Wood Selection > and Preparation
% Now I'm ready to prepare the wood. I 5 used Honduras mahogany with wengc i plugs for this frame. But I've also made frames from cherry, white oak, and ash, and I've used any number of contrasting plantation-grown exotics for the plugs.
Half-laps are one of the simplest ways to make a frame. (See photo, below.) They offer good gluing surfaces and strength while easily accommodating curved
Anatomy of a half-lap. The mirror frame is joined with half-laps. Here, the stile will overlap the cheek of the rail. After assembly, you can add a dowel pin and decorative plug.
frame members. The laps on this frame start out 2'/4 in. square—except for the top rail, where they start out 2V4 in. long by 4'/2 in. wide. 1 cut the curves later on.
Cutting half-laps is easy with a router or a tablesaw—just set up for half the thickness of the stock, and you can cut all the joints identically. Whichever tool you choose, do some test cuts in scrap to make sure the half-laps arc the right thickness.
A tablesaw method—I cut all the half-lap shoulders first, using a combination blade and a simple crosscut box. (See top left photo, page 58.) A stop, clamped to the fence of the crosscut box, ensures accurate cuts.
Next, I trim most of the cheek waste free on the bandsaw. This way, I don't have to worry about these offcuts flying around on the tablesaw. I save the off-cuts and use them as clamping pads when 1 assemble the mirror frame. For smooth gluing surfaces, I finish-cut the cheeks with a tenoning jig on the table-saw. (Sec top right photo, page 58; for a simple tenoning jig, see AW #54.)_
A router method—You can also cut half-laps on the router table. When I do this, I still remove most of the waste on the tablesaw and bandsaw first; then I use my largest-diameter bit, set to cut at half the thickness of the stock. Set the fence just under the full width of the half-lap. This way, you won't cut into the shoulder and create tearout. A chisel cleans up the tiny bit of wood that the router misses.
Cut the joint in several passes across the router bit. The final pass is done with the end of the board tight up against the fence. To keep these narrow pieces stable, gang two picccs together and send them across the bit as a pack-agc; you could also use a wide backer board. Make sure to keep your fingers away from where the bit exits the joint.
After you've cut the half-laps, it's time to rout just the inside curve of the top rail. (See bottom left photo, page 59.) I cut the outside curve later on, after assembly, because a straight cop edge is easier to clamp._
Completing the inside curve takes two cuts—first on the bandsaw, then with the router. I trace both template curves on the rail, and bandsaw the inside curve close co my pencil line. Then 1 accach che template to che rail wich double-faced
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