Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dovetails, Fishtails, and a new Sled

Progress is going along nicely on the traditional table, I've decided to really make this a traditional construction even though it's small, over-all size makes it a challenge.  As an example, the dovetail for the front table stretcher:

The over-all size of the leg is 1 1/4" square so after cutting the female dovetail into the top, there isn't much material left.  To reinforce the grain and avoid a split in the leg I supported it with a clamp -- seemed to work, phew!
You can see the male portion of the stretcher.  Once again I'm glad I bought the fishtail chisel from Lie-Nielsen to cut and pare the dovetail.  That little chisel does the work of a pair of skewed chisels and, in my opinion, much better.  I knew that cutting these could have been a problem so the legs were left longer than needed until this step was complete.  Figured that if the leg split I could trim it and try again.

     The next step was to cut the mortises in each leg to accept the apron.  Again, due to the small over-all size of the parts it was somewhat touch and go.  Once they're complete I'll share a picture of them, really like a jig saw puzzle.  The apron is 5" wide and, unfortunately, presented me with another problem!
     It's a pretty common thing for furniture/cabinet makers to make what's called a sled to add accuracy to the miter gauge that's standard with a tablesaw.  I've had one for many years and I knew it was "slightly" off but since most of the pieces I've used weren't as wide as the apron for this project I accepted it and was able to pare the joints easily enough.  With an apron this wide it was just too inaccurate so -------- off to Fine Woodworking website to find some plans.  I came across some by Gary Rogowski and made the sled pictured here:

It's smaller than the one I had before but the big plus is how the rear fence is attached.  Using 5/16" bolts in 3/8" diameter holes gives a certain amount of play so the alignment of the fence to the blade is easy to adjust. In doing my research I discovered a different way to check it for squareness that is super accurate.  Never to old to learn something new!  In the picture, the clamp is holding what he called a "stupid block" which reminds your fingers where the blade comes out of the back of the sled.
I got so engrossed in what I was doing that I broke my go in the house when it hits 100 degrees in the shop.  It's hot out there, so hot that you have to make sure you don't sweat on the machine tops and cause rust!

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