By Kelly M E H L E R

his delightful little side table can adapt to a variety of settings in either the home or the office. Its clean Shaker lines make it suitable as a bedside table, end table, or telephone table. The small dovetailed drawer is simple enough for the first-time drawer maker; or you can skip the drawer entirely to simplify the project. In this article I'll suggest how you can adapt the dimensions of the table to suit various needs. I'll explain my approach to selecting and rough milling the wood, and I'll describe a few of my joinery methods. Except for some details, which I'll explain, the table construction is straightforward enough to build from the drawings.

The drawings give the dimensions for a stand-alone side table, but you should consider changing the dimensions to adapt the table to your intended use. As a bedside table, the height of the tablctop should be about even with the top of your mattress. The depth could be between 14 and 16 in. and the width could suit your space.

End tables next to a sofa or easy chair generally come up to the height of the arms. The depth from front to back is usually greater than the width. Many end tables are about 24 in. high, 14 to 16 in. wide and 20 to 23 in. deep.

A side table, say along a wall, can be up to 28 in. high and usually is somewhat wider than an end table — mavbe 20 to 24 in.

I work out any design variations to suit the intended function of the table and then make a sketch with dimensions. Working from the sketch, I make a cutting list and study it. This helps in the selection and purchase of the lumber. With a clear idea of what I need for the project, I'm better prepared to cut the wood economically.

Look over the wood that vou intend to use for the w table and use chalk to roughly mark out the parts that are needed. Take your time when you do this to decide where the best available grain figure should appear in the table; the visual impact of the finished table depends largely on your layout decisions. I choose the wood for the top first, because it's the largest and most visible piece. As you can see in the photo, I re-sawed thick stock and bookmatched two pieces for an attractive figure pattern (see "Joining Edge-to-Edge," in this issue).

Making the Legs

After sawing and planing the legs to the dimensions provided in the Bill of Materials, decide which two will be the front legs and which way they will face. Then mark the faces of the legs that will be mortised. Remember that the rear legs get two mortises, but the front legs get mortised only for the side aprons. Be careful: it's treacherously easy to cut a mortise where it doesn't belong.

I cut the mortises in the legs with a plunge router and fence. I lay out a mortise on one marked face, then transfer the top and bottom lines to the marked faces of the other legs using a square. I clamp three legs side by side in the bench vise to provide a flat surface for the router base, as shown in the photo below. The middle leg of the three is the one that will be mortised, so my first setup will have the leg with the fully laid-out mortise in the middle. I set the router fence to ride against one of the outside legs, then adjust the router's plunge depth turret so the first cut will be '/•» in. deep (the bottom of the haunch) and the rest of the mortise depth will be cut in two or three additional steps. Note that the mortises are not centered in the width of the legs; half of them are off-center one way and half the other way.

Once the legs are mortised, taper them on their two inner sides. I do this on the jointer. I lower the infeed table to about a '/«-in. cut, then clamp a stop block on m m

Rout the leg mortises by clamping three table legs side by side in the vise. The fence rides against the outer leg to mortise the leg in the middle. Afl the mortises can be cut with the same fence setting by rearranging the legs in the vise.


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