Thursday, October 27, 2011

Table Progress

     Techniques used to build furniture can vary depending on the shop that's making it.  I used to tell my students that "there's more than one way to skin a cat", an expression that needed explanation to the younger set!  For this table, there will be a shallow drawer on either side for sewing supplies.  The design calls for space on both sides of the table, one side is for the sewing machine and the other side is for the serger.  Since the table will be against the wall the drawers will need to be in line with one and other.
     The customary way to do this is to take your apron piece, rip off the top and bottom pieces, then glue them back together after cutting out the drawer area.  This picture will help illustrate that:
Drawer Apron
     I mentioned that the 6/4 Poplar was pretty picked over and one of these pieces has quite a wind in it which I'll need to plane out before surfacing the entire assembly to 7/8".  Even though this table will be painted, when you construct a drawer apron this way you are able to keep the wood grain continuous, even the grain on the drawer front will match, giving the appearance of one solid piece of wood.  Once these are surfaced they will be cut to the required size and tenons will be cut on the ends.
Taper Jig

 While this was drying work started on the legs.  The plans Diane gave show a short taper on one side to lighten the over-all appearance of them.  Using my shop made taper jig simplifies this process, all that's needed now is a bit of hand planing to make them all uniform.


      I prefer to use a good, solid, mortise and tenon joint to build table aprons.  This is a time proven joint and although dowels, biscuits, pocket screws, and other methods are quicker they won't compare to the strength of the mortise and tenon.  If you've ever seen a serger in action, strength and stability are a must!

Cutting Mortises, note depth block

I use a hollow chisel mortiser to cut my mortises.  I started out years ago doing them all by hand the same way my junior high school students were taught.  Then I graduated to getting a drill press, then a bench top mortiser, and now finally a dedicated hollow chisel mortiser.  It's nice to know I have the ability to cut them by hand but this sure makes it easier.  They still require some clean up work with chisels but all in all, this is the best method for me.
     The apron will be 4 1/4" wide.  For maximum strength I chose to stagger a 1 1/2" wide tenon in a full haunch that will be 1/2" deep.  Lots of technical stuff here but the purpose of the full haunch is to prevent the aprons from twisting.  I decided to stagger the tenons rather than having them meet inside the leg to increase the strength.  The technique I use is illustrated by this picture; at the rear of the mortiser there is a black rod which is the depth stop.  See the little block of reddish colored wood? It's 3/4" thick so when you cut the haunch, that is put onto the stop which limits the depth to 1/2".  For cutting the full depth mortise, you remove the block and cut the full 1 1/4".  Simple little trick but works quite well.
     Well, the sun's coming up so that means I can make noise out in the shop.  Glad to say our weather has cooled down considerably so working conditions are much improved!

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