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Thread: Handtool Project - Shaker Style Table

  1. #1
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    Default Handtool Project - Shaker Style Table

    This handtool challenge thing sounded interesting, but I felt like pursuing my own project. I decided to do one of those shaker-style tables (the 4 legged kind, not the turned candle stand).

    I started this last night. First thing was to select some stock. My wife scavenged a 3 foot hunk of 12" diameter walnut log 5 years ago. I used half of it for parts of a Windsor chair, and the other half spent 5 years being shuffled from one inconvenient spot to another in the garage. I have tripped over these for the last time.



    I use hand tools a lot (not exclusively, but I do more by hand than by machine...) and I know that I do not relish the idea of resawing this much wood by hand. If I was starting with rough sawn lumber this might not be such a problem, but this wood is 6 inches thick where I want to cut it. The alternative is to split off the stock I need. This is what Roy Underhill calls "the workmanship of risk". It's WAY faster to split the wood than to saw it. But you can never tell what surprises await you when splitting. Knots, wavy grain and such will deflect a split and ruin your stock. But when I compare the hours I would spend sawing with the minutes I would spend splitting it's no contest. So I took the froe and started whacking off planks.



    The first plank was a disaster. A small embedded knot and a bit of curving grain left me with a plank that would maybe give me a couple of aprons, but no stock for the table top. I split off a couple more and managed to get decent pieces (whew!).



    Then I took the hatchet and trimmed away as much waste as I could to get the plank reasonably flat and straight. Again, the use of a coarse tool is much faster, but riskier. I use hatchets all the time to trim or shape wood, so I don't consider this too much of a risk. Then I put the plank on the bench and started scrub planing to get it level and mostly flat.



    I switched to a jack plane and, using a straight-enough edge (I don't have a machinist's straight-edge, just a bar of aluminum that's straight enough for woodworking) and winding sticks, proceeded to finish the flattening job. By this time I knew which was the better face and I started putting face marks on the stock. All measurements are done from the face side and face edge. Here is a picture of the winding sticks in use.



    I didn't make the off side flat, just knocked enough humps off to let the plank lie on the bench without rocking. I usually end up with offsets on a panel glue-up so I figured I had to plane it all down anyways, so why do it twice? I crosscut the planks to 16 inches, and then squared up the edges. Glued and clamped, then set aside to dry.

    Time to work on some leg blanks. The first split I tried yielded one blank too big and one too small. That quarter of the log has some weird grain in it. I managed to get a second leg blank from the other quarter log, and one nice thick wide plank. The plank would make a pair of legs, but it was not big enough to safely split, so I had to saw it. Thankfully, it was only 2 inches thick and 2 feet long. I used a drawknife to roughly square up the two split legs. Next up is some serious planing to get the legs all about the same size.



    By now the table top could come out of the clamps. I took the scrub plane, jack, and jointer to the off side of the top to level it off, then started planing down the face side. There is a knot with a chunk of wood missing next to it. Ugly. Looks like I have a lot of planing to do to get rid of that divot...



    Tomorrow I should be able to square up the legs, and if I'm lucky I can split off some stock for aprons too.

    Darrell
    or maybe I will be so sore from today's work that I'll just lie on the couch and watch football all afternoon...
    Last edited by Lost in the Woods; 01-16-2009 at 09:37 PM.
    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

  2. #2
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    Default

    Thanks for posting the pics,

    I am interested in taking wood from rough to ready (sorry Mr. Cosman) and it is interesting to see the rough wood take shape.

    Never used winding sticks and still wonder how easy it is to remove any twist that is present.

    Robin
    "Hope is not a plan"

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin View Post
    Never used winding sticks and still wonder how easy it is to remove any twist that is present.
    It isn't that hard, and gets much easier with some practice. Taking out the twist can muck up other dimensions some, so I do it as early as possible (and try not to put some back in later....)

    My winding sticks are much much uglier...

  4. #4
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    Default winding sticks...

    Robin,

    as pmkierst says, "Taking out the twist can muck up other dimensions".

    It's something you have to practice. Use a straight-edge to find the high spots and plane them down. Use the winding sticks to detect twist, and plane down those high spots. But these two operations are usually at odds with each other. This is an iterative process, where you try to balance one against the other, and only experience will tell you how much to take off. Practice is what it takes. I've encountered some really recalcitrant boards, and every time you get the thing flat lengthwise, it has twist. I suspect at those times that the wood is moving as fast as I plane it.

    Darrell
    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

  5. #5
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    Default another day, another blister...

    I managed to find some time to mess with that walnut table today.

