I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about the work that I do for Sebastian Cox Furniture which takes up most of my time these days. One of the more popular pieces from the new Underwood range is the Crown candelabra and here I will run through how I go about making them.
The Underwood range relies on the combination of ash and hazel, and in the case of the candelabras, the base is made in ash and the stems are mode in hazel. I will usually begin by machining the ash first, so a suitable board of timber must be selected from the stock we keep in the workshop. We will not usually let minor defects or imperfections deter us in our choice of stock. Discolouration or the odd knot wont be a concern as long as the structural integrity of the wood is not compromised.
Once the ash is planed and thicknessed to the correct dimensions, the positions of the circular bases are marked out by drawing around the template that will be used to rout them later on. This lets you know how many you will get from the piece of wood and where to cut with the bandsaw. When I’m doing this, I like to try and place the base in an interesting area of grain; perhaps including an appealing swirl or some nice figuring.
When cutting out things like this, it’s helpful to cut as close to the line as possible so that you have the least amount of wood to take off with the router. This will save time and effort (and potential breakage!)
With the bases roughly cut, the template is screwed on (the screw holes will be routed out later) and they are trimmed to their final diameter.
Next it is on to the cutting of the dish shapes. These not only catch the wax that runs off the stem, but they also form the point where the stem attaches to the base.
Like the bases were before them, the rough positions of the dishes are marked out to give an idea of where to cut.
A simple jig is used for this operation in conjunction with two routers, each having a different cutter.
The first cutter to be used is a standard 22mm straight cutter. This removes the bulk of the waste wood and leaves the next cutter with a much easier cut. With both the jig and the base securely anchored to a backing piece of MDF, the router is run around the inside edge of the jig to create the circular cut as can be seen.
The final cut is done with a fluted cutter that creates the curved internal profile of the dish. This cut must be done as quickly as is safe to reduce the risk of burning which would need extra time to clean out.
The process is then repeated until there are the desired number of dishes. On the largest model we do, nine dishes are cut, all of them in a random spacing which means that every one we make is unique!
Next it’s on to the stems. These are made in hazel and to produce them quickly and accurately, we use our improvised “copy lathe”. The copy lathe is essentially an adapted bench lathe with a guide running along the top that the router sits on and that the bearing on the cutter follows to give a uniform cutting profile. It may not be very clear how it works in the pictures, but it saves a lot of time!
Once the required number of stems has been cut, they are drilled in both ends. The hole in the top will receive a brass candle cap and the hole in the bottom will allow the stem to be attached to the base. The holes are cut on the pillar drill.
Once these are all cut and capped and final sanding and finishing has been done, the final assembly can take place.
There are three sizes of Crown candelabra in the range, all sharing the same basic construction methods.
These are all available on the Sebastian Cox Furniture website! (click the picture below!)