Thoughts for my first wood project: side table design

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Dr Al

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TheTiddles":12ngm21o said:
I’ve just re-read your notes on attaching the top with dowels... I wouldn’t. Whilst you have minimised then shrinkage risk, it’s still there and as you’re doing a decent job of it, go the whole way and use buttons, if you have the biscuit cutter bit you can cut a couple of slots in the rails, make some buttons and you’re done, way better than just sitting it on dowels and another important furniture design/make feature ticked off

Aidan

Thanks for the advice. I hadn't even heard of buttons (although having googled them, I've seen the sort of thing before: just didn't know the name). That sounds like a good plan, although I might have a go at cutting individual slots by hand just for the practice. I'll see what I feel like when I get to that stage!

Have you any thoughts about the shelf? If I mount it in a rebate in the lower rail, is there a risk it'll expand and cause a problem? For that matter, if I don't mount it in a rebate, is there a risk that the bit that sticks out between the legs will expand and cause a problem?

Or am I just overthinking this and I should just mount it in a rebate as in the pictures earlier and attach it with buttons?
 

MikeG.

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Dr Al":14bwq7hq said:
.........Have you any thoughts about the shelf? If I mount it in a rebate in the lower rail, is there a risk it'll expand and cause a problem? For that matter, if I don't mount it in a rebate, is there a risk that the bit that sticks out between the legs will expand and cause a problem?

Or am I just overthinking this and I should just mount it in a rebate as in the pictures earlier and attach it with buttons?

I think mounting it in a rebate is a poor idea, and will led to problems as the wood moves. It also doesn't look great, and these are good reasons that you don't see shelves done this way. Mount the lower shelf in the same way as the top, on slimmer rails than you propose, and use buttons. Build in a gap around the legs, or just accept that they'll be pushed out of alignment a little if the shelf expands. I said all this previously, I think.
 

TheTiddles

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Like Mike says, I think it can work but you will need to leave a shadow gap all round, not much, just a couple of mm, however you need to get that dead on to look right, so sneak up on it with care, whether inset or overlaid, you still need that fit just perfect. With a solid shelf and your design I can’t see another way, however if you used slats instead of solid that problem vanishes and it catches less dust.

Aidan
 

Dr Al

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MikeG.":zgucvyzq said:
I think mounting it in a rebate is a poor idea, and will led to problems as the wood moves. It also doesn't look great, and these are good reasons that you don't see shelves done this way. Mount the lower shelf in the same way as the top, on slimmer rails than you propose, and use buttons. Build in a gap around the legs, or just accept that they'll be pushed out of alignment a little if the shelf expands. I said all this previously, I think.

TheTiddles":zgucvyzq said:
Like Mike says, I think it can work but you will need to leave a shadow gap all round, not much, just a couple of mm, however you need to get that dead on to look right, so sneak up on it with care, whether inset or overlaid, you still need that fit just perfect. With a solid shelf and your design I can’t see another way, however if you used slats instead of solid that problem vanishes and it catches less dust.

Aidan

Thanks for the feedback both. I've played around with the design a bit more, although I'm still not happy with the shelf at the moment.

I've reduced the rails from 19 × 44 mm to 19 × 30 mm; I'm not sure I'd want to make them any shallower than that. Here it is with the shelf hidden:

ModellingTableThinnedRailsWithoutShelf.jpg


I've also modelled the tenons (8 mm by 20 mm at the moment):

ModellingTableThinnedRailsShowingTenons.jpg


and added buttons to the table top:

ModellingTableThinnedRailsButtons.jpg


The buttons are spaced a couple of millimetres from the rails to allow in-out movement and the slots are four millimetres wider than the buttons to allow lateral movement.

I then had a go at playing with other shelf designs. I'd already ditched the rebate, so it was just a case of trying different shelf layouts (all of this assumes I'll consign the one I've already made to the future-projects pile!).

This is what it would look like with 80 mm wide slats with a 2 mm gap between each slat and the same between the slats and the legs:

ModellingTableThinnedRailsSplitShelf.jpg


It just looks a bit weird to me at the moment, but I'm not sure why! I tried having the slats either flush with the legs or the rails, but it looked a lot worse there. I also tried extending it out to the extent of the table top, but that looked really weird!

I don't think it makes a massive difference to the appearance (at least in CAD space) whether the slats have a gap or not, it's just the overall shape that doesn't seem quite right to me.

I might try moving the rails in towards the inner edge of the legs and then making the shelf flush with the legs, but I'm very open to other suggestions!

Thanks again
 

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MikeG.

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I would move the rails inboard, I think, and have the shelf overhang them, but still finish inside the outer line of the legs. You can lose one button from each rail and still have too many! :)
 

Dr Al

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MikeG.":1jm7u6az said:
I would move the rails inboard, I think, and have the shelf overhang them, but still finish inside the outer line of the legs. You can lose one button from each rail and still have too many! :)

Something like this?

ModellingTableRailsMovedIn.jpg


I've reduced it down to two buttons per edge. I can always tweak it down further (e.g. to two buttons on the longer edges and one on the shorter edges) when I actually make it.
 

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MikeG.

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Yeah, that looks better.

I think the idea of slats for the bottom shelf is to have proper gaps......20mm or something. Two mm looks like you've just made a mistake. Narrow slats (say 40/ 45mm) and gaps of 15 or 20mm and the appearance would be very different. I'm not sure I agree with the idea, but I certainly like slats more than a 2mm gap.

The buttons....I would do 2 on the long edges and one in the middle of the short. Frankly, it doesn't make a jot of difference. If you want to put 20 in for practise it would be fine. :D
 

TheTiddles

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See, looks much lighter now! The shelf does look heavy though, compare the with and without pictures. What are you intending to use it for? If it’s purely cosmetic, then it’s worth a chunk of effort to refine. If it’s just for the paper, I think slats would look better and be light, if it’s for a cat, just shoot the cat.

