Template-rout the bottom curve. After bandsawing the stretchers to rough shape, use a template jig to rout the long curve.
Rout the two end curves. Use another template jig to rout the finished end curves, flipping the workpiece end-for-end between cuts.
Shaping the Stretchers
I use a pattern-cutting bit and a couple of template-routing jigs to cut identical curves on the stretchers quickly and accurately. One jig cuts the bottom curve and the other jig cuts the end curves. (See photos, above.) Each jig has a base, backstop and cndstop made of
V*2-in. MDF. The jig for the bottom curve is 5 by 16 in. overall, and the jig for the end curve is SV*> by 10. Both jigs employ quick-action toggle clamps, scrcwed to the backstop, to hold down the workpieces during the cut.
When drawing the curves onto the bases of the jigs, extend the line a little beyond the actual cut, so that the router bit's bearing registers on the template's edge before entering the cut and after exiting the cut. One important note about template-routing curves: Before routing, I'm careful to bandsaw the curve very close to the layout line— about V32 outside of the line. Then there's very little wood for the router to remove, and that leaves practically no chance for tearout, even when routing against the grain.
I made another template out of V5|-in.-thick hardboard to draw the curves at the tops and feet of the legs, so that all eight of them would be uniform in shape. Use Fig. 1 to make the template. I trace the lines onto each leg and band-saw the waste. Curve only the outside face of the top, but curve three faces of each foot, leaving the inside face straight. I use a 2-in. drum sander mounted on the drill press for the top curve; several passes with the spokeshave clean up the bottom curves.
1 make a saw kerf in. deep to establish the top of the foot. Kerf only the outer and side faces, not the inside face.
Drilling Dowel Holes
I use dowels in the leg joints not only to add strength, but also to help locate and align the stretchers during assembly.
There are two keys to drilling the dowel holes accurately. First, use a straight-edge fence along the back of the drill-press table. Position the fence lVg in. off the point of the bit (a l^-in. brad- • point bit) to drill holes in the stretchers, j and in. from the bit's ccntcrpoint for j the legs. Clamp stops along this fence to | index the holes in the stretchers and legs.
Counterbore holes for tabletop hold-down screws in stretcher "A" only.
FIG. 2: SHOULDERED HALF-LAP JOINT
To form the shoulders, cut V16-d. by 5/8-w. dadoes across both faces of the "A" stretchers. Then cut the half-laps in the "A" stretchers. Finally, cut the mating half-laps in the "B" stretchers. Make precise cuts to ensure that the joint is flush top and bottom, and the parts fit together with slight friction.
SHOULDER Vl6 D.
Stage 2. Clue the "B" and "A" stretchers together, then glue and clamp the remaining legs in place.
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