Prepare the wood stock to make the top. In most cases that means edge-gluing two pieces of wood together to create a top that is wide enough. I used two pieces of walnut. Cut the pieces for the top slightly overlong in length, and then use a jointer or a jointing plane to prepare the mating edges for edge-gluing (see page 140). If the top ends up slightly under or over the listed dimensions, that is fine, since the top overhangs the table base on all sides. Edge-glue the mating parts together using biscuits or dowels to align the parts and reinforce the joint. When the glue is dry, trim the top to the finished length.
I cut chamfers into the bottom edges of the tabletop, mostly for visual reasons but also to minimize the head-banging hazard posed by corners. I used a table saw with the blade set to 30° to trim off the bottom ¼” of the top, all the way around. If you don’t have a table saw you can use a router or (even more fun) build your hand tools skills by cutting the chamfers with a hand plane.
A sturdy, buildable reproduction of a furniture-design icon.
This iconic chair was originally designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1917. It’s appealing to me because it’s boiled down to the bare essentials, making it super easy to build. Designed with the idea of mass production, Rietveld used common dimension lumber for the framework.
At the time, that dimension was 1 1/8″, so everything but the seat and back are 1 1/8″ thick. In the spirit of common dimension lumber, you could alter this to 11/2″ the standard thickness of 2× lumber. I kept the original dimensions, as I felt it looked a little heavy at 11/2″.
How to Build a Rietveld Chair
The part preparation for this chair is greatly simplified by the fact that most of the parts are the same width and thickness (11/8 × 11/8″). You’ll need to cut roughly 24 lineal feet of stock to this dimension (it’s a good idea to cut some extra while you are set up, though). A table saw is perfect for this of course. You can also use a circular saw and straightedge guide, although the relatively small dimensions can get tricky to cut this way, so use extra caution. After cutting your stock to width and thickness, cut all the parts A through F to the listed length.
Despite its gravity-defying appearance, this shelf is plenty sturdy.
While this shelf appears to be floating on the wall, it’s strong enough to support a serious collection of books or other weighty curiosities. The shelf gets its strength from two things. First, all of the sections are “torsion boxes,” meaning they are constructed with an inner web frame that’s covered by a thin skin of 1/4″-thick plywood, in much the same way that hollow-core partition doors are manufactured.
This not only makes for a rigid shelf, but it also results in parts that are much lighter than if they were cut from solid wood. Second, the shelves are attached to wall cleats, which are firmly secured to wall studs. Cover the boxes with an adhesive-backed veneer of your favorite wood species they will look like solid slabs of wood, but without all the weight.