Saturday, July 20, 2013: What a great day!
I got my tabletop lumber first thing this morning. I chose my show sides carefully by turning, examining, turning again, rearranging, and then stepping back and saying “That’s my top.”
I marked the orientation and started joining the edges. Once this was done, I set up my clamps, glued the edges, and got everything lined up and square.
With the top set aside, I turned my attention to final scraping and sanding of all the pieces. This was about 2 hours of work, and after, I got ready to start gluing the legs. I have to admit I use a different marking system than Paul teaches. I use a traditional cabinet maker’s triangle, which is segmented on all of the parts. No matter what piece is picked up, the top, bottom, inside and outside are immediately discernible. I use this system through all of the joinery, and it isn’t until the final scraping and sanding that I go to Paul’s system.
Paul teaches labeling the inside of each joint and its mate with a number or letter. As I prepared for the final cleanup, I labeled the inside of each joint and then scraped and sanded all of my previous layout marks away. I then gathered enough clamps and my bench neighbor, John, so I could start gluing.
As I glued, assembled, and clamped, John stood ready to assist wherever needed. With the leg assemblies glued, it was time to move to the lower stretcher and upper aprons. All of the joints were checked and double checked for proper seating, and frame was checked for square, then everything was double, triple, and quadruple checked. Then I checked everything again, just to make sure.
With the undercarriage complete, I revisited the tabletop. It has been glued and clamped for a little over 4 hours now. I planed all of the outside edges straight and square, and then took a cabinet scraper to the entire surface. The cabinet scraper is such a wonderful tool and it left a beautiful surface.
This picture was taken after most of the clamps were stripped. The tabletop is not actually glued in place; these clamps were used to help hold everything square.
A turn button is used to hold the top in place. The turn button is a simple block of wood, with a small step, which is inserted into a small mortise on the inside of the apron. It is then screwed to the top, and this draws the top tight and flat to the apron.
I finished my coffee table and helped a few classmates make some progress on theirs. With the completion of this table, I feel confident about making other projects using this joinery. Similar tables, bigger tables, different designs; they’ll all use the 3 basic joints or some variation of it.
We cleaned up the shop and our bench space, organized our tools, and got ready for Monday morning. Monday is the start of a new project, a craftsman style rocking chair that will match our coffee table with perfection.