A while back I wrote about a fence design I liked so much that I gave it a name; The Craftsman. This fence has probably become my signature design. It’s nothing outlandish in its design. It has a simple elegance to it and the workmanship I put into it are hallmarks of both Craftsman architecture and furniture builds.
An opportunity presented itself to work with a client who liked this style, but wanted to alter the top lattice work. The main components would stay the same but the lattice would be of the diagonal variety and the cap would be curved. I love curves and was excited to make some alterations to a design I was already very fond of. The lattice would still be made just like in the original Craftsman fence, but the cap would use a technique called bent lamination to get the curve we wanted. I’ve used bent lamination in wood working when building garden benches and rockers for rocking chairs, but had never used it on a large scale like this.
Once I determined the layout of the curve the next step was building a form that would allow me to clamp several thin strips together to then have what amounted to a curved 2×4. I ended up building a couple of these forms and investing in several more clamps to to accommodate the number of curved caps that would be needed.
While these were occupying one side of my shop I built another form that would allow me to build the diagonal lattice that I wanted for this project. You can buy the manufactured stuff, but building your own is by far the the better option. The quality aspect can’t be beat, but it has a different “feel” too it as well. That may not make a lot of sense. It’s something that has to be experienced.
With the form for the lattice made I could begin assembling the the lattice panels. I oversized these slightly knowing that I would cut them to fit once I was back on site. All of this work is completed in the workshop. Then the curved top caps and lattice are brought to the site to be fitted.
The last item to be performed in the shop is applying a coat of finish to the solid wood post caps. I do this primarily to protect the end grain. This is the weak link in wood and is where you begin to see breakdown of the material first. Sealing this slows down that process and offers protection.
With the shop work complete it’s time to take all of these made components to the site and begin installing them. This is a true joy! The time spent is rewarded by the beauty that is in the completed work. Beautifully made things are rarely manifested without the sacrifice of ones time.
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