Lill's Quilt Rack: Part II, The Design & Templates

With the inspiration worked out and a concept of the design in my head, I set to work creating the actual design for Lill’s Quilt Rack.

I did this by sketching a full size profile of the side on a piece of MDF. This is the same method I’ve used on earlier quilt racks. I find the full size sketch the best way to work out the curves and how they work in relation to each other. My sketches don’t get as formal as George Walker's ratios. I just keep sketching, erasing and re-sketching until it looks right.

The completed full sized sketch.

I use my Lee Valley Asymmetric Drawing Bow to lay out the basic curves, opening and closing the curve slightly between each leg. This part of the process is very subjective. It’s basically just draw until you’re happy.

Typically the full size sketch becomes the template for routing the legs. This is how Cathy’s and Katie’s quilt racks were made. With Cathy’s I used ¼” hardboard for the template. I found that the ¼” board wasn’t quite thick enough to run a guide bushing along comfortably, so for Katie’s I used ¾” MDF. Out of habit, I used ¾” MDF for Lill’s quilt rack too.

It wasn’t until I was done with the sketch that I realized the intercrossing legs would prevent me from cutting up the template and using it as a guide. I had to use a roll of tracing paper to trace each leg individually. Then I attached the traced legs to individual pieces of ¾” MDF with spray adhesive. About this time I realized that the original full size drawing could have been on ¼” hardboard. The ¾” MDF works. It’s just a wee bit heavy.

Tracing each leg by itself.

With the traced legs on the template stock I cut them out on the bandsaw. I cut near the line by eye. I know you should aim to be as close as possible when cutting the templates. As I was paranoid about cutting into the shape of the legs my cuts ranged from right on to about ¼”+ away from the line.

The tracings, glued to the template stock.

For the final shaping of the leg templates I began with my oscillating spindle sander on the concave face. This did not work. Even with my largest diameter spindle (about 1½” or 2”) I wasn’t able to achieve a flowing curve. The spindle would dig in, leaving a surface with lots of small indents.

After fighting with this for a few minutes I resorted to hand sanding. I used 80 grit paper and two (2) composite shims as a flexible backer. This was a slow process and it did round over the edges a bit. I’ll use it again though, as it resulted in a very smooth and flowing curve along the concave face of all three (3) leg templates.

For the convex face, I swapped out the spindle for the belt in my oscillating sander and used flowing sweeps of the templates over the belt to achieve a flowing convex curve.

For both the concave and convex curves, I let my hands tell me just as much as my eyes. I wanted curves that felt smooth. It was more important it felt and looked good than that it followed the line perfectly.

The templates, laid out on the full sized sketch.

Once the templates were complete it was time to move on to the actual legs.

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