Weekend Projects – Display Stand

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Mark and I felt this bowl would sit almost anywhere such as a dining table or sideboard but it deserved something special, which is where I took over. So this month I show how to make a simple but distinctive stand especially to put the bowl on. We are getting into aesthetics here, but the appearance of the stand is really quite important if the rustic bowl is to be shown off properly.

The bowl I made looks quite dark without any hint of a stain applied, so to my mind a dark stand underneath won't help it at all.

Instead I opted for pure white as a finish; this would look even better against a white wall so the bowl might look as if it is hovering in space, one can hope anyway. The shape needed to be a tapering square section cone for ease of construction and the taper emphasising the object on top. Lastly, I'm a minimalist with decoration so the most I wanted to see was two corebox mouldings running continuously around the stand, or being pretentious, dais? For inspiration I looked to the workshop stool Matt Long had made back in WPP issue 64, which the bowl was currently sitting on. It was about the right height and the base about the right width for the base of the stand.



A part of a board of 15mm MDF is marked out for the sides of the stand. Mark the base width and its centre point and use a large try square to mark the centreline. My board was already cut to the correct height so the width of the top could be marked along the top edge. The other facing side is marked the other way up for economy of cutting. The two intermediate sides are narrower by two board thicknesses so subtract that when marking these last two out.


Cut out all the sides with a sharp hard point saw. Do this with care and keep the cuts perpendicular so the edges are easy to glue together in a while.


A jack plane is needed to flatten the edges of the two intermediate sides as the edges on these need to be a good fit between the other two side pieces of the stand.


Use a tough aliphatic type resin glue, not plain PVA, as we need a good bond between the butt jointed MDF surfaces. I'm using Elmer's which a newcomer to the UK and it works really well.


Assemble the base on its side on the workbench carefully and then raise it upright to prevent it from collapsing unexpectedly. This will allow clamps to be fitted all round.


Plenty of clamps are needed and careful adjustment of the components with the occasional hammer tap so everything lines up properly. Don't worry about surplus glue, it can be removed later.


Once the assembly is dry the clamps can be removed and any lumps of glue chiselled off carefully. The Pocket Workshop needs a belt sander so I opted for this Skil model which makes fairly short work of levelling the butt joints. Wearing good levels of PPE are essential when sanding and routing MDF.


Now a router fitted with a large diameter corebox cutter is used to create the minimal decoration. A wooden through fence keeps the router on track without any tendency to wobble. Any burn marks will not show after painting of course. The positions of the flutes matter visually so they have been added to the project drawing.


The completed stand is ready for final sanding and any slight gaps in the glue line can now be filled.

The top may need a little shaping down either side with a chisel or the nose of the belt sander so the bowl will sit in properly.


The whole stand is sanded with an orbital sander until smooth, the flutes sanded by hand and the arrises – corners – just 'broken' slightly with abrasive.


Several coats of a water-based white satin paint are needed, with de-nibbing in between to flatten the MDF 'end grain'. Careful paintwork will pay dividends with a smooth result. Placed in the right setting with the bowl atop the stand, it will look like an expensive art work, just don't tell your friends!