Wedge-Style Construction

In 2004, my work with wood evolved to a new design concept.  These wooden bowls and containers are made of different woods and angles.  I began thinking of a barrel with stave construction, and wanted to incorporate that type of design into more creative, complex items. In October of 2004, I made a full size drawing of a wedge style cabinet 6′ tall, 12” in diameter supported by 3 bent laminated legs, with a single door fitted into the oval body. The question was how to accurately cut the cabinet staves, or wedges, to the angles needed.

I started experimenting with an idea which involved clamps that could adjust the wedge angles from 0 to 45 degrees, depending on the total number of segments desired.

In six years I’ve refined and expanded the wedge technique, resulting in over 15 bowls and containers.  I make a full scale drawing of a bowl, then make a pattern of one bowl wedge and another pattern of a bowl wedge with an extending leg. I trace around the patterns on a board, and cut out the pieces to the particular thickness necessary. For example, when making a bowl with 24 similar parts I will cut each piece to 1.5 inches thick. The next step is cutting the pieces each at a 15 degree angle, creating the wedges that will be pieced together. I use a vacuum pump to hold each part on a vertical board that’s been adjusted to 15 degrees from the bandsaw blade.  Using guides to make a straight cut, I push an ‘L’ shaped holder past the blade and cut the pieces one at a time. Any variation from 15 degrees can create a problem. Some of the bowls go together fine, some can be adjusted during construction, a few cannot. Experience has taught me what to watch for.

Many of these bowls and containers have been displayed at the Sonoma County Woodworkers Association (SCWA) annual shows, and several have won awards. The original cabinet was finally complete in July of 2009, a labor of over 200 hours.