Stephen Lamont

Making an End Table bout 10 years ago, I began to tire of my job as a corporate pilot. The work was challenging and enjoyable, but the time away from home put a strain on my family. The job was becoming more technical, too. Temperamentally, I've always been more of a craftsman than a technician.

After considerable soul-searching, I decided to become a furnituremaker. I wanted a solid foundation of basic skills, so I went to England where I trained with Chris Faulkner. He emphasized developing hand-tool skills and building simple, comfortable furniture that asked to be used—a basic tenet of the British Arts-and-Crafts movement. My preferences to this day are for this kind of furniture and for the use of hand tools whenever their use will make a difference.

About two years ago, I designed and built the end table shown in the photo at right. Although it's an original design, many details come from other pieces of furniture in the British Arts-and-Crafts tradition. The joinery is mortise-and-tcnon and dovetail throughout.

The construction of the table can be divided into five main steps: stock preparation and panel glue-up; making the front and rear leg assemblies; connecting drese two assemblies (including making the shelf and its frame); making and fitting the drawer; and making and attaching the top.

Stock Selection and Preparation

I milled all the stock for this table to within in. of final thickness and width. 1 also glued up the tabletop, the shelf and the drawer bottom right away to give them time to move a bit before planing them to final thickness. This helps ensure they'll stay flat

Dust Panel Cabinet

overhang all around '

Plywood splines, 1-/; in. Join kickers and runners to the side aprons.

Tenons a mite red at back corners.

Guide

Stub tenons join runners and kickers at front and rear.

Kicker

Back apron

Runner

Button

Dust panel, V4-in. cherry plywood

Top drawer rail

Bottom drawer rail

Legs a re chamfered on all but the inside corners.

Grooves are stopped Va in. shy of mortises and tenons in shelf-support rails.

in the finished piece. With these three panels in clamps, I dimensioned the rest of the parts to a hair over final thickness. I finish-planed them by hand just before marking out any joinery.

Making the Front and Rear Assemblies

Layout began with the legs. I numbered them do ckwise around the perimeter, beginning with the left front as I faced the piece, writing the numbers on the tops of the legs (see the top left photo on p. 112). This system tells me where each leg goes, which end of a leg is up and which face is which.

Dovetailing the top rail into the front legs

The dovetails that connect (he top rail to the front legs taper slightly top to bottom. I used the narrower bottom of the dovetail to lay out the sockets in the legs. I he slight taper ensures a snug fit (see the top right photo on p. 112). Don't make the dovetails too large, or you'll weaken the legs.

After I marked, cut and chopped out the sockets, I tested the fit of these dovetails. By using clamping pads and hand screws across the joint, 1 eliminated the possibility of splitting the leg (see the bottom photo on p. 112). The dovetail should fit snuglv but not tightly. Pare the socket, if necessary, until you have a good fit.

Tapering and mortising the legs I tapered the two inside faces of each leg, beginning 4K in. down from the top. I removed most of the waste on the jointer and finished the job with a handplane. '1 he tapers must be flat. To avoid planing over a penciled reference line at the top of the taper, I drew hash marks across it. With each stroke of the plane, the lines got shorter. That let me know how close I was getting.

I cut the mortises for this table on a hollow-chisel mortiser. It's quick, and it keeps all the mortises consistent. I made sure all mortises that could be cut with one setting were done at the same time, even if I didn't need the components right away.

Tenoning the aprons and drawer rail

I tenoned the sides, back and lower drawer rail on the tablesaw, using a double-blade tenoning setup. It takes a little time to get the cut right, but once a test piece fits, tenoning takes just a few minutes. After I cut the tenon checks on the tablesaw, I bands awed just shy of the tenon shoulders and then pared to the line.

One wide apron tenon would have meant a very long mortise, weakening the leg. Instead, I divided the wide tenon into two small tenons separated by a stub tenon (see the drawing detail at right). That left plenty of glue-surface area without a big hole the leg.

Mortising for runners, kickers and buttons The drawer rides on runners that are mortised into the lower front rail and the back apron. Similarly, the kickers at: the tops of the side aprons, which prevent the drawer from drooping when open, arc mortised into the top front rail and the back apron. I cut the -in.-wide mortises for the runner and kicker tenons on the back edge of both drawer rails and on the back apron. There are eight mortises for the drawer runners and kickers. Another seven mortises of the same size are for the buttons that attach the top to the table's base-—-three on the back apron and two on each kicker.

I also cut grooves for the dust panel at this time. The M-m.-thick panel is set into the frame of the table just below the drawer. It's a nice touch, even if its not needed structurally. I cut the grooves for the panel into the bottom of the back apron and into the back of tire drawer rail. (I cut the dust-panel grooves m the drawer runners later.) Then 1 made a test-fit with a scrap oi the same %-in. cherry plywood used for the panel.

Chamfering and gluing up Stopped chamfers are routed on the legs and aprons of this table, each terminating m a carved lamb's tongue. I stopped routing just shy of the area to be carved and then carved the tongue and the little shoulder in three steps, as shown in the photos on p. 113.

Joinery Details

Careful joinery adds to the strength of this Arts-and-Crafts table without compromising its delicate lines.

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