across of vcnccr to prevent splitting.

beams with pairs of pipe clamps.

ttoji cauls to prevent veneer from sticking.

wing eucalyptus for my face veneer, but you can buy many equally dramatic species from retail and mail-order veneer suppliers. (See Sources, page 39.) You'll need two pieces of veneer large enough to make a bookmatched face. Specify sequential pieces so they will match. Also order enough backer veneer (it needn't be matched) to cover the underside of the lop. Here's how I suggest constructing the top: Cut the core to size. I made mine in. longer and wider than the measured opening between the rails, to allow for a '/«-in. tongue all around.

Prepare your veneers. Arrange your pieces of face veneer edge to edge, so you can view the bookmatch effect and select the part of the veneer you want to display. Prccut the two pieces to the length of your top blank with a veneer saw (see Sources) or by repeated scoring with a sharp mat knife. You can leave them over-width for now.

For a clean, tight bookmatch. you need to joint the veneer edges. Clamp the two picccs of vcnccr between two straight-edged pieces of lumber or plywood, with their edges extend-

Jointing the veneers. Plane the edges of the face veneers with a block plane. Veneers are clamped between two straight-edged boards.

ing about '/ji in. (Sec photo, above left.) Joint the veneer edges with a sharp block plane, stopping when the plane's sole touches the clamp blocks.

Tape the veneers together. I use perforated paper veneer tape (see Sources) to secure this edge-to-edge joint. (See photo, above right.) Tape across the seams in several places, stretching the tape as you hold the vcnccr picccs together. Then apply tape lengthwise over the seams between your first perpendicular

Taping the veneers. Author tapes the faces with special perforated veneer tape. Shop-made dispenser is bi background.

pieces of tape. To keep the ends of the veneer from splitting in the veneer press, I usually tape across the full widths of the ends as well.

When you've finished taping, turn the joined pieces over and sand the glue faces lightly with 180-grit sandpaper to remove any roughness and grime. Then blow off the sanding dust with compressed air.

Prepare your vcnccr press. Whether you use a dedicated press or one contrived from ordinary clamps

Bite your tongue. Author saws off the tongue at the corners of the top to fit the notched legs.

and beams (see sidebar, page 37). wax the inner faces of your cauls thoroughly with a coat of paste wax to prevent the glue (and veneer) from sticking to them.

Glue the veneer to the substrate. I use a 3-»n. disposable foam paint roller to apply a uniform coating of yellow glue to one side of the core at a time. As I center the face and backer on the core, I tape the edges with a few pieces of masking tape. The tape keeps the veneer from slipping on its film of glue as pressure is applied.

Tighten the clamps on the center beams first, then work outward to the ends. Now retighten all the clamps. Allow the glued assembly to dry for at least 12 hours in the press before disturbing the clamps.

Clean up the veneered faces. You can sand the paper tape off if you like, but it s easy to remove if you dab each piece of tape with a wet cloth and allow a few minutes for the water to penetrate. Then it should scrape off easily with a cabinet scraper. It's a good idea to trim the edges of the veneer flush with the substrate so they don't catch on something and tear out. I usually scrape veneered surfaces with a cabinct scrapcr, then sand them to 180 grit with a palm sander, holding it flat to avoid sand-throughs.

Rabbet tongues on the top's edges. Use a router or tablesaw to cut the rabbets, and make sure the shoulder-to-shoulder dimensions arc-equal to (or just slightly less than) the inside dimensions of the lcg-and-rail assembly. The tongue should slip easily, but not sloppily, into the rail grooves. Saw off the tongues at the corners where the top meets the legs. (See photo, left.)

Gluing Up the Table

Glue-up is easiest if you begin with the top upside down on your bench. First glue the end rails to the legs, then glue the two long rails to the sides of the top, and finally glue the leg-and-rail assemblies to the top and long rails. When applying glue to the loose spline joints, brush a liberal coat of glue into each mortise and a thin coat on all the tenon faccs. Oncc the parts arc assembled, turn the table upright on your bench for clamping.

You can attempt to clamp this assembly with a single, large band clamp, but I've found that pipe or bar clamps provide more pressure and more control over its direction. Use plastic clamp pads or scraps of leather

Notching the Ieg. Saw inside your layout marks first (above), then chisel away the waste (below).

to keep the clamps from marring the carved surfaces. If your bench is flat, you can use a framing square to check that the tips of the feet are in line with the knees above them. Alternately, you could use a piece of plywood with blocks of scrapwood tacked to it to hold the feet at exactly the right spacing while the glue dries.

The Inlay Banding

The inlay banding (sec drawing) serves two purposes—one aesthetic and one functional. Aesthetically, it provides a visual transition between the blond wood of the top and the darker lcg-and-rail assembly. Functionally, it bridges any slight gaps in the glue line between the top and the rails. Here's how I suggest inlaying the banding:

Rout the grooves. I used a '/fein. straight router bit, guided by a template bushing, to cut the four '^-in.-dcep grooves. To set up for routing, clamp a straight-edged piece of l/f in. plywood across the top of the table for cach groove (see left photo, opposite page), making sure the router bit is centered on the glue line. The top is rcccsscd % in. from the tops of the rails, so you'll need to place a !/fc-in. shim under the center of your plywood guide strip. The shim will keep the guide strip from deflecting as you move your router along it, changing the depth of cut. Begin and end the grooves about lA in. shy of the corners. and remove the rest of the waste at the interactions with chisels. (See center photo, opposite page.)

