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Cherry Coffee Table – Completed

September 24, 2022 1 comment

All of the parts are completed and the final steps are in sight. Clean up and sanding, installation of the top are all that is left.

Like most of my projects I intend to use shellac and finish with a coat or two of wax. It’s a very simple finish and easy to repair. Starting with the top I applied layer after layer of Shellac with intermittent sanding. I did do this table slightly different than prior projects. I have always used a brush to apply the finish and after looking at prior projects thought that a rubbed finish may eliminate some of the drips and problems. Taking an old T-shirt I carefully wiped on the layers and was very happy with the process and the finish. Interestingly, the same week there were some comments on the fine woodworking podcast that spoke exactly to the use of a pad versus a brush. Strange how these coincidences occur.

Once the top and base were finished I had to attach the top. Previously I had cut mortises in the rails so all I had to do was make the wooden brackets and attach them in with brass screws.

There are several fun lessons in this project and the curves in the legs and rails add an element of lightness to the appearance of the project. I really like the look of the chamfered top. The joinery is a challenge and when it is completed your skills have greatly improved, and who doesn’t like the look of a through tenon!

Categories: Cherry Coffee Table

Cherry Coffee Table Top

September 17, 2022 Leave a comment

The top was glued up a couple of weeks ago. While boards were sorted and selected for the various parts it was easy to dimension them while the tools were out.

The tabletop has always been the most stressful part of any project. It seems a simple task to prepare the rough stock, dimension the boards and ensure the edges are parallel and glue, but there is so much more to be considered.

I have some interesting table tops. There is the one that is a piece of Red Oak glued to a piece of White Oak, the one with grains that clash and the one that has boards of different shades. I continue to try and improve my work by paying attention to lumber choice and grain. It makes the finished product more pleasing to the eye. Once the stock was prepared I twisted and turned the boards until I was satisfied with the appearance and jointed the edges. As mentioned before I never unboxed my jointer after moving and all of the jointing is done with hand planes.

Once everything is ready a little glue, some clamps and we have a larger slab of wood,.

When I made the walnut side table I used a router to chamfer the edge which really changed the table appearance. I decided to make the top slightly bigger than my prior coffee table and to add the chamfered edge element on this table as well. I debated whether to make the chamfer by hand, but in the end chose a router. Almost routing on the wrong side, I flipped the top and made a careful pass around the edge.

As I was finishing the Walnut Coffee Table I really struggled with tear out. Finally finishing up with scrapers. Since Then I made a quick purchase knowing that I had more figured lumber to work, I’ll write. More about the plane in the future when I have a little more time and feel that my opinion is valid, I used my regular #4 and the high angle frog Lie Nielsen on this table top and was very happy with the result.

Some final sanding and it should be ready for finish.

Categories: Cherry Coffee Table

Cherry Coffee Table – The shelf

September 10, 2022 5 comments

The reason that I like to build this table is the shelf and through mortises. In the original project by Paul Sellers he talked about the amount of practice that the large number of mortise snd tenons provide. He is absolutely correct snd since doing the first piece I have no fear of this joint whether produced by hand or machine.

The shelf is a great opportunity to think about selection of wood and matching as much as possible. The pieces I select have all come from a single board. It is not as easily viewed as the top but it definitely draws the eye. Once the wood is selected the outer shelf rails must be fitted to the lower end rails. These are done with through mortise and tenons in the same fashion as the through mortises on the legs. This can be a challenging fit and my advice is to assemble the table and place the shelf side rails on top of the side rail for marking. This is most easily done with the table in clamps.

Once the rails were marked the tenons were cut to match the mortises (cut in a similar fashion to the previous blog). A few things to think about as you are doing this. The table needs to be clamped and all of the angles checked to make sure it is in its final position. I actually had to put a clamp diagonally across to make a slight adjustment. Exact marking and measurement will be essential. There are many joints to come and getting these four correct will make things much easier.

Once the tenons are cut, they must be fitted into the side rail. If all goes well you will end up with a tight joint.

