Monday, November 14, 2016

Pivoting Joint for Folding Furniture: A Quick Prototype

After work today I tested a concept I thought of recently. It possibly solves a problem posed by Sally Schneider on her website, The Improvised Life.* Sally wrote a post about the folding mechanism of chairs and tables by Roger Tallon.

She went looking for the hardware and couldn't find it, so has been seeking a viable substitute. 

It might be possible to do the job with a plain old butt hinge, but doing that gracefully and attractively is fairly difficult. So I mulled it over in my daydreaming time, and came up with

As you will see, this can be done with basic woodworking tools. In actual use I would expect to use slightly heavier eye screws (possibly eye bolts so I could drill and tap the top of the table or seat), and I'm not sure whether I'd use a bolt, a length of threaded rod, or plain smooth rod for the cross dowel. I would probably use either brass or stainless for their nicer appearance. Anyway, the following photos show what I did to figure out if this approach is even worth trying. I think it is. For the most part I hope the pictures speak for themselves. If I don't think they do, I'll add a caption.

 I rummaged through my junk jar for a bolt that was a snug fit in the eye of the eye screw. Made me think of a poem that begins "You fit into me like a hook into an eye." Good poem.

 Arbitrarily, half an inch in from the edge. Got a problem with that?

 A second pencil mark the thickness of the eye screw away from the first mark.

 Coping saw removes the wood between the saw kerfs.

 Drilled from both edges, holes meet in the middle. Yes, I have a drill press, and yes, if I were doing this for real I would use it. But part of what I'm testing here is what is the MINIMAL toolkit you need to make this joint.

 Some chamfers are for appearance or tactile appeal. These allow the leg to rotate.

Dang, that doesn't look half bad!

* By the way, Improvised Life is very much worth following for its recipes; decorating, furnishing, and space-enlivening ideas; and inspiring thoughts for living a creative life. Every Sally Schneider recipe we have tried has become a memorable hit, sometimes a staple, in our kitchen. Unlimited access to the whole website is a couple bucks a month, which I happily pay to support Sally's decision to keep pop-up windows and advertising COMPLETELY off her site. Let's just say I came for the miso/mirin-glazed salmon, but stayed for the meditations on things like fluorescent merkins and the attributes that make a mortar and pestle excellent or awful.

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