Incidental Fermat Projects #3: Old and Weird

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Blog entry by vipond33 posted 11-30-2012 12:16 PM 2992 reads 1 time favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: New and plain Part 3 of Incidental Fermat Projects series Part 4: New and Festive »

Two summers ago, our shop was contracted to make all of the built in cabinets for a very large, very modern house.

It was a huge project, keeping four of us busy for months working primarily with teak veneer and solid. The general contractor and client were extremely fussy, so much so that our boss vowed to never work for them again. Their work was immaculate – over the top – and we had to match it. For those of you with some experience in site work it was amazing. All walls were dead flat and perfectly vertical, well within a sixteenth. All inside and outside corners were exactly square, so much so that our fillers needed no trimming. You could play billiards on the floors and the balls would never veer.

For my part I made a very elegant wall hung vanity, an interesting wall unit in the master bedroom and for the purposes of this post, and for your vicarious enjoyment, a strange item in the kitchen.

The idea, believe it or not, was to have the living room floor sweep down into the kitchen and turn into a counter top without a break.




The material I had to work with was a very pricey Italian made engineered flooring with a diamond hard surface coat and laser straight edges. No matter how hard I looked at it I could not see how they machined it so flawlessly. That helped for sure but I still had to edge and end glue it into a compound curve over 14 ft long, some 3 ft wide and then join it to the living room floor. No breaks or gaps allowed, no sanding possible and with no flex ridges showing on the surface. Smooth as a baby’s bum or else.

Since it was impossible to layup in one piece (too unwieldy & our press is only 10ft) it was done in three sections and then glued together in a final shop assembly.

To begin with, all strips were multiple grooved with a very thin saw blade and a power feeder. Hours of cutting even at that.

Two curved forms were made to go in the vacuum bag and then the parts were flat glued in three sections after matched fitting with interlocking random finger joints.

Then it was into the bag over a double layer flex-ply substrate followed by an assembly of those sections.

It took an entire day to set up and do this last operation. Getting the long finger joints together was the trickiest part. To finish, a heavy solid front edge was added.

On to site and fit up. There was a temporary wall made and double faced taped to the living room floor to put the building inspector off the scent and then I was done. Baked.

Such is the occasional insanity of custom cabinetry. I burned through about 125 hrs making this and the underlying cabinets and with no real compliment from the client or builder, though my boss said he owed me a stiff drink for pulling it off – which to date has not been forthcoming. The great proof here is that sometimes you need to get by with your own satisfaction I suppose.

That and maybe with someone saying “Nice work dad”.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

22 comments so far

View PASs's profile


605 posts in 4595 days

#1 posted 11-30-2012 12:58 PM

Vipon….the video says it’s private….might check your settings for it.

As always….beautiful work….and you have my appreciation for a job done well.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 3550 days

#2 posted 11-30-2012 01:12 PM

Awesome work

-- Joel

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5378 days

#3 posted 11-30-2012 01:18 PM

If I had the money, I would hire you, and thank you profusely. But I don’t.
That is just amazing work. I can not imagine pulling that off.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 3857 days

#4 posted 11-30-2012 01:41 PM

Masterful work as usual, Gene, but it must be somewhat disheartening to have to take satisfaction in just the construction rather than in the beauty resulting from so much effort, only to flatter the vanity of others.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 3904 days

#5 posted 11-30-2012 02:04 PM

I always enjoy your work with my favorite being your Celadon project!

This is unbelievably well done and to design, make, and fit it “seamlessly” into the floor of the house is just genius. You can take comfort in knowing that your “brethren” here on L.J.’s will oohhh and ahhhh by the 1000’s because your own kind are really the only ones who know what it took to pull this off.

A fine fine job sir!

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Doe's profile


1440 posts in 4326 days

#6 posted 11-30-2012 02:38 PM

A stiff drink? You deserve an entire distillery! Your work never ceases to amaze.

best regards, Doe

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4114 posts in 3748 days

#7 posted 11-30-2012 03:10 PM

Nice work, Dad. Ingenious technique and awesome result!

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View rdlaurance's profile


381 posts in 4843 days

#8 posted 11-30-2012 03:16 PM

Fabulous job, Gene! You ever make it to Sweden and I’ll hand you that stiff drink, you deserve it. Your craftsmanship looks superb, as always… your forte.

Interesting design… floor arching down into kitchen counter top… don’t think I could ever live with something like that. My personal opinion, coming from my professional art and critic arena…. seems to be $$$$$ spent just to be unique and different.

To renew the old debate between Ingres and Delacroix on the ‘purity of the line’.... in this context being form over function…. I would tend to side with function. Though I do see the beauty and elegance in the ‘sweeping’ line of this floor, possibly with a nod of the head to Dali.

-- Rick, south Sweden

View gbear's profile


545 posts in 5595 days

#9 posted 11-30-2012 03:44 PM

WOW…you always amaze me. I wish I had just 10% of your talent.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3981 days

#10 posted 11-30-2012 03:55 PM

If I ever develop the ability to fart money, I too, will hire you to make my floors and counter tops. Holy moly.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Karson's profile


35301 posts in 5897 days

#11 posted 11-30-2012 03:55 PM

I hope your daughter was not ”keying” your counter-top.

Beautiful job and you know that you could have bought a 16’ vacuum bag. But then you would have had to build a table to support it.

We are proud of your accomplishments.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View shipwright's profile


8821 posts in 4294 days

#12 posted 11-30-2012 04:34 PM

Nice one Gene.
You’ve just got to love the “impossible challenge”. That’s what makes life worth living, right.
Your execution was , as it had to be, perfect.
You get my highest compliment “You do nice work”
(That may require some explanation. I once got it from someone I hugely respected and it made my year.
Now I save it for special occasions… this is one.)

On another topic, may the ungrateful recipient will pay for both his vanity and his lack of respect with a lifetime of kitty toys in his salad.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4339 days

#13 posted 11-30-2012 05:59 PM

Paul! LOL!

Gene, you are inspiring and intimidating!

You are also apparently a patient and precise guy?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4186 days

#14 posted 12-01-2012 01:48 AM

Gene, You pulled another rabbit from the hat! That is absolutely astounding. (even though the recipient didn’t seem to appreciate it). Only REAL craftsmen know what it takes to create that work of art!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View chopnhack's profile


375 posts in 3890 days

#15 posted 12-01-2012 03:06 AM

Nice work Gene! I will say this much for the client… more cents than sense. Do you really want a floor that sweeps into you kitchen countertop? Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should…. None the less, fantastic execution to get the job done.

-- Sneaking up on the line....

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