Make the banding. I made mine from some scraps of rosewood I'd been saving. I planed them down to the exact width of the grooves with my Inca planer, then I ripped them to about Vi6 in. on the tablesaw with a fine-tooth carbide blade. I suspect you can plane stock this thin with almost any of the small, high-rpm planers on the market (follow the manufacturer's instructions), but I wouldn't attempt it with a larger planer unless I secured the stock to a clean piece of plywood with double-stick tape. An alternative method is to rip both the thickness and the width of the banding on the tablesaw using a zero-clearance throat plate. Once I'd ripped the bandings, I cut them to length with a handsaw,

Grooving for inlay. Rout the inlay grooves with a plunge router and a straight bit, using a piece of ^-in. plywood as a template guide (left). Then chisel the corners to complete the groove (center).

Blending the curves. After gluing up the table, fair the inside curves of the legs and rails with a patternmaker's rasp.

then sanded the miters to exact length on the disc sander.

Install the banding. Glue the banding into the grooves with yellow glue, tapping the pieces into place with a small hammer. If the fit is snug, no clamping is necessary.

Details, Details

At this point, there's light at the end of the tunnel. Here's the list of remaining construction steps:

Scrape the banding flush. When using your scraper, make sure to bend it enough to avoid digging the scraper's corners into the veneer.

Shape the tops of the legs. These need to be carved to match the bevels of the rails. This is a bit tricky because you're dealing with end grain. 1 used the corner of a paring chisel to nibble away at the protruding ends of the legs until I had approximated the final shape. I switched to a scraper to smooth out the chisel marks, then I refined the contours with some 180-grit sandpaper on my palm-grip rail-

Bridging the gap. Inlay banding provides a visual transition between top and rails.

dom-orbit sander. Use a feather touch here to avoid unwanted gouges.

Random-orbit sandcrs didn't exist when I built the earlier table, and franklv, I was amazed at how well the

sander's round pad handled delicate, controlled sanding, even on the subtle contours of the legs and rails.

Shape the inner leg curves. Here, I started with a Nicholson «50 patternmaker's rasp (see Sources) to fair the curves. I cleaned up the rasp marks with 120-grit sandpaper wrapped around a leather pad. When I was satisfied with the inside curves, I used scrapers and 18()-grit sandpaper to transition the rounded edges of the rails into the hard edges of the legs.

Finish sanding. Since I planned on applying an oil finish. I sanded the entire table to 320 grit with my random-orbit sander. Then 1 brushed on two thin coats of blond shellac (for more on shellac, see AW and sanded again with 320-grit paper.

It's All Over but the Oiling

At the risk of seeming dyed-in-the-wool. I confess I'm still using the same oil finish I used on my mother-in-law's table in 1975: Waterlox "Transparent" (available at many paint stores or by mail from Rudy's. 4086 E. 71st St., Cleveland, OH 44105, 800-248-7839) wiped on with a rag. But I also like General Finishes "Seabed." a similar formulation (available from Woodworker's Supply, 5604 Alameda Place NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113. 800-6-15-9292).

I thin the first two coats about 20 percent with naphtha and wet-sand the second coat with 400-grit wet-dry paper. Then 1 wipe on several more thin coats of undiluted Waterlox, letting each dry for at least six to eight hours before recoating. Finally, I rub the entire surface lightly with an extra-

fine nylon abrasive pad and buff with a soft cloth.

Now, I wonder what to barter for this time A

ELLIS WALENTINE is executive editor of A u.

Veneers and perforated tape are available by mail from:

Certainly Wood

11753 Big Tree Rd. East Aurora, NY 14052 (716) 655-0206 Circle #622


2050 Eastchester Rd. Bronx. NY 10461 (800) 223-8087 Circle #623

Veneer saws and patternmakers' rasps are available from:

Garrett Wade

161 Ave. of the Americas New York, NY 10013 (800) 221-2942 Circle #624

Highland Hardware

1045 N. Highland Ave. NE Atlanta, GA 30306 (800) 241-6748 Circle #625

Guide to Oscillating Spindle ing curvcd work. However, each model we tested had particular strengths and weaknesses. These findings appear with other key specifications in the chart on page 42. But before you dig into the details, let's take a look at how an oscillating spindle sander works.

We Test Eight



By Dave Sellers scillating spindle sanders support the contention that looks can be deceiving. These machines certainly don't appear impressive—all you sec is a sanding drum projecting up through a work table. But try one out and you'll soon see that nothing beats them for sanding curved and contoured shapes. Up, down and around. These dual-motion machines are

The drum on an oscillating unmatched for sanding curves smoothly, and they minimize spindle sander moves up and clogging of the abrasive and burning of the wood, down as it spins. This dual-

motion action lets vou use more of

the sanding drum's abrasive surface than you would on a drum that just rotates. The result? An oscillating spindle sander removes stock faster and produces a smoother finished surface. It helps prevent burn marks on the wood, and the oscillating action prolongs abrasive life by minimizing clogging.

