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By AndyT
#1193191
There's a really helpful and generous member on here. He lives down in the New Forest, where he makes astonishingly beautiful furniture for discerning customers who appreciate quality work. He also finds time to patiently answer loads of questions, drawing on his practical experience.

You may have noticed that he has posted several times about this little table:

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He mentioned this table a good while back, when I was just starting to think about making one. Not only did he send me some magazine articles to help inspire me, he offered to sort out some "offcuts" that I could make it from. Naturally, I took him up on his offer and after a pleasant drive down to Hampshire I met him in his workshop where we talked for a couple of hours and he started filling the boot of my car with wood.

I am of course, talking about Custard, the grinning pink cat with the most thumbs-up thank-yous of anyone on this forum. Custard's offcuts are not tiny little scraps like mine, fit only for making dolls house furniture - they are lovely boards of high grade timber which he "just happens" to have sawn and carefully planed to the right sizes to be used as table legs, tops, drawer sides and so on.

So this project starts with a great big Thankyou to Custard. And a big helping of embarrassment that it has taken me over a year of doing all sorts of other things (going on holiday, painting the house, contributing to sharpening threads...) except starting this table. :oops: But now I have finished my other projects. I've done the Christmas shopping. I've tidied the workshop. I've even flattened the top of the bench. I feel really apprehensive about this and don't want to mess it up, but now it's time to start!

One thing I have done in the time is to sit and think carefully about the details of the construction and the size of the table, to fit the one spot in our house where there is room for it. I have studied articles and books and I have forced myself to draw a full-size diagram so I am sure I understand how it all fits together. I've also written out a cutting list.

The design is an old Shaker one. It's in Thomas Moser's book "How to Build Shaker Furniture". It's also featured in a magazine article by Christopher Schwarz available here: https://www.popularwoodworking.com/wp-c ... 4-Seg2.pdf

I need to modify the design a little - I want my table to be rectangular, not square - but I will follow the suggested widths and thicknesses quite closely. That's one reason why I will work in inches on this project. (Other reasons are that most of my measuring tools are imperial and so is most of my brain.) Also, I won't be machining rebates for the drawers, but doing them old-school with dovetails and slips, like I did on my little chest of drawers.

Here is my drawing, on a piece of lining paper, somewhat faded from the weeks it spent laid out on a desk in the spare bedroom.

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Here's part of the top, possibly close enough to see the pencil lines

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The point of the drawing was to force myself to think about the sizes of all the components, including the awkward little runners and stretchers and spacers. There are more separate pieces in this than you might think.

So here you can see the wood that Custard gave me - enough to make two or three tables!

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After an hour or so, I had sorted out which pieces of walnut and oak will be suitable for each item on the cutting list, and labelled them all, so I can be confident that I am using wood which will look right, while not wasting it. Here are all the parts, piled up on my table saw - probably its only contribution to this project.

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The first step has to be gluing up the two pieces of lovely book-matched walnut that will make the top. I want to keep the top as large as I can. If it ends up not the same as I have drawn it, I can adjust dimensions of the other pieces to suit. I'll then make a rod to give me actual dimensions to work to.

So, first decision - which way to edge-join these two pieces. Like this:

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or like this?

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Now, that's sort of a rhetorical question, as I have already glued them together but I hope you all agree that the first option is the right one. I think it looks more like a single piece of wood than the other, where the busier grain doesn't join up so well and the pattern seems to divide into three stripes.

So, I boldly carried on, with a No 7

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and a 4½

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taking not very much off and repeatedly taking each piece in and out of the vice and holding them together up to the light. Eventually I was happy with a very slight gap in the middle and tight ends and moved on to the glue up. I'm using Liquid Hide Glue which says it's ok above 50° F. It's about 56°F / 13°C in my workshop so I should be ok. Out with the protective cloth, Record sash cramps and an antique wooden one. No action shots of putting the glue on, but you all know what that looks like.

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Next time, I'll get the top flattened and squared up and then embark on the framework.
By Chris152
#1193380
Looking forward to seeing this develop. I've learned one thing already - using an off-cut each side of the boards to spread evenly the load exerted by the clamps? I'd not seen that before.
By John15
#1193402
Watching with interest Andy. I'm currently making something similar myself but I'm so slow you will be finished long before me. Good luck.

John
Last edited by John15 on 15 Dec 2017, 16:27, edited 1 time in total.
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By Sheffield Tony
#1193422
Ahh great. I do love your projects Andy.

