Side Stretcher

Making the Arm Assembly

I like to start with the arm assembly, one of the more difficult sections of the project. The assembly consists of three parts: the crest rail and a pair of arms that join it. (Sec Fig. 1.)

First, make stiff paper templates of the arm and crest rail. (See Fig. 2.) Mill the stock for the arms and the rail, selecting even, straight-grained material. Then, use the templates to lay out the parts, making sure to maximize the long grain in the two arms. I cut out the arms and the crest rail on the bandsaw.

After sawing the arms and crest rail to shape, I clean up the saw marks and fair the curves using a round-bottomed spokeshave and half-round rasps. The best rasps are #49 and #50 Nicholson patternmakers' rasps. You can work these parts comfortably and with great control if you hold them vertically in a bcnch vise.

Next, lay out the lap joint and the cove on the crcst rail. (See Fig. 2.) I cut the cove by hand with a razor-sharp gouge, using the layout lines as a visual guide. (See photos, page 50-) It takes a few passes with the gouge to bring the cove down to depth, so take your time.

With the cove complete, I round over the front face of the crest rail. (See Fig. 2.) The tool of choice for preliminary shaping is a drawknife, because it removes large amounts of material quickly. (For more on drawknives, see AW #49.) I find that drawing the shape of the round-over on the end grain of the rail helps me to visualize the end result as I cut. (See top center photo, page 50.)

After removing most of the material with the drawknife, switch to a round-

FIG. 2: ARM AND CREST RAIL bottom spokcshavc and rasps to refine the surface. Complete the shaping with files, curved scrapers and some 120-grit sandpaper. Don't be too critical about the surface at this point. You'll be doing more shaping and blending after the arms have been attached.

Now you're ready to cut the lap joints in the crest rail. I make most of the rip cut on cach joint on the bandsaw, using a fence to support the work. (See top right photo, below.) I complete the cut at the bench with a Japanese kugihiki handsaw. Then I make the final cut across the shoulder with a backsaw. Remove the saw marks with a sharp, wide bcnch chisel, paring the joint until the arm fits in the lap without gaps.

Gluing the arms to the crest rail presents a clamping problem bccausc of the curved surfaces of the rail. I solve this by clamping the parts upside down on my bcnch. (Sec bottom left photo, below.)

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