I really like frame and panels. For their size and weight they can make a piece of furniture incredibly strong, and they look nice too! The joinery used to make a frame is also one of my favorites, the humble mortise and tenon. While dovetails are the traditional mark of the skilled craftsman, I think mortise and tenons should be right up there with dovetails. Unfortunately, I think the M&T gets a bad rap because they are just as difficult to do as dovetails and yet, in most cases, will remain unseen.
After a brief foray into a coffee table project for my son, I come back to the pieces I have rough milled into parts for a liquor cabinet. A good feeling for how the wood is acclimating and how it might further move can be determined a week or two after the first rough dimensioning.
So, my son and granddaughter will be arriving soon and I’d really like to finish this coffee table in time for their arrival, not counting the oil finish, so I’ve put in a couple late nights and most of a weekend.
Wood is always surprising to me; when selecting the five boards for the top, one of them was a much lighter shade than the others, enough so that I asked my son if it would be alright to have this one piece down the middle (it was). By the time I had finished planing them to final dimensions, the difference was not so striking and, foreshadowing, once the oil finish was applied you couldn’t really tell the difference.
So this coffee table is coming along pretty well and I’ve made good progress the last few evenings. Every so often I’ll stop for a drink or to rest my feet (Someday, I’ll have a wooden floor to stand on. Or not.) and I’ll look ahead, thinking about the steps to come and if there is something that can be done easier now than later.
This goes without saying (therefore, we have to say it) however, there have been many times when I’ve thought that the next step was clear only to find out that something would have been easier done before the glue was applied.
So I wanted to make my son Alan a coffee table out of wicker but he declined….. (sorry, private joke 🙂 ). He did like the idea of using recycled barn wood like I just did with Bruce’s Trestle Table and I figured I had enough left without having to raid the pile of timbers again so we decided on a simple, common design such as this, but not quite as beefy:
There will also be a shallow drawer to hold some magazines, a laptop etc. This is a project I’m doing in parallel with the Liquor Cabinet as the wood for that one acclimates.
So, sparing you the details, it’s come about that I’ll be building a liquor cabinet for a colleague. Something that will hold 2 shelves of tallish (33-35cm high) bottles of spirits, a row of 8 bottles of wine and still have room for a drawer with about 14.5cm of usable space. Here is the front view sketched on graph paper (the only way I can draw a straight line without a ruler).
A small, relaxing project for those stressed at work…..
So I needed something fun that I could make in order to try out the venerable tapered mortise and tenon joint. That, and a chance to practice some basic turning skills.
Forewarning: this is more of a pictorial post with captions rather than a full-on article of “how I did it”.
As usual, this project is running late, but I’ve been promised that no IKEA table will be purchased in the interim 🙂 .
Now that the tabletop is fully glued-up, I double-check the position of each bolt hole to the threaded inserts and ensure that the holes are elongated to allow for wood movement during the year. Perhaps contrary to popular advice, once pine has dried and acclimated to its environment, it doesn’t move as much as hardwoods during the change in seasons.
I have already flattened the bottom faces of the tabletop assemblies and even though it may not be best practice, I want to flatten and smooth the top faces prior to the final glue-up. It will be easier for me to do this now and after the top is fully glued I’ll only have to flatten/smooth the center of the panel.
The key implements for this task are my #5 jack plane, #7 jointer plane and #4 smoothing plane.
a.k.a. Have a heapin’ mess o’ clamps and wet rags handy…..
Probably the single most teeth-grinding, face-sweating task in my experience is gluing up a large tabletop. It’s really a straightforward procedure however, I always stress about it and this one is no different. I have found though, that if I get everything prepared beforehand and do a complete dry fit, then I can reduce the number of feral whacks with a mini-sledge hammer necessary to achieve relative flatness.