Center tenon on height of rail.
Milling mortises. A plunge router equipped with ¿in edge guide makes quick work of cutting the leg mortises. Rae supports the router by ganging two legs together.
chc tenon. (See drawing.) I cut one cheek at a time by pushing the stock over the blade with the miter gauge, removing about V8 in. of stock with each pass, beginning at the end of the rail and working toward the shoulder. Use firm, downward pressure. On the final pass, hold the end of the stock against the fence, to establish the shoulder of the tenon. (See photo, far left.)
Once the tenons are cut, crank the blade to 45° and miter their ends, again pushing the stock with the miter gauge. At the bench, round over the tenons to fit the radiused ends of the mortises. 1 pare away each tenon near the shoulder with a sharp chisel, then I round the remainder of the tenon with firm, forward strokes from a patternmaker's rasp. (See photo, near left.)
Pattern-routed curves—The shallow curves on the lower rails provide a visual lift to the table, while preserving the rails' relatively wide shoulders to help prevent the table from racking. You can cut these curves on the bandsaw and fair the surfaces with a spokeshave, or template rout the curves on the router table.
To template rout, make a pattern or template that matches the desired curve of the rail. Then use the template to lay out your workpiece and saw the curve on the bandsaw, staying about '/8 in. away from the line. Attach the work-piece to the template with double-faced tape, and rout the curve by riding the edge of the template against the bearing
Once you've prepared your stock, here are a few notes that will help make construction go more smoothly:
Plunge-routed mortises—The plunge router is the small-shop answer for making slot mortises. You don't need any fancy jigs to get accurate cuts—just an edge guide for your router and a ^8-in.-dia. up-cutting spiral bit.
Set up for plunge routing the mortises by clamping a pair of legs together, as shown in the photo on page 35. This will provide a broad platform for the router base. Rout each mortise with the edge guide bearing against the right side of the workpiece, and push the router away from you during the cut. Plunge
Routing a curve. Rae shapes the lower rail on the router table by guiding a curved template against the bearing of a pattern bit. Double-faced tape holds the workpiece to the jig.
Tenon two-step. Form the tenons on the tablesaw with a carbide-tipped dado blade (left). At the bench, Rae rounds the edges of the tenons with a patternmaker's rasp (right).
space and increased seating capacity, I suggest you build the table to the dimensions shown in the drawing on page 35. If you already own a set of bar-height stools, feel free to use them with the table.
This table isn't very difficult to build, especially when you consider that some of the more challenging aspects—the mortise work and the curved rails—can be accomplished quite easily with a router. If you own a stacked dado blade, even the tenon work may surprise you with its simplicity.
When selecting your wood for this project, consider using a moderately hard wood, particularly for the top and the slats. These two areas will be subject to the most wear. Mill all the parts— especially the legs and the rails—with square faces and ends. When laying out the legs, I took the time to orient the end grain in a pleasing pattern since it would be very visible at the corners of the finished top.
the bit in successive increments of Vh in. or so to prevent chatter.
Once you've cut the mortises, switch to a W-in.-dia. straight bit and rout the slots in the rails for the buttons. (Sec drawing.) Use the same gang-cutting method to plunge rout the slots.
Tenons on the tablesaw—Many woodworkers rip tenons on the tablesaw by holding the work vertically against a tall fence. I form my tenons with the stock flat on the table. The key is to use a carbide-tippcd, stacked dado blade. If your dado head leaves any roughness on the tenon cheeks, you can smooth it with a chisel or rabbet plane.
Set the height of the dado blade to the correct shoulder width of the tenon and adjust the fence for the desired length of
Top-notch work. Use a tall fence attached to the miter gauge to support the work when notching the top. A spacer block clamped to the fence lets the offcuts fall safely away from the blade.
of your pattern or flush-trim bit. (See bottom photo, opposite page.) If tearout is a problem, rout half the curve, then flip the workpiece end-for-end and rout the other half.
Top work—The top is notched to fit around the protruding tops of the legs. (See drawing.) Rather than fitting the top tight to the sides of the legs, I left a gap around the legs to allow room for the top to expand during humid conditions. While the notches in the top can be cut with a handsaw, 1 decided to cut them by standing the top vertically on
Spacing out. Rae uses spacers and a clamp to position the slats before securing them to the rails with screws.
the tablesaw and pushing it over a 40-tooth combination blade. It's a smooth and precise operation.
To make these notch cuts safely* screw a tall fence to your miter gauge to support the top, and clamp a spacer block to the fcncc well before the blade. This way, nothing can bind the offcut between the blade and fence. Raise the blade to the depth of the notch and push the top over the blade. (Sec photo, left.)
Making and attaching the slats— You can design the slats to be equal or variable in width. Either way, remember to drill countcrborcd screw holes in the slats before you attach them to the table. (See drawing.) I used my drill press for this operation.
To install the slats with even gaps between them, I laid them in place on the rails of the table and inserted shims of equal thickness between the slats. (See photo, below.) You may have to joint a couple of slats before all the shims will slip into place. I planed the edges of individual slats with a jack plane, but you can take light passes over the jointer if you wish. Once the slats fie, I prefin-ished their edges because, once installed, the edges are difficult to reach. Til discuss the finish in detail below.
With all the wedges in place, tap the slats into final position and place a bar clamp across the center of the slats to hold them in place. Drill pilot holes into the rails and install the slats with screws. Then fill all countcrborc holes with wooden plugs. Glue the plugs in place, and when the glue has dried, pare and scrape the plugs flush with the slats.
Parts to the finish—1 enjoy finishing furniture most when I can prefinish parts before assembly. With this in mind, I finished the top and the frame as separate pieces.
The finish I used on this table consists of several parts, but the basic ingredient is a wiping varnish. I like this type of finish because it's easy to renew should the furniture require it in the future. I wiped on three to four coats of McCloskey's Tungseal Clear, letting each coat soak into the wood for about 20 minutes. When the finish
Buttons in bulk. Saw notches in a length of stock, then cut individual buttons to length on the chop saw. Black tape on the fence indicates the correct button length.
became tacky, I wiped the surface with a pair of clean, soft cloths to remove any excess. 1 sanded the surface only after the first coat with 220-grit sandpaper.
Prior to the final coat, I gave the table a light scuffing with a fine, nylon abrasive pad. For the final wipe-on/wipe-ofT coat, I mixed together equal parts boiled linseed oil, McCloskey's Quick Dry Varnish, and Benjamin Moore Wood Paste Filler in "natural." Don't be alarmed by the wood filler: The varnish acts as a binder, and with so much finish already in the pores of the wood, using filler in the final coat simply helps to smooth the surface. It won't noticeably change the color of the wood. If you want better protection from spills, you can use a polyurethane instead.
Top it off—The last step is to install the top, and here I again used shims to get the spacing right. Place the top onto the upper rails and insert shims of equal thickness between the legs and the notches in the top. Your top is now automatically centered around the legs. Then secure the top to the frame by screwing the wood buttons to the underside of the top. Don't forget to remove the shims before you call your mother-in-law. A
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