Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heirloom Table Progress

     The weather's gotten more humid, just when I'm in the process of fitting the drawer to table.  To replicate the time period that this table would have been built, I'm using hand cut dovetails for the drawer.  It's a fairly small drawer, about 4" deep, and any excuse or reason I can find to work dovetails into a project is usually taken.  Frustration, eh, I mean, practice makes perfect!  Another reason to cut them is that I may be teaching a class on them so it never hurts to do them when possible.
     There's always been a controversy among woodworkers on what to cut first -- the tails or the pins?  My preference is to do tails first.  I find it easier to scribe a tail onto the pin board then vice-versa.  Through the years I've read many articles about them and tried many different methods but here's what I'm comfortable with.

     Once I've laid out the tails I clamp the two drawer sides together and cut them at the same time.  When the waste between the tails is large, I'll use a coping saw to remove the bulk of it.  If it's small like on this drawer I'll stack them together, remove a couple of chips from one side and then turn them over to remove the remaining material.  Once the tails are done it's time to scribe the pin board.

This is accomplished by placing the drawer front in the vise, the distance it sits above the jaws is determined by whatever you set the board on for the layout.  In this case I used a block plane that you see at the left of the picture.  The combination square is used to make sure the pieces are in line, then the hold down is tightened and the tails scribed with a marking knife.  You can also use a pencil to do your layout but my preference is the knife.  Seems a bit easier to start the saw in the scribed line.

  After making the cuts with a dovetail saw the waste can be chopped out with chisel and mallet.  A technique I learned (Lie-Neilsen video I think) is to use a piece of material to rest the chisel on when you flatten the socket.  The board is 3/4" thick so I made the sockets 1/2" deep so a piece of 1/4" MDF can be used to pare the shoulder flat and square.  The little fishtail chisel is great for getting into the corners.

The drawer was just glued up today.  I've finished the table and the shelf with the Watco oil and worked the first top coat into them with 400 grit paper.  I need to get at least 3 topcoats on the shelf so I can cane it.  Last major step is to machine the material for the top, it'll be approximately 1 1/4" thick.

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