For this assignment, we were instructed to create an invention that could be used at Thanksgiving dinner. This invention was to be made out of wood and hand crafted at the wood shop in Rapson Hall.
The first step that I took in this process was to "research" Thanksgiving. Because I've experienced Thanksgiving dinner countless times, I took my observations from the past into mind.
I took into account the different vessels that are used, the food being served, the drinks being poured, the volume of people sitting at the table, and the quantity of dishes that are placed on the table.
The next step was to brainstorm a bunch of ideas. Some of these ideas were clearly unfeasible, but I wanted to get as many ideas as I could down on paper.
After looking at my brainstorms and processing my research, I thought about the issue that was at hand. I concluded that the main problem at the Thanksgiving dinner table was that there were too many plates on the table, and that the surface was too crowded. Taking this problem into account, I transformed some of my brainstorms to make a solution and sketched some prototypes.
I liked the idea of a riser that could be placed over or above a glass that would be able to hold a small bread or dessert plate. This would help solve the problem of limited table space, as the plate would be tiered over the glass space. I sketched out some more possible prototypes with a circle top, but ultimately thought that a rounded square top would give the plate more surface space to rest on. Aesthetically, I also liked the look of the rounded square better.
The design would be a 5" by 5" rounded square with 3 support legs that were 7" tall. I didn't want the legs to be too tall, so that guests could see each other from across the table. I wanted 3 support legs instead of 4 so that a water or cocktail glass could easily be placed underneath the riser. I would also attach two 2.5" support pieces to the underside of the top piece, between the 3 legs.
After I settled on a design, I went to Rockler to buy some wood. I knew that I needed a hardwood, and looked around the shop for a good piece of lumber. I found some cherry, which I have always loved the color of, and bought some mineral oil for the finish of my invention.
I used a band saw to cut out my initial pieces, including the 5"x5" top and the 3 support legs. I then used a belt sander to round the edges of the square out, as well as the edges of the legs.
I realized that I sanded a little too much off of the edge of one of the legs, and cut out a new one. Not wanting the defective rounded leg to go to waste, I cut the 2.5" support pieces out of this piece. I did my final edge and touch up sanding, and then used the chop saw on the bottom of the 3 legs to make sure that they were flat.
After I had cut and thoroughly sanded all of the pieces, I measured a 1/2" border on the underside of the top piece, and drew squares where I wanted the legs to be placed. I scored those measured squares, as well as the tops of the legs, with a file to make sure that the wood glue would adhere the pieces properly.
After attaching the pieces with glue, I let my riser set for a while and then rubbed mineral oil all over the wood. I was happy when the pale cherry wood turned into a beautiful warm color.
After the oil had absorbed, I tested my invention at home. I placed a small plate on the top piece with a bagel on it, and the water glass fit perfectly underneath it. The piece only tipped over when the plate was placed close to the edge of the top, but it was overall very sturdy. I thought that a candle or other decorative item could be placed on the top as another idea. I am extremely happy with how my riser tuned out, and I will be sure to introduce it to the Thanksgiving dinner table this year.