Just typing the post title gets me excited. A new project and do y’all realize how long it has been since I actually made a piece of furniture? The workbench took forever and then the tool cabinet for the bench had some finicky, fussy, time-consuming drawer fronts. Before I built my workbench, I added a much needed cherry and tiger maple tool cabinet and wall surround for my basement steps. Then I built a new tool storage wall, made some bench jigs, then worked on my bandsaw and planer. Plus numerous SketchUp projects/woodworking plans. So, pretty busy really. All of these things were great fun and necessary, but I have not built a piece of furniture since the window seat bookcase, more than three years ago (that’s right, bold and italic font). I can’t believe it has been that long.
So it is a good and right feeling to begin this project. Like my woodworking has been a little out of balance and now is tilting back in the right direction.
Anyway, in my last blog post, I thought there would be at least a few minor design refinements to the Montreat Side Table, and there has been. Even though I like designing in SketchUp, I have learned to make a full size drawing of the design (if possible) and in doing so, I decided a change was needed for the drawer. Let’s take a look at the original design…
From the full size drawing, I determined the drawer was a little too over-bearing; too big, too tall, too thick. The original design called for a drawer that is 5″ tall. To start, I decided to take a quarter-inch out of the drawer height and I thought this was enough. To make a drawer more useful, it’s depth is an important consideration. As a drawer becomes more shallow, my wife and I will be able to store less
junk stuff in it. The location of the angle apex seen in the legs relates to the bottom of the drawer, so I had to move the apex upward 1/4″. The change in the drawer size also meant a corresponding change in the side aprons and the back. I finalized all of this in SketchUp and the result is shown below…
The changes shown above are subtle, but I think leads to a better design. The drawer front being smaller also means the drawer pull and the shelf move upward accordingly.
Mortises for the legs
I sourced some 2″ thick white oak, about 10′ long and 6″-7″ wide; a pretty significant piece of lumber. I chose it because this oak is just about a perfect color match to my renderings. I did not want fancy grain for this project, so the oak is not quarter-sawn. I used my bandsaw for rough rip cuts forming the legs (since it’s tune-up, I plan to use my bandsaw more often). After passes on my jointer and trimming at the table saw, I got the legs to final length but still a little fat all the way around.
I recently was the recipient of a large stash of Woodpeckers tools. Some are shown in the first photos above (the red ones). All of these are nice to have but the one I get the most use from is the Paolini Pocket Rules. I have three of them and they are great layout tools.
I chose the best faces of the boards to be oriented outward (there are three knots I am trying to hide) and then marked the location of all the mortises. I had planned to take the legs to the Alabama Woodworkers Guild workshop, but it was Easter weekend and the shop was closed. I was going to use the Guild’s Powermatic hollow chisel mortiser thinking that drilling and chopping all this white oak would be the best way to go. Instead, I drilled out some of the waste and then used my plunge router equipped with a fence and a 3/8″ straight cutting bit to clean up the mortises after drilling.
In the photo above, I have a little LED light strapped to my head. I got this for Christmas from my wife. I thought it would be an item I’d rarely use, but it has been very helpful to shed light on a task such as the precision routing I was doing. I also have a RZ mask and ear plugs in place. I thought it was sort of funny to have all this stuff on my head.
Giving the legs a little style
A key design element found on the Montreat Side Table is the outward angle seen on each leg. The top of each leg is 1-7/16″ square. Then the legs angle 3/16″ only for the two outward faces. I adjusted this distance a few times and decided any greater outward angle would be tool bold. The angle reaches its apex at 5-3/4″ down from the top of the leg. The leg then tapers back to 1-7/16 square at the bottom of each leg.
I did a lot of layout for each taper and pulled out my trusty tapering jig. This is 1/2″ plywood with a hardwood runner attached to it. The runner slides in the miter gauge slot in my table saw. Careful study of the photo above shows that it is riddled with screw holes. This jig could not be more simple. I place the leg in the proper position; hot melt glue a couple of scraps of wood to the plywood base. Add screws from below and I have a functioning and very crude tapering jig. I also use it for all kinds of odd angles. At some point this jig will have so many screw holes in it that I’ll put it in the trash, and make a new one.
After making cuts to taper the lower ends of the legs, this is what I have…
After some smoothing with my #4 bench plane to remove the milling marks, I’ll have four completed table legs and I didn’t mess them up by putting a mortise in the wrong place or add a taper to the wrong face. I’m pretty pleased at this point.
Next for the Montreat Side Table
I will attempt to re-saw the remaining 2″ thick oak left over from the legs. I hope I’ll be able to get the side aprons and stretchers from this stock. So, the goal for the next update on this project is to have the stretchers completed and maybe even some of the side and back aprons. We will see.
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