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Bandings and strings are a dramatic and exciting way to dress vintage furniture. I see them as a way to highlight some aspects of a piece by directing the viewer’s eye to a certain area. Bandages emphasize one-piece lines, similar to chalk on a car.
The use of bandings also demonstrates an ability closely related to the successful design of a piece. In other words, a too thick, busy or colored band can ruin a piece. That’s why I never buy bandings; I’ll do it. In this way, I can decide the model, the colors, the types of wood and the dimensions. I never have to settle, compromise or modify my design to adapt it to what is commercially available.
Learn how to make your own and you will never have to compromise your design.
Here are some principles that I always adhere to:
■ Captivating patterns: design or copy a pattern that makes the viewer stop and perhaps meditates on how it was made. An attractive model will be partly puzzle and partly tantalizing, with a pinch of pizzazz.
■ Clarity and high contrast: the most successful bandages are built to amplify the contrast between different pieces and colors. Each piece is clearly distinguished from the surrounding pieces / segments. This means that the direction of the grain should be oriented to stand out in contrast to the surrounding wood.
For example, to keep the color sharper, truer and maximum contrast, I never show the fine grain. While cutting to display only long grain can present problems on how to produce components safely, uniformly and efficiently for an attractive end model, the result is always worth the extra effort.
■ High-quality material: I always put aside any scrap with an interesting or unusual pattern or color of the veins. And I always select the cleanest and straightest cardboard stock I can find. The clean, straight stock performs well and therefore presents fewer problems and produces the most strips for exertion. For example, knots, cracks or sharp changes in color could create a distraction that would compromise your design.
■ Materials of uniform thickness: stocks with the same thicknesses and dimensions will produce the most beautiful band. The carefully dimensioned material is easier to glue and block and will produce strips without voids and visible spaces. The use of a micrometer (calipers) is of great help in this task.
Basic equipment and tools
No matter how simple or complex your bandages are, there are some basic tools, equipment and masks needed to produce a great job. Nobody is expensive or difficult to obtain or achieve.
A high-quality thin-cut table saw blade is essential. In my school (Philadelphia Furniture Workshop) we use a 50 tooth Freud Industrial blade, 10th hook, 10 ″. Manages a range of cuts easily and smoothly with excellent results. The narrow stem also reduces waste.
A solid and precise guide for circular saw, equipped with a replaceable wooden fence, will guarantee precision and safety. You will also need a zero-play table saw insert to avoid spaces between the blade and the work surface; an empty space can trap the material, jam the blade and interrupt the work.
Tearing thin and thin pieces requires careful cutting technique, so keeping your fingers well away from the rotating blade is critical to safety. A lever designed for the activity (shown above) will safely handle even the thinnest pieces of material.
A stand-off block gives me the ability to produce precise and uniform pieces to glue the straps and prevents the pieces from getting trapped or flying back on me.
You will also need a digital micrometer or dial to accurately measure the thickness of the material.
In recent years, furniture from the federal period has become more popular than ever (outside the federal period itself, of course). Carpenters across the country are building sideboards, Pembroke tables and game tables featuring strings, inlays and beautiful bandages.
Of the many (furniture manufacturers) working in this period (around 1790-1830), John and Thomas Seymour stand out and their masterpieces get astronomical prices at auctions. In addition to the impeccable construction, Seymour’s pieces stand out for their surprising bandages, two of which are unique and almost exclusive for their work. The best known and most widely used of these is the lunar ribbon. The other is the distinctive and inspiring arrow.
On a mirror construction I designed (and what I teach at the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop), both the arrow and bezel clamps are main features, along with a simple vertically oriented band that separates the case from the base.
Banding in 3 pieces
This is the easiest to make of the three-band designs used in the dressing mirror. It is a three-part motif consisting of a central strip flanked by lighter contrasting stripes. In this case, I used 3/8“-Small mahogany for the central layer and inserted between 1/16“- Think layers of maple.
