Firstly, the wife and I have been travelling. We have fallen in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and were there a couple of weeks ago for a full week (this, I believe is our fifth trip to the area). We accomplished some bucket list things like stay at the Pisgah Inn which is right on the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville, NC. Then we drove southwest from there and covered parts of the parkway which we have never been on. We made it to Richland Balsam Overlook which is the highest point on the parkway (Mount Mitchell is higher, but I guess it is technically not on the parkway). We were close enough to the Great Smoky Mountains that we thought about just driving all the way to the beginning of the parkway, but were running out of time. So that is a bucket list item for me: to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway from the beginning up to Asheville. We have gone as far north on the parkway as Blowing Rock, NC, so there is still much to explore.
Asheville is a fantastic place for a woodworker to visit. It is home to the Grovewood Gallery, one of the finest galleries in the USA for viewing fine handcrafted furniture (see an earlier blog post about Grovewood here). We found a new gallery: Foundation Woodworks, a gallery with an attached woodworking shop where craftsmen and women can rent space to work wood. We always visit the Folk Art Center of the Southern Highland Craft Guild which is on the parkway near Asheville. Lots of finely crafted furniture there (and many other types of hand crafts). And I have been to the workshops of Brian Boggs and Scott Meek and I always try to buy something at Asheville Hardware. There is much more to see and do related to woodworking and I highly recommend multiple trips to the area.
This is my best video from the trip and a note: I get tongue tied on the word “elevation” and this is Cullowhee Mountain Overlook. Be sure to click the lower right of the video to take it full screen…
As our vacation came to a close, I finished the initial design of a dining table for a family friend and then completed the woodworking plan for Jay Bates. With these two side projects taken care of, I could turn to the next step for my Montreat Side Table.
Montreat Mortise and Tenon Joinery
Having already created mortises for the legs in this blog post and cutting the aprons and stretchers to their final size (see this post), it’s time to form tenons. To me, tenons are the easier part of a mortise and tenon joint and are more fun because I get to use some hand tools.
I need to form tenons on the ends of the side and back aprons as well as the side, front and back stretchers. This is a simple process of making cuts at the table saw, but I’ll do them in a specific order…
The critical dimension for the aprons and stretchers are shown in the SketchUp image above. I mark the boundary of the tenons on these parts. The side aprons and stretchers have a length of 16 3/4″ between the legs. The front and back stretchers along with the back apron are 22 3/4″ between the legs. I carefully mark the tenon locations and using my miter gauge equipped with a stop, I first cut all the tenon locations and then nibble away material to form the thickness of the tenon. The thickness is fine tuned with a rabbet block plane, frequently checking the fit with the legs.
BY THE WAY: I have heard some super skilled and very respected furniture makers talk how a rabbet block plane like mine above is a poor choice for trimming fat tenons. To which I would say why? I’ll acknowledge that the even more specialized shoulder plane is a better choice. I suspect there is nothing more helpful than the weight of a good, heavy shoulder plane for moving a plane blade across the cross-grain surface of a tenon. But, for me such planes are very specialized. I have an old wooden shoulder plane I am restoring, but I like my Lie Nielsen #60-1/2. One day I suspect I’ll add a quality shoulder plane to my tool kit, but I’ll need to be making a lot more furniture before I buy one. My #60-1/2 works just fine for now.
If you look closely at the last two photos, you can see that I still have not removed mill marks on the surfaces of the table so far. I have already dropped one leg resulting in a dent. That is just going to happen I guess. But, I am going to research a repair. A couple of the tenons are too loose for my taste, so I’ll add some shims to those. But overall, I am very pleased at this point.
Next for the Montreat Side Table
Right now, the table is loose fit (no glue). Before I begin glue-up, I’ll need to add the walnut slats to the sides and back; plus I need to add the angular shape to the stretchers. I’ll also need to make a web frame for the drawer area. All of which will be fun because at this point, everything I do will have a big impact on the look of the table.
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