Keeping Track Of The Legs

is easier when they're numbered on top, clockwise from the front left. This system helps prevent layout errors.

MARKING OUT THE DOVETAIL SOCKET. Scribing the socket from the bottom of the slightly tapered dovetail ensures a good fit in the leg.

Connecting the Front and Rear Assemblies

To hold the legs in position while I measured for the drawer runners and kickers and, later, to get the spacing on shelf-support rails correct, I made a simple frame of hardboard and wooden corner blocks (see the top photo on p. 115). The frame ensures the assembly is square and the legs are properly spaced. After I marked the shoulder-to-shoulder lengths for the runners and kickers, I cut and fit the stub tenons that join these pieces to the front and rear assemblies. The back ends of the runners and kickers must be notched to fit around the inside corners of the legs.

Runners, kickers and dust panel T cut the M-in. grooves for the dust panel in the drawer runners next. 1 also cut grooves for the splmes with which I connected the drawer runners and kickers to the sides of the table. There are 10 grooves in all—one each on the inside and outside edges of the drawer runners, one on the outside edge of each of the kickers and two in each side for the splines.

Then I dry-clamped the table and made sure the tops of the kickers were flush with the top edges of the sides, the tops of the

CHECKING THE FIT OF THE TOP-RAIL DOVETAIL. A hand screw prevents a leg from splitting if the dovetail is too big. The fit should be snug but not tight.

Gluing up the table base is a two-step process. First I connected the front legs with the top and bottom drawer rails and the back legs with the back apron. To prevent the legs from toeing in or out because of clamping pressure, I inserted spacers between the legs at their feet and clamped both the top and bottom. Then I check for square, measuring diagonally from corner to corner (see the photo on p. 114). It ensures that the assembly is square and that the legs are properly spaced.

Carving a lamb s tongue runners flush with the top of die drawer rail and the bottoms of the runners flush with the bottom edges of the sides. Then I cut the dust panel to size, test-fit it and set it aside until glue-up.

Building the shetf frame and shelf The shelf on this table is a floating panel captured by a frame made of four rails. The two rails that run front to back are tenoned into the legs; the other two are joined to the first pair with dirougli-wedged tenons.

I put the dry-assembled table into the hardboard frame and clamped the legs to the blocks. Then I clamped the pair of rails that will be tenoned into the legs against the inside surfaces of the legs and marked the shoulder of each tenon (see the bottom photo on p. 115). I also marked die rails for orientation so that the shoulders can be mated correctly with the legs.

Tenons were cut and fit next. With the rails dry-clamped into the legs, I measured for the two remaining rails to be joined to the first pair. I laid out and cut the through-mortises in the first set of rails, chopping halfway m from each side to prevent tearout. I cut the tenons on the second set of rails, assembled the frame and marked the through-tenons with a pencil line for wedge orientation. So they don't split the rails, the wedges must be perpendicular to the grain of the mortised rail.

I flared the sides of the through-mortises (not the tops and bottoms) so the outside of the mortise is about Ms in. wider than the inside. This taper, which goes about three-quarters of the way into die mortise, lets the wedges splay the tenon, locking the rail into the mortise like a dovetail.

Next I marked the location of the wedge kerfs in each tenon, scribing a line from both sides of the tenon with a marking gauge for uniformity. 1 cut the kerfs at a slight angle. Wedges must fill both die kerf and the gap in tire widened mortise, so they need to be just over /¡6 in. thick at their widest.

An interlocking tongue and groove connects the shelf to the rails that support it (see the drawing detail on p. III). Using a ~4-m. slot cutter 111 my table-mounted router, I cut the groove in the rails, working out die fit on

d.« Pare to marked baseline. Strive for a fair, even curve, and cut down toward the chamfer.

2. Tap a stop for the shoulder at the baseline. Avoid cutting too deeply; just a light tap is needed.

3. Pare into stop to create a shoulder. You have to cut toward the shoulder, so take light cuts and watch which way the grain is running. If you must pare against the grain, make sure your chisel is freshly honed, m test pieces first. The slots are % in. deep. I stopped the grooves in the rails % in. or so short of the mortises on the side rails and short of the tenon shoulders on the front and back rails. I notched the shelf to fit at the corners (see the drawing on p. 110).

I measured the space between the rails of the shelf frame and added % in. in each direction to get the shelf dimensions. J cut the tongue on all four edges on the router table.

