My wife, Judi, is part Cherokee, and enjoys native American drumming. This project is a floor stand that I designed and built for her large floor drum. The drum is made from a 2′ diameter section of cottonwood trunk.
My favored furniture styles are Arts and Crafts, and Art Nouveau. The Arts and Crafts movement started as a “rebellion” to Victorian mechanization and mass production. The style, typically, showcased the craftsman workmanship, such as exposed joints, and utilized elements that reflected the tools that they were typically produced with and, most often, local materials-an honesty and practicality that I resonate with.
I designed the piece, first and foremost, to fulfil it’s function-robust construction featuring exposed joinery that is both attractive and strong. Also, I styled the piece to be complimentary to the drum that it is intended to support, and scaled the stand to put the drum’s head at the optimal ergonomic height for Judi to play. As Judi had mentioned wanting to try angling the drum for playing, I designed a separate upper cross-brace that pivots near the “front” and utilizes a mechanism that tilts the drum and locks it solidly at any angle up to, around 30 degrees. As the arm is bubinga, a South American hardwood several times harder than maple, that is secured using a knob that tightens a 3/8″ steel bolt, I could stand on it and it wouldn’t budge. The woods used in the piece are bubinga, native oak, walnut, and wormy beech for the heads that support the front pivot rod.
I always start with a dimensioned design, at least the basic function and proportions. The place to work out the big picture is on the computer, not at the table saw. However, I will adjust, minimally,to accommodate a nice piece of wood that is short of what I need for an element-
The finished piece with the drum. I like to block the colors of the different woods together such that the piece is broken into interesting graphic sub-sections. This has the effect of breaking up the main mass, visually. This helps to give the piece an appearance that is more elegant and refined than would be possible using just one color of wood. This sort of “styling” is a fundamental concern of my profession-industrial design-
Details. This is the place where just a bit more thought here and there, a little experimentation, and changes that occure to me during construction, can make a good piece into an exceptional one. –
As is the case with many, my passion for woodworking evolved from, what was first, practical needs for simple home projects. I vividly remember, about 20 years ago, struggling with a hand saw to cut a shelf for Judi’s town home, and lamenting the difficulty that I was having. Now, I go out of my way to challenge myself technically with my projects, and enjoy the slow expansion of my skill set. Though I had some training in design school in basic shop technique, my understanding and current skill set is owed, far more, to my own study-particularly to the boundless material available in bookstores, libraries, TV, and, now, on the web. Rare is the time that I’m relaxing while watching my night-time tv shows that I don’t, also, have some book (or stack of books)next to me on the coffee table- one in hand for casual reading and study. One needn’t exercise super-human discipline to learn, even, complex skills- a few minutes a day, and desire to do it is all that it really takes.
If (even the finest) craftsmen from the Arts and Crafts era could flash forward to today and see the resources available at our whim, and for a pittance, they would surely think that the world had become a utopia.