Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Petworth's demi-lune table

Yesterday's first photo showing the chandeliers also shows a pair of demi-lune tables from Petworth Miniatures.

Note to any newbie be very careful about the first one or two choices of things to make.  I wasn't and was very nearly put of quarter scale by choosing a couple of things I really liked.  Sadly things you 'really like' are often attractive because they are a complicated structure and hence they are not for the faint-hearted (or newbie's).  I would say this table is in that category.  No way is it difficult - just a bit over-fiddly for someone who hasn't yet found their feet.  Gayle's products are so close to their life model that these pretty pieces will always be intricate.

almost there

The first challenge is shaping the legs.  Luckily for me the tables will be viewed from the front (no side view) so I only needed to shape the two front legs of each table.  Indeed decorative tables like these often only had the front leg shaped.  This photo shows you the sanding in progress.  It needs a much slimmer ankle.

There is a plethera of difficulties sanding and shaping a piece this size starting with the tools. I used just about everything in my sanding drawer settling mostly on a $3 set of very small different shaped (metal tool) files.

It is hard to see what shape you have achieved because you end up removing colour from the wood and that distorts you view of the outline.

The pieces are so small there is a very real chance of snapping something (other than your patience).

Don't be put off by this step; if you don't want to do it, the tables will look very nice with their legs as they are.  Indeed Regency were very plain - leave out the stretcher and leave the legs plain and they will be spot on.

picky, picky
This is another step you don't need to do, but I always think I have the kit so I might as well use it.  I assembled the pieces this far and left them on my magnetic jig to dry while I had lunch.  It does help me see that I have got things at right angles and it does actually put pressure on the joints though I suspect, at this scale, it won't make a scrap of difference.

showing you the stretcher underneath the table

This is the finished construction before I stained the pieces.  Those front legs still look chunky I may give them another going over but I will see how they look when stained. I also need to do something more with the nibs which fastened them in their frame - I was sure I had that OK.  Cameras are great for pointing out your failings.  No, really, they are a useful tool.  

one wet one dry

Test your stain colours on the frame they came from to see how they interact with that particular wood.  I ended up choosing red mahogany (Min-wax).  This is my least favourite colour but it looks OK on this wood.

I use stain pens and always stain before I assemble - except this time - I won't do this again, staining when the piece is built is decidedly more difficult.  I did see a tip from someone who said she dunked the finished pieces in the stain and then fished them out.  Great idea if you have tins of stain but I can't imagine ever needing that amount.  

The left one is dry and a nice muted colour - the one on the right is still wet and the colour I dislike.  If I were to varnish the piece it would get near to the colour of the wet one - it is the shine on the piece which is giving the red hue.  Old tables would not be varnished to a high shine, they might be french polished but I suspect these pieces would just be waxed to a soft sheen over the years so I am happy to go back in and tidy them up and gently buff them with brown paper and see what result I can get.  Matt or satin varnish can give a nice finish as it 'fills' the 'holes' in the wood, giving a nice smooth surface.  We'll see.

Google - 'Regency demi-lune images' - if you want loads of inspiration for finishing them.


  1. Wow, looking fantastic! I imagine those legs are pretty tiny and applaud your patience in shaping them!

    1. Thanks Shannon, it was an interesting 'first'. I wouldn't like to do it too often. Marilyn