Note in the photo above that the grain of the core is oriented vertically and does not run along the length of the band. This means that there are no relievers to cut while turning the corners on a case.
The safest way to cut these cross-grain pieces is to use a separate block with a zero-play table saw insert. This simple device made in the shop (see the photo in the top center on the previous page) provides the essential space for small chips that separate from the larger piece; otherwise they could get trapped between the blade and the fence, creating a hazard.
After cutting all the pieces you deem necessary, cut 20 percent more. Discard chips with defects, tears or abrupt color changes. Apply glue to the surface of a maple strip and place the mahogany end to end on top of the maple strip, keeping the shavings united and square to the maple below.
Then apply the glue on the second strip of maple and place it over the mahogany flakes. Carefully align the layers and secure the lamination with tape to prevent it from slipping. Then block the brick and let it dry overnight.
Usually I hang directly on the bench with a recess on the top of the glue, after covering both the cap and the bench with non-stick tape. The bench guarantees flatness (assuming that the bench is flat, of course) and the caul provides uniform pressure along the entire length of the fascia brick.
A strip of closely shaded half-circles is called the “bezel” band. Each semicircle shows shading on one side only. Inside the larger semicircle there is a smaller one, shaded on the opposite side. The trompe l’oeil effect creates the illusion of depth and relief.
I looked at many examples of this distinctive model and thought about how it could have been made in the 18th and 19th centuries. I guess the carpenters of the period cut a series of crescent shapes using curved gouges, then shaded the individual pieces before joining them. This has always seemed boring and disturbing to me, with a somewhat dubious result.
Freddy Roman, a Massachusetts-based furniture manufacturer, has come up with this elegant method for making lunar bands. His method involves incorporating shaded caps into a strip, then tearing the strip in two and corking each half with contrasting bands to form the brick. Here’s how to do it.
Using high quality 3/8” is 1/2“Nippers (I like the ones sold by Tools for Working Wood), I produce a quantity of each size cap, piercing about 25 percent more than I need so I can choose the best ones. I chose the maple for the caps here because the tight and narrow grain will show well and produce a uniform and gradual shading.
After cutting the spines, sand them in half. For best results, I recommend using a small hot plate, a cast iron skillet and a cup of fine-grained sand. Turn the thermostat up and let the sand warm up (it should be warm to your hand about 6 ″ above the surface), then select your best grips and place them in the heated sand. I prefer to shade them a little to ensure that, once inlaid and smoothed, the thorns still show well. It may take some trial and error to determine how long to leave the thorns in the sand.
After fading the sand the thorns, I arrange them in rows by size (1/2” is 3/8“), From darkness to light, from left to right. In this way, any differences in shading will be gradual along the length of the strip of bands and less noticeable.
Begin the next part of the process with a clean, straight grain maple block, which measures 1 ″ x 11/2“. On this “ground”, mark carefully 1/2“Grid.
Perforation and connection of the strip are carried out in two stages. In the first, drill 1/2“-Diameter holes at 1” intervals at a depth of 3/4“. Paste the 1/2“It fits into these holes, with the shaded sides facing the same direction, and let the glue dry completely before proceeding. This is critical. Any attempt to speed up the process will result in an error.
In the second phase, drill 1/2“-Holes diameter – again at 1” intervals – between the holes already plugged. Now fill the new holes with shaded caps (again making sure that the shaded halves are in the same orientation).
When all the 1/2“The caps are glued and completely dry, cut them flush with the maple soil to create a clean and flat surface. Mark the centers around the 1/2“It connects clearly. Now punch carefully 3/8“-Diameter holes on those marks.
In these holes, you can now safely glue everything 3/8“-Diameter plugs shaded (no need to do it in stages), with shaded edges facing in the opposite direction as on the 1/2“Thorns. When these are dry, cut the entire strip flush.
Now glue a two-part lamination of 1/32“-Fat walnut e 3/32“-Strike the maple strips and let them dry.
