Table Base – part 1



Today I worked on the table base and skirt.  The first job was to cut all the peg holes, and mortises in the legs.  Since the table legs have 1/2 of taper across their length, I needed a spacer of the right height to make the center axis parallel to the mortiser table.  I also used a bit of cutoff material to even out the clamping pressure on the front clamp face.  Second, I setup the indexing pin on the end of the table to allow each leg to be inserted into the table exactly the same.  Finally, I setup the depth of the mortiser following my layout lines on the first leg, and set the depth stops.  Then it was time to go to town!


P1010187P1010193  P1010181a P1010183 P1010184


So, its about an hour of setup, and 15 minutes of actual cutting to get these results.



Once the legs were all complete, it was time to focus on cutting the first tenon.  The first one always takes the longest.  They are always a bit fiddly.  You don’t want to cut them too thin, but you don’t want to leave them so thick that you have to spend hours planing them to final thickness.  My preferred method is to use the radial arm saw to cut the tenon…in a nibbling fashion.

Because the legs are tapered, the skirt tenon needs to match that taper.  So, first I made a template to use as a marking and cutting guide for the shoulders.  I used a Japanese saw to hand cut the shoulders, and then I used the radial arm saw to cut the cheeks.  Finally I used a shoulder plane (Stanley #56) to fine tune the fit, and a chisel to undercut the shoulders slightly.

P1010185 P1010187

This first tenon took a couple hours to work through all the details (matching taper angles, testing tenon thickness, setting up the radial arm saw, etc).  Now that I have jigs for everything the rest of the skirt joints will go fairly quickly.

Anyway, here’s the first joint dry-fit.  The blue tape is there to make my pencil marks show up.  Looking good, I think.

P1010185 P1010186  P1010187a


P1010188 P1010189P1010181

Oh, one last thing: The original design had called for the skirts to be 2 1/4″ wide—that’s pretty dainty.  The original top was only going to be 7/8″ thick or so.  But, now the actual top is 1 1/2″ thick, and weighs around 100 lbs.  I was afraid that the base would be too dainty and the joinery wouldn’t be able to withstand the momentum that a 100 lbs top could establish.  However, it turns out that I’d left the skirt material wide at 3″ and had planned to cut it down afterwards.  Good fortune!  So, I’m leaving it the full 3″ wide.  The legs are still tall enough that the skirt is several inches above knee height.  So, it doesn’t create any kind of ergonomic issue.  Whew!



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