    First off, I planed two adjacent faces of each leg blank. This gave me a 90 degree corner for reference. I marked out the rough size of the legs from this corner using a pencil gage (marking gage with a pencil in it). I aimed for 1 1/2 inch, but would settle for 1 1/4 inch. In the end it came out to 1 3/8 which is fine for this little table. I used a drawknife to get close to the gaged lines.



    After drawknifing close to the lines, I used a jack plane to take it the rest of the way. In order to get rid of some of the worst divots I had to plane the stock down to 1 3/8. There are still some imperfections in some of the legs, so I might end up with 1 1/4 anyways.



    Then I split out some 12 inch blanks for aprons. I had my son help me to hold the legs and top tohether to see what kind of overhang would look good. Then I measured for the finished apron length. 9 1/2 inches looks good.



    I spent five minutes or so roughly squaring up the apron blanks with the drawknife. Just enough to make it easier to plane them, and to get an idea of which face is best. Most of this wood is nearly quartersawn as it was split from the center of the tree outwards, so both faces should be pretty good.



    I'll be busy with other stuff the next couple of evenings. Next step is to get the aprons to finished size I guess. And then it's joinery time!

    Darrell
    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

  6. #6

    Default

    That is looking really great. It is really nice to see someone truly working from "rough"; it must also be very nice to be working from riven stock. I use a froe to split out some turning blanks (usually from firewood), but have never had the opportunity to work flat stuff from the log. I'd love to work up the hatchet skills, etc.

    Look forward to seeing more.

  7. #7
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    Default progress report...

    Hi all,

    Just a quick note to say that I have been working away on that walnut table, in what little spare time I have between Work, Sleep, and Kids. I've been taking pictures along the way and I will post them when I get a chance.

    Darrell
    legs & apron are mostly done, top still needs work...
    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

  8. #8

    Default

    The hatchet in the first pic looks a lot like my TrueTemper TB2 broadaxe (16th birthday present). Mine also has an "aftermarket" handle on it. :lol:

  9. #9
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    In the last episode, our hero had managed to salvage 4 leg blanks from the wreckage of his walnut log...

    Most of this I did on Tuesday night, with maybe half an hour's worth on Sunday & Monday.

    I took the smallest of the roughly shaped aprons and trued up the best face and edge. These were marked as the references surfaces. I gaged the biggest width I could get out of the blank and planed to the line. The apron ended up 2 1/8 inches high. I planed the reference faces on the other aprons and then ripped and planed them to width as well.

    I trimmed the apron blanks square on one end. The stock of the square should always go against one of those reference faces I was talking about. The off sides are not necessarily square to the other faces. I cut close to the line with a handsaw and finished the end using my miniature mitre trimmer from LV. Then I marked and cut the aprons to final length (10 inches).



    Now that the aprons and legs were down to final dimension it's time for some joinery! First real problem: one of the leg blanks (not split radially from the log!) has gone seriously out of square. You'd think that after 5 years the wood might be sort of dry, but no, it moves like crazy. Now the end I had designated as the top is a rhombus instead of a square in cross section. This is what I call "Not Good". Other people have other words to describe this, but most of them are best left unsaid in this forum.

    What to do? Well, I checked the other end for square and lo, it was nearly square! I planed it a wee bit to true up the best corner and redid my reference marks. When I taper the leg most of the rhomboidiness (?) will be gone.

    Where was I? Oh yes, joinery. I got out all the gages and set them up for marking out the M&T joints. I set the mortise gages to the width of my mortising machine chisel (1/4 inch nominal). I use one gage to layout the tenon and one to layout the mortises. They are set to different offsets to produce a nice corner reveal at the leg joint. Sure I could just adjust one gage for the two measurements but I have two gages, so I use'em. Also set marking gages for the start and end of the mortise on the legs.



    I laid everything out and marked the waste on the tenons. Sounds kind of superfluous I know, but it's easier to put a few extra marks on the work than it is to go back and make a replacement part after screwing up a cut. DAMHIKT. Notice that the off side of the apron is really rough. I can just imagine the Wood Machinists running screaming from the room when they see this. They will ask "How can you get accurate joints if the stock is not accurately dimensioned?". Ah, but my stock IS accurately dimensioned. Since all my layout is made from the reference faces, it will fit perfectly. Wait and see...



    The first apron had a small knot near the end, so I sawed off the waste. The rest of them were split off. Since my stock was riven, the grain should be straight along the length of the piece. I was a bit cautious about the first few splits. I kept off the line a wee bit at first, but as I went along I found that I could put the chisel right in the mark and whack the waste off in one go. The very last split went bad on me and I had to glue a shim onto the tenon cheek. In the end adding the shim was a lot less trouble that sawing all those tenons.



