Walnut Credenza

A few years ago I got a call from my friend, Dan Mouradian, after I posted my walnut entry table to this blog. Dan is the kind of person that buys the obscure thing mentioned in  conversation while talking about Buckminster Fuller. The next week you get a call and are invited over to help build/play with said object, so it was clear to me then that we'd be collaborating at some point. We finally started in earnest at the beginning of the year and this is the result.

Photo: Dan Mouradian

Photo: Dan Mouradian

The credenza's dimensions are 9'-1" (2770mm) long, 2'-6" (760mm) high, and 1'-4" (410mm) deep. It sits below the TV and aligns with the verticals of the woodwork behind it. The credenza houses all of the TV's peripherals and the mesh front allows signals from remotes to pass through without interference. A single touch of the front panel and it raises up under its own power; fancy. The shell is solid black walnut (8/4; eight quarters or just under 2"), the plywood shelves are walnut veneer, the hardware is made by Blum, the front panel is poplar painted black covered in speaker mesh, the legs are custom milled aluminum, and the finish is rag applied tung oil. I'm not sure how much it weighs, but it takes two strong people to lift it.

The largest constraint of this piece was its length. It's both not easy to find 10' long quality hardwood and it's exponentially more difficult to work with large pieces. To that end, whenever a design makes it all the way to tangibility it's helpful to look back and see how reality affected the as-built design, so that's largely what this post will be about.

Drawing: Dan Mouradian

Pictured above is the drawing that Dan gave me. The majority of what's shown is true to the finished piece of furniture. The outside shell is joined using dominos (a miraculous machine made by Festool) and the veneered plywood shelves are routed into the shell and each other and the exposed plywood edges are covered with solid walnut and set back slightly.

The box/finger joints at the top corners were omitted. To make them we would have had to stand the table top up on the table saw which would mean we'd need roughly 12'+ clear  ceilings (double height spaces, always a good idea). That and said jig would need to be intense. We decided to devote our efforts elsewhere. To add to this, each piece that makes up the shell would have had to be about 4" longer to account for the box/finger joints. Getting large enough pieces was already difficult.

Credenza drawings.

Change #2 is the omission of the middle legs. The shell acts as a kind of quasi-beam, so the middle legs are unnecessary. Aluminum was chosen mostly for aesthetics, but it's also easier to machine.

Cut sheet.

The cut sheet lists all the pieces that are needed to build the final piece, how much material is needed, and how the pieces are to be fabricated. I didn't put enough effort into making this understandable for people beyond myself, so it didn't end up being that useful. Next time this should be a full sheet all scaled the same size so that it can be used in the shop.

Owl Lumber.

Dan ended up having to go to their regional warehouse to find 8/4 walnut that was long enough (9'+). If pieces couldn't be obtained in that length we would have had to join shorter pieces and glue them up. More work, more waste, and busier aesthetic.

Raw lumber.

Planing, jointing, and ripping to size. Squaring up raw material is a large part of woodworking, and it's hard work. This is at the Chicago School of Woodworking in Lincoln Square.

You can never have too many clamps.

Aluminum leg drawings. 

The mechanical connection is made via a threaded insert and piece of threaded rod. The design allows the legs to be unscrewed repeatedly without damaging the wood. The shoulder in the leg distributes the weight more evenly.

Photo: Brian Kristmann

This is one of the legs in a CNC lathe. Apparently the lathe didn't like the proportions. If we were to make it again I'd have to make it a bit thicker or decrease the length (I think?). Brian made the last aluminum legs I used to make a table. By comparison these legs were much quicker (cheaper) to make, easier to attach, and can be removed. Although the rectangular ones do look nice.

Thanks to Dan for including me in the project, and Brian and his father for entertaining my small projects.

Photo: Dan Mouradian