But ... I'm not sure your rhetorical question has a completely obvious answer. I can see the option you chose avoids jarring mismatch of the grain patterns at the join.
It fits very much with advice I've seen in earlier thread (from Custard ?). But for someone used to seeing wide boards sawn "through and through", it looks strangely inside out !
I mean that in a single wide board, you'd get the annual rings at the steep angle towards the edges, and nearer parallel to the face in the middle, so the wide,
wavy grain in the middle and the close straighter grain at the sides. Not that I disagree with your decision, but I think the question is worth considering.
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By AndyT
#1193433
Thanks all for your interest and encouragement - it's really welcome. Tony, thanks for your thoughts on the matching - I see what you mean, and it's why I hesitated, but in the end it was my desire to make the join disappear which won.

Anyone who's looked at one of my earlier projects will know not to expect rapid progress, but I like covering things in some detail. It's interesting to compare methods and there's always the chance that someone will learn from what they see, or suggest a better method I'd not used.
Today's update is on a couple of hours of work, but won't look much.

I took the top out of the cramps and was pleased to see that the glue line was nice and tight.
The wood was not perfectly flat, so I knew that I would need to do some planing, but I don't want to do more than I have to. The wood is only about 5/8" thick, which is fine - I want this to look delicate - but there is no gain by wasting away wood.

It was high along the outer edges and low in the middle.

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Simple planing against a couple of bench dogs was all it needed, skewing the back of the plane on the low middle.

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The plane was a bit hard to push, so I stopped and sharpened it. I mention that just to stress how frequent sharpening needs to be - just like sharpening a pencil - not because I want to discuss how to sharpen.

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I stopped flattening before I had got the top completely flat. I wouldn't normally bother measuring flatness, I'd just test against a straight edge, but for the sake of clarity, it's about 10 thou hollow in the middle. I can easily deal with that later when I can give the top its final surface. If I do it now I risk having to take more wood off if I accidentally mark it. I'll put a bevel on the underside later, but not until I have made the framework and can check the sizes of bevel needed.

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A question - the top has a pair of tiny insect holes. I would fill these with walnut sawdust and hide glue - but can anyone suggest anything better that I ought to be using? Do I need to do anything to remove the blackening on the outside of the holes?

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In my drawing, the top is 18" by 13½". In practice, I can enlarge it a bit, to 18 7/8" by 13 15/16" (800 x 339 mm if you prefer). I will do this - there's no reason not to. Making a free standing piece I can choose the dimensions and they don't have to be round numbers.

The ends need to be trimmed square. For this little amount, there was no need to saw the ends, I could just plane them. I knifed a line all round, then chiselled a chamfer. The chamfer prevents chipping or spelching at the edges and show how near you are to the line.

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This walnut does plane really nicely, even on end grain.

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Last edited by AndyT on 11 Jan 2018, 16:38, edited 1 time in total.
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By AndyT
#1193490
Having sort-of done the top, I now need to get the legs and aprons etc to size.
The wood that Custard gave me for the legs is lovely and straight, with the grain carefully selected to look good on all four sides of each leg. (This is explained in detail in the Popular Woodworking article I linked to in my first post.)
There is some slant to the grain as well, which I should be able to exploit when cutting the tapers - some of the tapered surfaces can follow the slanting grain.
That's easy to describe, but you wouldn't want to watch me shifting all the legs around into all the possible positions before deciding which way round to arrange each one... :roll:
(Including time to check that the tapering happens on the insides of the legs, not the outsides, and then rearrange them and mark them...)

Anyway, I ended up with a stack of four pieces

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They are over-long, so I cut some of the length off. I didn't cut to the finished length though - that will come after the joints and tapers are cut. This is the sort of job for which I like my trusty old Burgess bandsaw, so here's a posed shot of it having cut two legs to length.

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And then it was planing time. Not much for you to see, but these pieces are about 1 3/8" square and I want them to be 1 1/8" square. Being a careful sort of chap, I planed an eighth off each side, using a Stanley 5½ and finishing off with a 4½.

An hour or so later my bench was looking like this

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and then like this

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It's a bit frustrating that most of the fresh planing on two faces on each leg will be removed to make the taper, but I think this is the right way to go about it - make all the legs straight, square and matching, cut the mortices, then the tapers. The walnut is lovely stuff to plane - much nicer than softwood.
Did I mention the need to resharpen when the plane gets hard to push? I reckon once per leg is about right.

I'll do some more when I can find the time, and leave you with this for now.

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By Bm101
#1193529
In the middle of a loft extension here Andy, my beginners side projects down the shed don't get a look in and won't for some time. My brain is working on 4x2 and nail gun accuracy scales, tiling and celotex. What a fantastic timing that you've started this now then. It's shed by proxy. :wink:
I learn a huge amount on UKW from all sorts of different people and I'm thankful for all of them but I have to say I do enjoy a good read of your WIPs more than most. Sure I won't cause offence by that as I have no doubt it's a feeling shared by many. You have a great writing style, enjoyable to read, unforced yet enthused, modest but I realise a lot every time I read one. You shine a light on details that others often miss out. I look forward to seeing more as always.
Cheers fella.
Regards
Chris