, 2010 issue of Woodwork magazine.

Update, 28 December 2017:  It's getting hard these days to find a copy of that magazine, but you can download the plans for free here.

Router Jigs

I figured a good first step would be to make the router jigs that are needed to shape the curved parts of the table.  Darrell describes a very clever, multi-step procedure that involves four throw-away templates that are used to establish the curves on two of the jigs, followed by a second step that produces a third jig from one of the first two.

Unfortunately, this procedure requires some router bits and accessories that I didn't have, and one step looked particularly difficult to me.  Apparently it was particularly difficult for Darrell, too, as he notes in the article that "it may take more than one try to get useable results."

So, I decided to try a different approach.  I started by making accurate drawings of the jigs in a CAD program.  Then I printed full-size paper templates and pasted them on some 1/4" MDF.  Finally, I cut as close to the line as I could using a bandsaw, and then finished up with files and sandpaper.  That sounds simple and direct, but in the end it took me two tries to get it right anyway, because the first set of paper templates I printed was too small by just a tiny bit.

Darrell's jigs all have nifty toggle clamps and registration blocks to hold the workpieces in place as they're being shaped.  I made my "top arch jig" (Darrell's terminology) that way, too, because it has to work with some parts that are only 1/4" thick.  But for the others, which only have to work with thicker stock, I plan to just screw the jigs to the workpieces temporarily rather than mess around with the toggle clamps.  I would certainly make jigs more like Darrell's if I was planning to make a bunch of these tables.

Horizontal Router Table

Besides the jigs specifically needed for the table, I thought it would also be handy to have a horizontal router table to help cut the slots for the splines in the top.  So I made one very similar to the one shown here, except mine's not nearly as pretty. Hence, no pictures.

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