Coffee Grind

IMG_7942Years ago I had a student that wanted to build a Nakashima style dining table, but he didn’t like the way the bases were designed. He did, however, like some of the sculptural work of Wendell Castle. This brought to mind the idea of combining designs to create something new.

I sketched some stack-laminated bases and the student loved the idea. He came to the shop for a week and we built his hybrid (Nakashima-Castle) dining table. And after it was done and the student took his table home, I was left with a bunch of short, 8/4 cherry cutoffs. I could burn them and heat the shop for a little while, but I had so much fun with the stack-laminated bases I thought I’d try to design something that used the short pieces.

IMG_7940My dad liked to sit and do crossword puzzle in the morning while drinking his coffee. Years ago I had made him a simple stand consisting of a cherry column with a round Corian top for his mug. With all those leftover cherry scraps from the dining table, I thought I’d try my hand at a more artistic version – and so the sculpted coffee stand was born.

My first effort was freeform and rather smooth. The more coffee stands I made, the more I realized I liked the way they looked before I smoothed everything out. The fact that they looked like tree trunks or some other naturally occurring thing really appealed to me. I started leaving them rougher and finished them to look like polished bronze or bark; my customers loved them and so did I.

If you’d like to learn how I make these sculpted stands, you’ll need to be a 360 WoodWorking subscriber (click here and choose your subscription). My latest article, “What a Grind: A Laminated Coffee Cup Stand” appears in Issue #3 of 360 WoodWorking. In it I go through the entire process of making a stand. The best part is, they can be scaled up to make some great end tables too.

— Dale Barnard

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