CHECK DIAGONALS TO MAKE SURE ASSEMBLIES ARE GLUED UP SQUARE. Clamps and a spacer at the bottom of the legs prevent the clamping pressure at the top from causing the legs to toe In or out.

Gluing up the shelf-frame assembly

Before gluing up the shelf frame, I routed hollows in clamp pads to fit over die through-tenons on two of the shell rails, Then I began gluing Lip the shelf assembly. I applied glue sparingly in the mortises and on the tenons so 1 wouldn't accidentally glue the shelf in place. I pulled the joints tight with clamps and then removed the clamps temporarily so I could insert the wedges.

After tapping the lightly glue-coated wedges into the kerfs in the tenons, 1 reclamped the frame. 1 checked diagonals and adjusted the clamps until the assembly was square. Once the glue was dry, 1 sawed off the protruding tenons and wedges and planed them flush.

Overall glue-up With the shelf frame glued up, the entire table was ready to be assembled. I began the large front-to-back glue-up by dry-clamping the front and back leg assemblies, sides, runners, kickers .'with

splines), dust, panel and shelf assembly. I made adjustments and then glued up.

I made and fit the drawer guides next (see the drawing for placement). I glued the guides to both the sides and the runners and screwed them to the sides with deeply countersunk brass screws.

I did a thorough cleanup of the table in preparation for drawer fitting. I removed remaining glue, ironed out dents and sanded the entire piece with 120-grit sandpaper on a block. 1 gently pared sharp corners, taking care not to lose overall enspness.

The Drawer n

I particularly enjoy making and fitting drawers. A well-made drawer that whispers in and out gives me great satisfaction. I use the traditional British system of drawer-making. which produces what my teachers called a piston fit. The process is painstaking, but the results are well-worth the effort. That, however, is a story for another day.

Making and Attaching the Top

After I thicknessed and cut the top to size, I placed it face down on my bench. I set the glued-up base upside down on the top and oriented it so it would have a I-in. overhang all around. 1 marked the positions of the outside corners and connected them with a pencil line around the perimeter. This line is one edge of the bevel on the underside of the top. Then I used a marking gauge to strike a line /is in. from the top surface on all four edges. Connecting the two lines at the edges created the bevel angle (see the drawing on p. 110). I roughed out the bevel on the tablesaw and cleaned it up with a plane. The bevels should appear to grow out of the tops of the legs.

Making and attaching the coved lip

The cove at the back of the top is a strip set into a rabbet at the back. I cut the cove from the same board I used for the top so that grain and color would match closely. I ripped the cove strip on the tablesaw and handplaned it to fit the rabbet. I shaped the strip on the router table, leaving the point at which it intersects the top slightly proud. To provide even clamping pressure, I used a

SIMPLE FRAME KEEPS LEGS SPACED ACCURATELY and the base of the table square. A ¿¡¡-in.-thicfc piece of hardboard and some scrap blocks make up this handy frame. With the legs properly spaced, the author can mark the shoulders of the shelf-frame rail against the tapered legs as well as take precise measurements for runner and kicker lengths.

rabbeted caul, clamping both down and in (see the photo at right).

When the glue was dry, I planed the back and the ends of the cove flush with the top. lo form a smooth transition between top and cove in front, I used a curved scraper, followed by sandpaper on a block shaped to fit the cove. I frequently checked the transition with my hand and . sanded a wider swath toward the end. It's easy to go coo far and have a nasty dtp in front of the cove.

I drew the ends of the cove with a French curvc and then shaped the ends with a coping saw, chisel and sandpaper. The curve should blend into the tabletop seamlessly.

Finishing up with Oil After finish-sanding, I applied several coats of raw linseed oil diluted with mineral spirits m a 50/50 mix, a few more coats of straight linseed oil and, finally, two to three coats of tung oil to harden the surface. I let the oil dry thoroughly between coats. After the last coac of oil was dry, 1 rubbed the surface down with a Scotch-Brite pad and gave the table a few coats of paste wax. The drawer was the exception: Aside from the face of the drawer front, all other surfaces were finished with wax alone.

Attaching the top 1 screwed the top to the top-drawer rail from beneath to fix its position at the front. That way, the mating of the bevel with the front rail will be correct and any seasonal movement of the top will be at the back. I attached the top to the base with buttons on the sides and in the rear.

RABBETED CLAMPING BLOCK HELPS PROVIDE PRESSURE IN TWO PLANES. The author clamps down the cove strip with six C-clamps and into the rabbet with six bar clamps. A spring clamp on each end closes any visible gaps at the ends.

A'ART TWO

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