Nothing but Mortises

Tuesday, July 16, 2013: There is more to these tool chest drawers than I ever imagined. That being said, I do have one of them complete, but not glued. I think I mentioned the front and sides are joined with half lap dovetails. The back is held in place by a wedged tennon, inside a housing dado. It would be virtually impossible to get this drawer apart once it is glued.

For the coffee table, it was mortise and tennons all day. Most of the day was chopping mortises with further refinement of our skills. A horizontal foot has 3 columns centered on it, with mortise and tennons that meets the underside of the short apron, also with mortise and tennons. The center column is wider than the 2 outers, and the outers are shaped with a gentle curve. We will delve into the shaping later.

During the day, we got a lesson on the importance of tennon shoulders, and the difference between and full tennon and a bare tennon. I’m not going into the details here, but a full tennon, which requires more skill, provides a higher degree of refinement.

The highlight of my day was when Paul did a demonstration on sticking a molding, inlay, then making a dovetailed miter. Regular miter joints, which aren’t really joints, have no independent strength. The only strength comes from a mechanical fastener. Paul demonstrated how to strengthen the joint with a dovetailed spline that took 30 seconds complete, and adds a tremendous amount of strength.

At the end of the day, a reporter from the local paper came by to take pictures and interview us. She is writing an article titled “Back to Basics,” which will run a week from Saturday.

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