Once the two outer rails are in place and the fits have been adjusted, lay out the remainder of the shelf pieces and mark them.

Maybe I’m unusual but I really enjoy matching all these parts and getting the fit perfect. Also its ok to make a mistake here, I actually ended up cutting a board short and had to make another.

Categories: Cherry Coffee Table

Cherry Coffee Table Shaping the Legs

September 3, 2022 Leave a comment

When I began woodworking, the thought of making a curve was very intimidating. Looking at a piece of furniture I found it difficult to envision how shapes were made and what tools are required. Thanks to the internet and classes from Paul Sellers, I realize that with a little practice most things are possible. The shaped legs are really a matter of using hand planes to cut to the desired shape or trim with a saw and shape with a plane.

The leg design has curves on the two inner sides leaving the outside edges flat. The result of this design is that layout has to be done for one side at a time, else you cut off the pencil marks. There are several ways to remove the waste, Chisel, Bandsaw, Saw. Previously as shown in the link I did this with a saw and chisel. It’s quick and efficient. Using Cherry I wasn’t sure if the technique would work as well and didn’t want to have a chisel dive out of the waste into the leg. So I opted to use a bandsaw to remove the majority of the waste and then a plane to smooth the leg.

The photograph shows the curve already on the left side of the leg and progress on the curve on the top of the leg. It’s amazing how much the color of the leg had changed in just a couple of days. Notice the top area where I am planing to the line vs the section on the lower part of the picture.

I also took the opportunity to chamfer the edges on the bottom of the leg to prevent tear out. Again this was done with a sharp hand plane.

Categories: Cherry Coffee Table

Removing woodworking dents.

August 28, 2022 Leave a comment

Dents, big or small, shallow or deep often befall a careless woodworker and I’ve been careless. As each leg was prepped, I noticed a dent on one side.

This wasn’t a small issue that a little sand paper would handle, but a large dent on the front face.

Grabbing an iron and a piece of an old t-shirt I proceeded to steam out as much of the dent as possible. In this case I was unable to remove it all but enough that a few plane strokes could take care of the rest.

Just informed that if I’m posting my wife’s iron on the web, I must give her credit for the tool.

Categories: Techniques

Shaping the Rails – Coffee Table

August 20, 2022 Leave a comment

The rails for this table have a couple of design elements that are straightforward to cut but a bit of a fiddle to sand. I took my time to avoid additional finishing work. The curves change the look and feel off the table and I added a couple pictures at the end of the blog showing the before and after pictures of the side rails.

Following all the normal steps for side rails, dimensioning, cutting and fitting tenons, I added value to the boards at each step. Woodworkers understand that the time to make a mistake is early in the process. Each step or change adds value (time and effort) to the piece and a mistake becomes more costly.

Next came marking the curved shape. In my secret stash of old patterns I kept the original coffee table pattern so I used it along with a straight edge to draw a pencil line.

The corner of the curve is simply a 7/8” hole. I made a little jig for my drill press and drilled from both sides to have a clean hole. Next the curve along the length was sawn at the band saw. There’s many other ways to do this and in my prior build I use and a saw and chisel to removed the wast and a spoke shave to clean up the curve. Both methods are quick and relatively easy. I don’t think there was much difference in the time to clean up the curve.

Cleaning up the edges is made easier with care in the drilling and layout, I used a spoke shave, scraper and sand paper wrapped around a dowel. Below is a picture showing the impact of the curves on the rails. I like both versions they just provide a different feeling. Next I’ll show the making of the shelf which is in the photograph above.

Categories: Cherry Coffee Table

Through Mortises by hand and Machine

August 13, 2022 2 comments

The mortiser is now accurate and producing straight mortise walls. That means its time to get out the chisel and mallet. I know of no mor e accurate way to cut a mortise than to do it by hand. The plans for this coffee table are to have through mortises for the shelf and side boards. I love the look of the through tenon and would not miss the chance to add them to a piece of furniture. Here’s an example from a previous project.

