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Table Project 3 - Making The Stretchers

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In this instalment I will be going though making the stretchers. This is probably the easiest part of the project, but they are critical to the final look. To start off, I got my walnut that was for this project, which was left over from my nightstands and started planing. The wood was fairly straight so planing was very fast, using procedures mentioned earlier on stock preperation. Once the stock was prepared, It was time to make my face edge, this edge is a prefect ninety and flat to the face, which is my reference edge. I cut this with my jointer plane (shown above), checking with my square alone the whole edge of the board, and with a straight edge, making the edge prefect. Once this was accomplished, marking the width of the stretchers is the next step. Using a marking gauge, I marked my first piece. Then it was time to move over to the saw bench and make my cuts (below). Using my rip saw, I cut close to the line then left the final planing till all the parts were cut.

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To make the remaining parts, I simply repeated the procedures, starting with making a new face edge, and marking and cutting. Once they were all cut, I planed the cut edged down the to scribed line, and comparing the parts to make sure they are all the same. 

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Next it was on to making the ends square, and to length. I usually leave my parts a inch longer then the final length. When selecting where to make my cuts to the final length, I look at several factors. First is damage, Sometimes there might be some areas that were damaged on the ends of the wood. Second, the condition of the wood, is there and cracking or other things you need to get rid of? I usually cut any of this off first, but some times the piece isn’t much longer then needed, and its easier to cut it after. Finally, I look at the grain and see how it will look when it is with the other parts. Once I make these decisions, the first end will be cut and planed square with a shooting board. Now I determine the final length of the parts. My table is going to be shorter in length then the one in the plan, so I made adjustments to the length of the long stretchers. Once the length was determined, I marked the line off the face edge, and with my square and knife, I marked my line (above right). After marking and cutting the boards with my carcass saw, I went on to the shooting board to make the end square (below). 

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After the first board for each side is done, make the second boards the same exact length as the first. To do this, I line of the boards ends together, then using a knife I mark the length. To keep the ends level while marking I place a plane or other flat surface against the first ends cut (right). Then I cut and shoot the board to final length, and double check it against the first board.

Now all the stretchers are prepared and ready for drilling the dowel holes and rounding over the edges, which will be the subject of the next posting! Thanks!


Table Project 2 - Cutting and Shaping The Legs

This entry will be showing how to cut and shape the table legs. A variety of tools was used in this part of the project, which is a great opportunity to use tools that  don’t get to used often. It gives more experience in using them, which keeps your skills sharpened. To start, the plans for the project included a leg template. You have to copy the image and enlarge it on a photocopier. After the template was ready, the legs were laid out on the stock that had been prepared in the last entry. Simply trace the template out with a pencil (below). 

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Next, it was time to cut the legs. To cut them, I took the chance to use the bow saw I recently built using the Gramercy Tools Bow Saw Kit. Ive never really liked the coping saw I have, so I was looking forward to trying this saw. As with anything, there as a learning curve to using the saw. Knowing this, I didn’t cut right near the line. The final shaping was done with a drawknife, rasp, and a few spokeshaves (shown below with the cut legs).

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I started with the drawknife (left). This is a tool that I don’t use as often as I would like. It really makes fast work of cutting. I like to use a variety of different cuts when using a drawknife. Sometimes as a plane, bevel down. Sometimes skewed, bevel up. You have to learn what works for you and on the particular wood you’re working on. The one thing that really helps, as always, is keeping the tool sharp. Next, the rasp was used to round out some areas, this works fast, but leaves a rough surface. The final cutting was done with a spokeshave. I need a convex sole shave for the rounded inside corners, and a flat sole for the other areas. I then preceded to cut to the line. As you approach the line it is important to check to see that the edges are square to the face. Once all four legs were prepared in this manner, I compared them, and picked one to be my template leg. I then clamped the template leg and each other leg together and shaved each one to match the template leg, giving me a set of four matching legs (above). Now that the legs were ready I squared and cut the bottom and top of the legs. I accomplished this by using my framing square (below). 

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Now that things are squared up, I marked and cut a round over on the corners of the leg. This would normally be done with a router bit, but not using such tools I came up with a different method. I wanted a quarter inch round over. So, using a compass, I set it to mark an eighth of an inch, and marked this in from each edge (below). 

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The round over was then cut with my spokeshaves, using the marked line as a baseline. The finished legs are pictured on the left.

Next posting I will be making the rails for the table and drilling the holes for the dowels. 


Table Project 1 - Starting the Table

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I’m back in the workshop finally after slowing down on jobs around the house and am read to get started on the coffee table I’ve been wanting to build. It has been a while that I’ve have a chance to get some woodworking in, so it is nice to get back in there. I started off looking at the cut list and what walnut I’ve had kicking around the shop. This project doesn’t require a lot of wood, so finding enough was easy. After stock selection, mark your boards, and cut them to approximate length. You want to leave them a little longer then the final length, which I cut and square after. After the boards are cut to rough length (left), it is time to plane the boards smooth. The boards I’ve been using are square 2 sides, so they are a little rough still. 

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I decided to tackle the legs first. The project in the book is described using power tools. I don’t use power tools on my furniture projects, so I’ll have to apply my own skills and knowledge to build it. There are much more complicated pieces built with hand tools only so this one should easy. You should be able to build almost anything with hand tools that you can with power tools. So I started by planing the leg stock. First you should check the board for high spots, twists and cupping. Use straight edges (below), squares and winding sticks for checking this. After marking such areas, I pull out my low angle jack plane with a cambered iron (above right). This makes fast work of wood removal. I start by going across the grain, working on any high spots and twists. You can really remove a lot of stock fast with this method, so check your progress often. As I progress, I run the plane at other angles as well, going in diagonals, with the grain, then back across. This further flattens the surface, and preps it for the next plane, the jointer.

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The Jointer plane is the longest of the common bench planes. I primarily use it for final flattening of boards, and edge work. I use my Stanley #7 that I restored as seen here. I’ve been using this plane for several years now, and love using it. While using this plane I go with the grain primary. This board wasn’t too bad to work with and I did as much planing as I could with my jack plane. You want try to use the jack plane as much as possible, its edge doesn’t require as much sharpening as a jointer, so it saves time. After the jointer plane, move on to the smoothing plane. Use this for final smoothing of the board (below). 

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After smoothing I did a quick run down on my edges with my jointer and marked my thickness with a marking gauge. Normally I would square a long edge to the face first, but in this case the legs don’t require a square edge, so I just smoothed it a bit to see the line I cut with my marking gauge. I then repeated the smoothing process described about down to my marked line. 

This completes my prep of the boards for the legs. Next, I will be cutting out and shaping the legs. I have also procured some birds eye maple for the top which should make for a stunning top for this table.

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Above, jointer plane on the reverse side of the board. 

© Shane Larson 2017