For all their attributes, oscillating spindle sanders have only recently made their way into small and medium-sized workshops. This is because these tools have traditionally been too large and too expensive for small-shop use.

Today, a handful of manufacturers have brought a new generation of downsized oscillating spindle sanders to the market at much more affordable prices. In the same way that portable planers brought planing capabilities to legions of small-shop owners, these new sanders promise to "oscillate" your sanding operations without busting your wallet.

To see how these oscillating spindle sanders perform, and to compare the brands currently on the market, we tested seven models that sell from about $175 to $895. (At this writing, Sears planned to introduce an oscillating spindle sander in early fall 1994; see "In the Works," page 78.) Wc also tried out a unit that converts your drill press into an oscillating spindle sander. (See sidebar, opposite page.)

We checked out each sander's power and construction quality. We also evaluated dust-collection capability and tested how easy or difficult it is to change sanding dnims. One general finding stood out as we put these machines through their paces: Oscillating spindle sanders are hands-down winners over conventional drum sanders when it comes to sand

Sander Anatomy

Oscillating spindle sanders arc basically simple machines. A typical sander consists of a work table, a motor, a vertical metal spindle and an oscillation mechanism which produces the up-and-down motion. The machines come with rubber dnims of different diameters which hold matching sanding sleeves. The drums and their abrasive sleeves fit over the spindle. All machines but the Vega have table inserts that correspond to drum sizes. This enables you to support the workpiece close to the drum—a distinct advantage when sanding small parts.

The units we looked at ranged from small benchtop machines such as the Rvobi to the substantial Enlon machine, which has the size and weight (340 pounds) of an industrial model. All the sanders run at about the same speed—from 1,700 to 2,000 rpm. with 60 to 75 oscillations per minute. Beyond these basic characteristics, there arc some important differences to note.

Power—The key to these sanders' performance is their oscillating motion, but that wouldn't be worth much if they bogged down in action. For our power test, we sanded 6/4 pine and 8/4 maple, using an 80-grit sanding sleeve on the 2-in.-dia. drum

Sanding bevels is easier and more precise on a sander with a tilting table.

Different drums. Mounting schemes vary for different machines. Sanding drums (far left, top and bottom) are the easiest to change. The Enlon (top right) and Vega (bottom right) have separate spindles for each drum size. The Powermatic (bottom center) has a mix of spindles and drums.

supplied with each machine. We smoothed rough bandsawn curves and also tried a "scat-of-tlic-pants" stall test, pressing the wood against the sleeves with more force than you'd ever use in real working conditions.

Sanding bevels is easier and more precise on a sander with a tilting table.

capability to match sleeve size to the curve of your workpiece. Enlon offers the largest variety, with 10 different diameters available. Vega only supplies three.

The ability to switch drum sizes and sanding sleeves quickly and easily is a real convenience. Here we found some important differences among our test units. (See photo, left.) The Clayton, Crouch and Ryobi machines use the simplest scheme: A single metal spindle holds each machine's full selection of drum and sleeve sizes. To change sizes, you just remove a top nut and washer, lift off the drum and sleeve and replace these with another set. You can also leave the drum in place and change only the sleeve, as when switching to another grit.

The En Ion. Vega and Powermatic machines require more work to change drum sizes. On the Enlon, small-diameter sanding sleeves slip directly onto a spindle instead of a rubber drum. To switch to larger sizes, you have to unscrew the spindle with two wrenches and replace it with a different spindle and sleeve. On the Vega machine, you first raise the table, then loosen the spindle with an Allen wrench in order to replace it with another size. The Powermatic Artisan's drum-changing scheme includes both different-sized

Dust collection is incorporated into the design of all sanders but the Vega. With a shop vacuum hooked up to the Ryobi's dust collection port, sawdust is efficiently sucked down past the table insert.

Although their amp ratings varied from 3-5 to 9 amps, surprisingly all our test sandcrs had enough power to handle the routine drum-sanding tasks we tried. While it was possible to stall the smaller sandcrs by pressing very hard against their drums, you'd probably bum the wood if you worked them that hard. So we rated each sandcr's power with a realistic workload in mind, and they all got high marks. (See chart.)

Changing Spindles, Drums and Sleeves—All the machines in our tests come with different drum and matching abrasive sleeve sizes. (The chart shows which sizes are standard and optional for each machine.) A wide selection of sizes is definitely an advantage, since it gives you more

Dust collection is incorporated into the design of all sanders but the Vega. With a shop vacuum hooked up to the Ryobi's dust collection port, sawdust is efficiently sucked down past the table insert.

spindles and different-sized drums, and it's equally time-consuming.

Overall, we found it much easier to change drum sizes on the sanders

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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

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