Tear off the half-capped strip in the band saw (due to the thin wooden blade, you will get two usable pieces, each about 7/16“wide). Plan or sand the flat surface, then glue the lamination of walnut and maple on the side just cut. Since this band will be inserted in a dark mahogany ground, I placed the maple side to get the best contrast with the mahogany Secure the lamination between a countertop and a stand, then lock it for installation.
After the glue is dry, tear off the corked strip at approx 3/8”Wide, then glue on the second lamination of walnut and maple.
Tits easy-to-build template (designed by Frank Vucolo) contains a finishing router to make perfect V-cuts for the arrow headband.
The exact dimensions are not critical: what makes it work is the micro-adjustable table that contains the piece so you can center the tip of the cutting router on the job.
This is done by 3/4“Often compensated with a 1/2“Plywood table; the overall dimensions are 9” x 16 “.
This is a nice striped motif that, although rare, was not exclusive to Seymour furniture. Similar to the bezel model, the band of the arrow requires a series of steps carefully performed to obtain the desired and elusive result. The completed model should be crisp and narrow.
Frank Vucolo (a student of my school and a skilled creator in his own right) and I have struggled with various methods to make this little joint. Frank beat me for a brilliant solution and came up with a simple router configuration that got the job done. Once brought to the school shop, we perfected the mask with a micro-regulator, which allows the fine adjustment of the shelf that contains the piece to ensure perfect centering of the cuts and provide impeccable results.
The mask is made in a plywood scrap shop, equipped with a standard shelf 1/4“-20 threaded screw. The tip is a 45 ° router tip signed by Infinity (# 15-127 1101). The mask supports a cutting router and has a table that is adjustable relative to the router bit. (It can also rotate slightly.) It is the adjusted position of the same bit that allows the creation of both pointed and recessed cuts (see “Router Jig” above).
The arrow design consists of five layers of veneer with three separate parts for the design: the arrowhead (or tail feather), the central shaft and two outer layers. The most difficult part is the milling of delicate cuts involving the central shaft and the sections of the arrowheads, which must have exactly the same thickness.
The first task is to laminate three layers of veneer to form the central shaft. The darker arrow tree should measure 1/16“Thickness, with the surrounding layers lighter 1/32“. Glue the three layers to form the central tree.
The material of the arrowhead should be measured at 1/8“Thick. Once adequately thick, each of the parts must be cut to the exact length: 7/8“For the central shaft e 7/16“For the arrowhead.
I make these cuts on the table saw using a thin cutting blade, a zero play insert, a cross guide with a plywood fence and a safety lock.
Fasten the router mask firmly on the bench. Place your table and extend the tip just enough to smooth half the thickness of a specimen. Then turn over and smooth the other side. This should create a perfectly centered point without reducing the size of the piece. Adjust the configuration until you are satisfied: it is important that the cut is perfectly centered so that the pieces nest properly.
Next, run one end of each arrowhead and sections of the center shaft.
To perform the mate cut, release the router mask table down until the tip makes a V cut centered on the other edge of each piece. The cuts should fit perfectly into each other.
To glue the arrow headband, mill two strips of 1/16“-Maple maple for the outer layer, place a piece face up on a mouth on top of your bench and cover it with yellow glue. So just simply alternate the positioning of the arrowhead and the sections of the central shaft on the wet glue. Push the sections together firmly, removing any gaps.
Now glue on the second strip of maple.
Check everything for alignment, then block lamination using your work surface and a sturdy body to provide even pressure.
Of course, all these bandages must be dressed on a sander or airplane before tearing them off for use in a project. For maximum performance, I recommend tearing the band saw and a thickness of 1/16“. It is thin enough so that the strips obediently follow a curve, but not so thin that it flakes off as you use them.
And you’re done: now you know how to make the bandage in three designs to be used on the dressing mirror or on any build you like. Now take the techniques you’ve learned here and try a couple of custom projects.
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