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Drilling Out the Mortise. A long, L-shaped support will make the job of drilling out the mortises on the drill press go much easier.

Cleaning Up the Mortises. After cleanup with a chisel, the two mortises should meet in a sharp corner (detail 'a').

same — with just one important exception. When you build the medium and large table, you're only going to install one lower end rail. This leaves one end of these two tables open so that all three can be nested together.

FIRST, THE MORTISES. The first thing I did was mark the legs clearly so I wouldn't get confused while laying out and cutting the joinery. Then the centered mortises can be laid out, as shown in details 'a' and 'b' above. You'll want to keep a couple things in mind here: The upper and lower mortises in the legs are identical in size, but the location is a little different in relation to the top and bottom of the leg. The upper mortises start V2" from the leg top, the lower mortises 5/a" from the leg bottom. And then remember that the two larger tables have only one lower end rail.

Once the mortises are laid out, the How-To box on page 36 shows how to cut them. You can rough out the waste at the drill press, then clean up the mortise at the bench with a sharp chisel. The two mortises on the adjacent faces should meet as shown in the detail.

NOW, THE RAILS. With the mortises complete, you can set the legs aside for a while. Making the rails comes next. This job is pretty straightforward, but again, there are several things to point out.

The small table shown has two upper side rails, two lower side rails, two upper end rails, and two lower end rails (drawings, opposite page). The upper rails are 'A" wider than the lower rails. So again, you'll want to mark the parts to keep them straight.

TENONS. After the rails are cut to size, you'll need to make tenons on the ends to fit the mortises in the legs. The box at right will run you through the process, step by step. One important thing to note is that the layout of the tenons on the upper and lower rails is different (details 'a' and 'b' opposite page). The drawings show the sequence for the tenons on the upper rails.

As you can see, the final step is to miter the ends of the tenons that fit adjacent mortises. You want to be sure to leave space for glue (Vie") between the mitered faces.

How-To: Cutting the Tenons

Remove the Bottom Waste. Next, you want to cut away the waste at the bottom of the tenon. Hike to nibble away at it with light passes.

Cut the Cheeks. You can start sizing the tenons by using a wide dado blade to cut the cheeks. Sneak up on the thickness of the tenon.

Remove the Bottom Waste. Next, you want to cut away the waste at the bottom of the tenon. Hike to nibble away at it with light passes.

Now, the Upper Waste. To complete the job, raise the blade to sneak up on the final width of the tenon. Use the mortise to check the fit.

Mitered Ends. The ends of most of the tenons will need to be mitered. This allows the two opposing tenons to both fit into the mortises.

Now, the Upper Waste. To complete the job, raise the blade to sneak up on the final width of the tenon. Use the mortise to check the fit.

Mitered Ends. The ends of most of the tenons will need to be mitered. This allows the two opposing tenons to both fit into the mortises.

A GROOVE. With the joinery complete, there's one last task before the frames can be assembled. The upper rails need a groove (just a saw kerf) to accept table top fasteners (detail 'a' opposite page).

THE ASSEMBLY. The drawings below show how i went about the assembly. Since all three tables will eventually nest "as one," 1 paid extra attention to making sure the frames ended up square and true.

Shop Tip: Frame Assembly upper rails shown

upper rails shown

NOTE: Medium table shown

NOTE: Use

NOTE: Compare comer-to-comer measurement to check for square

NOTE: Medium table shown

NOTE: Compare comer-to-comer measurement to check for square

NOTE: Use

NOTE:

Side assemblies have been glued

NOTE: Medium table shown

- Spacer matches lulder-to-shoulder length of end rail

Long Sides First. I started assembling the frames by gluing up Add the End Rails. Complete the job by gluing the end rails the two sides. Once the clamps are tightened, check for square, between the sides. A spacer block helps square the larger tables.

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