Guerilla Furniture Design: making your home beautiful with waste materials
Will Holman is a maker's maker whose HOWTOs have graced Make, Instructables, Readymade and other hotbeds of DIY; his new book Guerilla Furniture Design is a beautifully written and inspiring design manifesto disguised as a project book,
Holman learned his craft while residing at Arcosanti, the utopian design-community in the Arizona desert that is meant to be a beta-version of an arcology. By raiding the middens of an environmentally conscious experimental community, he found the raw materials necessary to furnish his rooms and workshop.
Guerilla Furniture Design is a project book, but it's more than that. It's broken into four sections -- paper, wood, plastic and metal -- and each one opens with a lay-friendly material science briefing that explains the theory and practice of working with each material. This theory is counterpointed with the projects that follow, which each build on the skills acquired in the previous one.
Holman isn't just a great writer and teacher, he's a gifted designer. The housewares in this book are, to a one, beautiful. Each one exploits, rather than disguising, its humble origins, making a show of the fact that it is built out of garbage pulled from a dumpster or rescued from a curb.
Like all good project books, the point of these projects is to teach you to make up your own, to transfer the skills needed to let your imagination, your needs, and the material abundance of your immediately neighborhood converge on things that make your home more beautiful and livable.
Storey press was kind enough to give us my favorite of these projects, a 12-foot-long dining room table made from scrap lumber that I dream of making myself someday.
Nothing beats a gathering of friends around a big table, raucous with laughter, food, and wine. Nothing brings a room of strangers together like sitting at a community table on bench seating, elbows rubbing. The Scrap Table is 12 feet of gathering goodness, made of lots of tiny pieces laminated with glue and threaded rods. A trestle base is laminated right into the top, making structure and surface inseparable. All the variegated pieces, planed and sanded smooth, turn the wood into petrified strata.
* Two 8-foot 2x6s
* Two 8-foot 2x8s
* Wood glue
* 1 pound 3" coarse-thread #8 drywall or deck screws
* Scrap wood strips, 1 ¾" to 4" wide
* 2 pounds 2 ½" coarse-thread #8 drywall or deck screws
* Five ½"-diameter x 36" galvanized threaded rods
* Ten ½" galvanized nuts
* Ten ½" galvanized washers
* Polyurethane glue
* Two ¾"-diameter x 36" galvanized threaded rods
* Eight ¾" galvanized nuts
* Sixteen ¾" galvanized washers
* Finish of your choice
* Tape measure
* Miter saw
* Block plane
* Drill/driver and 5/8" and 1" spade bits
* Circular saw and straightedge guide
* Ratchet wrench
* Clamps (optional)
* Ratchet straps (optional)
* Locking pliers
* Belt sander and 80- and 100-grit belts
* Orbital sander with 120-grit sandpaper
Steps 1. Cut the 2x6s into eight 48" blanks for the legs. Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner of each leg piece, then cut each into two triangles with the circular saw. You should end up with eight leg blanks that are 5 ½" wide at one end and sharply pointed (0" wide) at the other.
2. Miter the wide end of each leg to 15 degrees, making sure to register the factory edge of each blank against the saw’s fence. Cut off as little as possible to achieve the miter. Measuring from the freshly mitered end, along the factory edge, cut each leg to length at 31", with a 15-degree miter that’s parallel to the first. Ease all cut edges lightly with a block plane or sanding block.
3. Measure up 8" from the thin (floor end) of each leg and drill a 1" hole, centered in the width of the piece.
4. Prepare the 2x8 trestle boards by making two marks along the bottom edge of each board, 18" in from the ends. Then make a mark 2" down from the top at the end of each board. Connect these two marks and cut with a circular saw to create the taper, as shown at right. Ease all cut edges lightly with a block plane or sanding block.
5. Align one leg on one trestle so that the wide end of the leg is flush with the top of the trestle and the factory edge intersects the end of the taper in the trestle, as shown at right. Glue and screw the pieces with four 3" screws. Repeat to install the seven remaining legs, creating two trestle assemblies.
6. Lay one trestle on the ground. Begin building up the tabletop by applying an even coat of glue to a strip of wood and fasten it onto the trestle with 2 ½" screws so the top of the strip is flush with the top of the trestle. Continue in this fashion, building up strips of wood with glue and screws. As you build up the strips, use a straightedge to check that the top surface is remaining flush, flat, and square to the broad face of the trestles. The intent of this design is to make a large table out of otherwise wasted small scraps, so feel free to piece together tiny bits; just make sure that each layer is made of a consistent thickness of wood, and that the seams are well-glued and lapped from layer to layer. Around the legs, miter the ends of the strips to match the angle of the 2x6s, locking the legs into the tabletop. Stop when you have built up about 3" of strips on one side of each trestle.
7. Lay out five lines: one in the center, end-to-end; two each centered on the legs; and at about 64" from each side of the centerline (this will be about 8" in from the ends of a 12-foot table; adjust according to your planned length). Drill holes at these lines with a ⅝" spade bit, taking care to drill perfectly vertically. As you add layers to the tabletop, you will continue to drill these holes, eventually creating lines of holes for the threaded rods that penetrate through the whole tabletop, as shown at left.
8. Continue building up one side of each trestle until you have 10" to 12" of strips, then flip the assembly and build up the other side about 5", continuing to drill holes for the threaded rods. Aim for a total tabletop width of 30" to 34" (15" to 17" for each trestle assembly). Be sure to keep the total width under 36" so the threaded rods will reach all the way through.
9. Gather a group of friends to assemble the table. Push the five ½" threaded rods through the five holes in one half of the top so the rods stick out of the middle an inch or two. Coat the middle seam of both halves of the tabletop with a mixture of standard wood glue and polyurethane glue, making sure not to leave any dry spots.
Excerpted from Guerilla Furniture Design (c) Will Holman. Photography by (c) Ryan LeCluyse. Illustrations by (c) Koren Shadmi. Used with permission of Storey Publishing
Guerilla Furniture Design: How to Build Lean, Modern Furniture with Salvaged Materials [Will Holman/Storey]
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