Heirloom Quilt Stand

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This article is from Issue 19 of Woodcraft Magazine.

This holiday season give that special someone this well-crafted token of your appreciation and sign it “with love.”

Just six different parts make up the design of this traditional red oak quilt stand. Patterns enlarged to full size make cutting out the top and base a no-brainer, and a pair of simple scrapwood jigs help you drill dowel holes precisely. Special design features include:

• Cascading top rails that let you store up to three quilts or blankets while providing a view of each.

• A bottom shelf with rails that offers the perfect place to store quillows (quilt pillows).

• A shortened base behind the rear legs makes it easy to position the stand against a wall or at the foot of a bed.

• The limited number of parts makes the quilt stand a great weekend project!

After spray-adhering or taping the pattern to thin material, such as the 3/8" plywood shown here, cut and sand the pattern template to the line. Drill 1/16" holes at dowel locations.

Machine the parts and assemble the sides

1. Gather the wood needed to make the quilt stand and plane it to the part thicknesses in the Cut List. (See also the Cutting Diagram on page 60.) Now cut the parts for A, B, C, and D to the dimensions in the list. 

2. Enlarge the pattern for top (D) to the percentage indicated in the Pattern Section (page 76), and tape or spray-adhere it to a thin piece of plywood or hardboard to create a pattern template. Next, cut out the pattern template as in Photo A. Drill 1/16" holes through the template at the dowel hole locations.

We used a spindle sander with an 80-grit sanding cylinder to sand to the line and remove saw marks. A disc sander is also a good choice for convex curves.

3. transfer all dimensions to the two base pieces (C) where shown in the base side view, Fig. 2. Mark one base left and the other right on the outside face of each piece. (The pieces are mirror images of each other.) Bandsaw and sand the parts to shape as in Photo B. 

4. Install a ¾" dado set in your table saw and raise the blade to ½".  Make test cuts in two pieces of 1" scrap and place them together to verify the depth setting and a flush lap joint. Then mark all of the dado and rabbet locations on parts A, B, and C where shown in Fig. 2 and 3. (You’ll mark top (D) later when you dry-assemble the sides.) Note that the rabbets on the top inside faces of legs A and B are angled at 30° (dado the top of part B first, dry-assemble, check for parallel between A and B and then mark the angled dado on A). Next, dado the parts as in Photo C, test-fitting the legs into the base dadoes for a snug fit. Sand or scrape the rabbet and dado bottoms to achieve flat mating surfaces as in Photo C Inset. 

Using a sharp dado set, cut the ½" dadoes and rabbets, sneaking up to the cut lines for a snug fit. Test-fit the pieces often, and clean up the cuts with a sanding block or block plane as shown in the inset photo.

5. Dry-fit parts A, B, and C, making sure the distance between legs A and B is consistent from bottom to top. Fit the pieces for top D in the angled leg rabbets, ensuring a snug fit where the D parts’ bottom edges mate with the rabbets’ shoulders. Now mark the rabbet locations on parts D and cut these rabbets as before. Trim these parts to length.

6. Before assembling the side parts, chuck a 3/8" roundover bit into a handheld router and rout the outside edges of the base where shown in Fig. 2 and as in Photo D. Rout the bottom opening as well. Also rout about 12" along the outside edges of the legs A and B, stopping ½" shy of the lower rabbets. Ease these edges into the base later after routing the side assemblies.  

Carefully glue and clamp the side assemblies together, tightening the pieces face to face and edge to edge, constantly inspecting every seam as you work.

7. Now apply glue and fit the lap joints together to create the side assembly as shown in Photo E. Apply even pressure all around and check the frame joints along their seams to ensure a good fit.

8. Remove the clamps after the glue dries and place the top pattern template on the inside face of a side assembly and position it so the template aligns with the legs and top edge of top D. Clamp the template in place. Now, trace around the inside and outside edges of the template to establish the cutline for the assembly’s curved top. Insert an awl in the holes drilled earlier through the template and punch the dowel hole center locations in the wood. Remove the template, and similarly mark the opposing side assembly on the inside face.

Clamp a side assembly to your workbench and cut out the patterned top with a jigsaw and fine-tooth blade; then sand the edges to the line using a spindle sander. Hand-sanding may be needed. Repeat for the remaining side assembly.

9. Next, jigsaw and sand the curved assembly top as shown in Photos F and G.

10. Now continue routing the side assemblies, picking up where you left off. Rout each face of each assembly where shown in Fig. 1, first along the inside edges in a counter-clockwise direction, and then along the outside edges as in Photo H, moving clockwise.

With a side assembly on your workbench and the router resting on the assembly’s face, rout 3/8" roundovers along all accessible edges with the exception of the bottom edge of the base.

Make the rails and shelf, drill the holes, and assemble the stand

1. Cut out quilt rails (E) and shelf (F) to the dimensions in the Cut List. (All share the same length.) Now, using the same 3/8" bit, round over the top edges of the five quilt rails and the top face edges of the shelf where shown in Fig. 1.

2. Next, make the scrapwood drilling jigs shown in Fig. 4. Place the Base Hole Jig against the inside face of each side assembly and against the base as shown in Photo I. Using a 3/8" brad-point bit, tap the dowel-hole centerpoints. Use Fig. 1 to locate and mark the centered dowel locations on the lower legs. Now, using your drill press and a support system, drill 3/8" holes ¾" deep in the side assemblies as in Photo J.

This reversible jig (Photo I) lets you mark the holes in the bases and drill matching holes in the ends of the shelf. With the hole locations in the side assemblies marked, bore the dowel holes using your drill press, providing support so the holes are all 90° to the assemblies’ inside faces.

Using the Rail Hole Jig as shown guides the drill bit straight into the ends of the rails while creating consistent dowel-hole spacing.

3. Flipping the Shelf Drilling Jig around, clamp it to one end of the shelf. Secure the shelf in a bench vise and drill the matching dowel holes, this time going just over 1¼" deep with a handheld drill. Clamp the Rail Hole Jig to the rails' ends to drill 1¼" plus deep holes as in shown in Photo K. 

As designer and builder Gary Carter shows here, bar clamps should be distributed evenly around the assembly to better draw the pieces together. Check that the rails and shelf are square to the base.

4. Dab glue around the walls of the 1¼" holes and drive in the 2" dowels. Wipe up any squeeze-out. Next, apply glue in the ¾" holes in the side assemblies. Tap the rail and shelf dowels in one side assembly with a rubber mallet, and then fit the dowels in the opposing side assembly. Use bar clamps as in Photo L to draw the parts together. 

5. Finish-sand the quilt stand through 220 grit, then apply your choice of stain and finish. Gary used TransTint’s Golden Brown, covered it with three coats of Deft Satin Spray Lacquer, sanded, restained, and applied another coat of lacquer. He then buffed it out and finished with two wipe-on coats of General Finishes Gel Topcoat Satin Urethane. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but the resulting deep glowing finish is worth the effiort.

About Our Builder/Designer

Gary Carter is a long-established and recognized maker of traditional and country furniture whose work is on sale at his Colonial Retrospectives Gallery in Harrisville, W.Va. Samples of his work can be seen on the Web at country-cabinetmaker.com.

Special thanks to Kathy Lanham, Pieces Of The Past Quilt Shop, Harrisville, W.Va., who supplied the quilts and assisted with the stand design.


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