My plan for these tenons is to cut a shallow mortise on the face of the legs and then finish it by using the hollow chisel mortiser connecting through from the back. This gives me the advantage of a very accurate mortise where is shows and the speed of the machine where it doesn’t.

Layout is critical especially since all of the mortises I cut are connected to all of the other table components. If I make a cut incorrectly is will cause the table to finish twisted at best or not fit together and require recutting or remaking the parts.

The marking age that I typically use for this is from Veritas and I have come to trust its simplicity. I have use some of my older mortise gauges with little problem but i like using the Veritas gauge and circular cutters. Also I’m not paid for the tools I’m showing. I just find they work so I share them.

With all of the mortises laid out and the mortises on the show faces cut out by hand I turn the legs over and use the mortiser to remove the rest of the material. Some careful chisel work and the mortises arecut efficiently and accurately.

Categories: Cherry Coffee Table

Mortiser Adjustments

August 6, 2022 2 comments

It takes time to learn the tips and tricks of the tools we use and often if everything is operating correctly there is little need to explore manuals. When I acquired the Powermatic Mortiser last year, I spent some time cleaning it and browsing through the manual. The machine has performed well, until I noticed that it was not holding the longitudinal (best description I could come up with) setting and creeping as I made longer mortises.

My first instinct was to check the alignment of the drill bit, but it appeared to be correct. Next I compared the movement of both the lateral and longitudinal adjustment wheels and noticed a distinct difference. The longitudinal adjustment turned freely while the lateral was stiff.

It was clear that I needed to find a way of holding the adjustment and looked for a knob on the handle similar to those on table saws…not there. After a little thought, I discovered the gibs on the side of the table and then the wing nut.

Additionally I went back to the manual to see if there was any advice on how tight to set the gibs. Interestingly there is no mention of these adjustments and the although they are pointed out in the parts diagram and list, the purpose is not obvious.

I started writing this blog to share a little bit of information, however it has really made me come to realize that many of the tools and skills we acquire over time require a certain amount of basic knowledge of mechanics, a willingness to try and fail and access to information. Fortunately the internet can provide a great resource and if you are in luck there may be someone you follow or a neighbor that is willing to answer your questions.

Categories: Tools

Cherry Coffee Table – Prep

July 31, 2022 Leave a comment

Several months ago while picking up lumber for the Walnut Coffee table, I also purchased lumber for a cherry table. I’m glad I made the purchase at that time since prices have increased dramatically. My vision for the table changed at the last minute when I thought about how much I enjoined the joinery on the Paul Sellers table I made a few years ago. I used a similar shelf on the bar cart as well. I’m just a gluten for mortise and tenon joints.

When I purchased the lumber I had smaller legs in mind so was content with 8/4. Now I’m going to need to stretch it so that I can get 2 1/4 finished legs out of it. Several of you have noticed an increased use of power tools in the last year. I have always used power tools where it makes sense and hand tools where they are most effective or I get more joy. Most projects start with the break down of stock and I always reach for my hand saws. Today I grabbed the Bad Axe D8. It’s pure pleasure to use this saw. As I write this post I went back and realized that I have had this saw for five years and It seems that long enough to truly recommend it.

Since I am using rough lumber, I flattened one edge with my hand planes, in this case a Stanley #7. Then used the planer for the remainder of the dimensioning, I talked about the use of sleds in the planer rather than the jointer in a previous post.

In order to make the legs the correct dimensions I needed to glue a 1/2” strip before cutting the board into individual legs.

Now the hard part, which side faces out…….

Expensive Milli-second

June 21, 2022 3 comments

Often the worst part of a mistake is admitting it and the barrage of questions that follow. I’ve always believed that the only way to get better is to admit your mistakes, share them so others don’t make them and take your punishment. Today I packaged up my Forrest saw blade for repair and resharpening and purchased a new Sawstop cartridge, not due to a possible injury, but because I brought a tenoning jig too close to the blade.

A couple of changes since this event occurred. I have added a piece of plywood to the surface of my tenoning jig to move the cast iron further from the blade, I will in the future be cutting on the outside of the tenon not on the inside.

Categories: Tools