Aidan
 

MikeG.

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Have you tried drawing the top with the boards running the other way? It looks a little odd with the boards being parallel to the short edge, and the breadboard ends being on the long edges.

TheTiddles":3lw35dah said:
......... if it’s for a cat, just shoot the cat........

:lol: :lol: :lol: =D>
 

Dr Al

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MikeG.":3l6nykd1 said:
Yeah, that looks better.

I think the idea of slats for the bottom shelf is to have proper gaps......20mm or something. Two mm looks like you've just made a mistake. Narrow slats (say 40/ 45mm) and gaps of 15 or 20mm and the appearance would be very different. I'm not sure I agree with the idea, but I certainly like slats more than a 2mm gap.

I see what you mean about it looking like I made a mistake. I drew it up with narrower slats and bigger gaps and it looked a bit odd to me - more like a piece of garden furniture than a side table. I think I'll just close up the gaps and go with a solid panel.

NoGaps.jpg


TheTiddles":3l6nykd1 said:
See, looks much lighter now! The shelf does look heavy though, compare the with and without pictures. What are you intending to use it for? If it’s purely cosmetic, then it’s worth a chunk of effort to refine. If it’s just for the paper, I think slats would look better and be light, if it’s for a cat, just shoot the cat.

Aidan

I'm not really sure what to do about the shelf to be honest. It's small enough I could put it on my router jig and thin the whole thing down a bit (to 10 mm maybe). That would be really tedious though...

ThinnedShelf.jpg


MikeG.":3l6nykd1 said:
Have you tried drawing the top with the boards running the other way? It looks a little odd with the boards being parallel to the short edge, and the breadboard ends being on the long edges.

I haven't, but having already made the top, I don't think I want to change it now :?
 

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TheTiddles

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Do you even need the shelf?

You have the opportunity to make it with just the rails then add a shelf or slats later on when after you’ve done a dry assembly and sat it in place, you decide how to do it.

Aidan
 

Dr Al

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I think I probably do want a shelf, but for now I think I'll take your advice and put off the decision.

Made a little more progress this afternoon. I trimmed all the legs down to 40 × 40 mm and about 30 mm too long. I then marked out where all the mortises will go:

marked_up.jpg


After marking up with pencil, I went round with a marking gauge and turned the lines into cuts. I didn't bother taking a photo after that as it looked much the same.

I then started cutting my first mortise! I'd done a couple of practice goes on a bit of scrap so not strictly my first one, but the first one that it actually mattered where it went.

I started by cutting it with a 6 mm mortise chisel (the slots were intended to be 8 mm wide, 20 mm long and 15 mm deep, but more on that later...)

first_mortice_partial.jpg


I then got the 8 mm mortise chisel out and went to the line. I was doing very well (in my opinion based on almost zero experience) and then on one of the very last cuts I pushed the chisel the wrong way and rounded over one of the edges.

first_mortice.jpg


I don't think it matters as it'll be completely hidden, it just annoyed me!

It was as I put the leg in the vice to cut the second mortise that I realised a potential issue. When I'd originally started the design, the rails were on the outside edge of the inner faces of the legs. There was loads of clearance under the 15 mm deep mortises. During the conversations above, I moved the rails closer to the inside edge and now there isn't. I stupidly hadn't checked this in the model!

clash.jpg


As a result the two mortises join in the middle. I can reduce the length of the tenons so they don't clash; that's easily done. Hopefully it won't be a problem that the holes meet in the middle: I don't really want to discard all the legs (which have cut lines for the all the mortises).

Anyway, for now I'm carrying on regardless and I think I did a bit better on the second mortise (although it was actually a bit easier as it was open at the bottom).

second_mortice.jpg


All good experience anyway and that was a large part of the point of this project!
 

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AndyT

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Meeting in the middle is no big deal, often inevitable if maximising tenon length in small sections. You can mitre the ends or cut notches so one fits over the other, if you don't want to just shorten them.
 

Dr Al

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A bit more progress today. I cut all the tenons and tweaked them down to size with a chisel. I'm sure if I was better at such things I could try to cut them immediately to the right size, but I was more comfortable with the idea of paring them gradually down to be a good tight fit (and I'm doing this for fun and enjoy chisel-paring so the extra time is really not an issue).

tenons_cut.jpg


I then chamfered all of the tenons so that they will fit together in the legs:

tenons_chamfered.jpg


and did my first trial fit. The legs are still too long in this photo: I didn't want to cut the mortices with so little material above the slot, so I cut them too long, cut the mortices and they could then be trimmed down later.

trial_fit_2.jpg


I screwed a bit of wood to my cross-cut sled to help cut the tapers on two sides of each leg and cut them roughly to shape.

taper_cut_jig.jpg


I then cut the legs to length and then planed the tapers to give a nicer finish than the saw leaves.

tapers_and_tenons.jpg


Next job is to cut the slots for the buttons I think.
 

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Dr Al

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Slots for buttons chiselled out:

IMG_20200726_153152.jpg


and buttons made:

IMG_20200726_164019.jpg


The buttons got a bit burnt from me pushing them through the table saw a bit too slowly, so they need a bit of a clean-up of the top face and probably a slight chamfer all round.

It's starting to feel like it's coming together!

I think the next job (for another day) is to trim the top to size and likewise the shelf (I'm guessing a 2 mm gap around the legs is appropriate for expansion, but if anyone thinks differently, please do say!). Then I'll probably do another trial fit and see what it looks like with and without the shelf fitted and what I think it'll look like with a half-thickness shelf fitted.

Then lots of sanding, glue the frame together and probably lots of coats of boiled linseed oil.
 

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