    Time to mortise the legs! I loaded the 1/4 inch chisel in my foot-powered mortiser, set the fence so that the chisel fell between the gaged lines, and set to work. This ain't one of those hollow chisel mortisers, nope, I have a *solid* chisel mortiser. The machine is intended for sash work in softwoods, but walnut works just fine. I've tried ash before and it doesn't cut it (pun intended). This is one of the most fun tools in my shop.



    The tenons will interfere with each other where the mortises intersect, so I had to bevel the ends of the tenons. Once again, I used that little mitre trimmer. Another fun tool!

    Last thing I did was to lay out the tapers on the legs. I just used a yardstick and a pencil to draw the lines. By now it was late and I had to go saw some logs...

    Darrell
    tired but more good stuff coming soon!
    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

  10. #10

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    Wow! Thanks very very much for the pics and report; I, for one, am really enjoying them.

    At an inch/year minimum drying rate, it may not be entirely surprising that the wood still has a bit of moisture. But even outside of that, I am not surprised. I have wood here that is only 4/4, and it still moves some after 7 years (though noticeably less year to year except for the odd piece which is just vicious). And there is still trapped stresses, even outside of moisture, though you can usually see those right off the saw (especially if they jam the saw....)

    Q: How do you find the miter trimmer for those size pieces (clearly for very thin shavings)? Is the finish quality good enough to forgo a plane? They always intrigue me, although I admit the big floor mounted beasts intrigue me even more...

    Somewhere down the road, if you get time, some closeups of that mortiser and its operation would be really cool.
    Paul Kierstead

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darrell View Post
    Time to mortise the legs! I loaded the 1/4 inch chisel in my foot-powered mortiser, set the fence so that the chisel fell between the gaged lines, and set to work. This ain't one of those hollow chisel mortisers, nope, I have a *solid* chisel mortiser. The machine is intended for sash work in softwoods, but walnut works just fine. I've tried ash before and it doesn't cut it (pun intended). This is one of the most fun tools in my shop.
    I'm trying to wrap my head around this machine. From what I gather this is essentially a foot-activated arbor press with a mortise chisel mounted in it? So you just bore a hole to start, and then you nibble away at the mortise with the chisel? The chisel, presumably, can be turned so that it can nibble to the right or to the left?
    Mike in Orangeville, ON
    http://ifonlyyouwood.blogspot.com/

    SPCHT

  12. #12
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    Default sitting here watching paint dry...

    Watching shellac dry, actually. Yes, the finishing has begun! More about that later...

    Where was I? Mortising machine, right, Mike asked about that. You've pretty much got it Mike. When you step down on the pedal, the chisel is driven into the wood. With a narrow 1/4 inch mortise, I don't need any starter holes. Just march back and forth (you're right, the chisel flips from one side to the other) three or four times and it's done. Except for prying out the chips. I use a screwdriver and a swan-necked chisel to clean out the mortise. In white pine I can go through a 6/4 rail in two passes with the 1/4 chisel. Lots of leverage there! Anyhow, back to our saga...

    Wednesday Night:

    A couple of the tenon shoulders needed trimming, so I took my shoulder plane to them. This plane is a kit from Hoosier tools (back in '99 IIRC). Steel with ebony infill. Another imperfect tool, but it sure does a nice job of trimming joints. Shoulder planes are fairly expensive and I would never have bought one (being a bottom feeder) but once I built this kit and found out how well it works... I'll just say "Go and get a shoulder plane".



    I recut that messed up tenon and beveled it like the others. Time for a dry fit now... It isn't the best job I've ever done, but it does look like a table now. Get a load of the pile-o-shavings back there.



    I hauled out the shaving pony again and started tapering the legs. This was more drawknife work. Takes about a minute to get close to the line with the drawknife. The put the leg on the vise and use a jointer plane to finish the tapers off down to the line.

    What's left? The top need some work. I planed the edges true with my jointer plane. The end grain was quite a workout. Then on to the top surface. I made a few passes with various planes in different directions, trying to find something that would take it down in thickness but avoid tearing out around the knots. This didn't work too well. I really need to sharpen some of my planes. I have taken on much gnarlier wood than this without problems. I also tried a couple of scrapers. The big scraping plane worked OK except that the big knot is so hard it chipped the cutter (?!?!) The best tool I found was a plain old card scraper.

    I noticed that there are a couple of new checks in the top too. This does not bode well. You would think that 5 years of air drying would count for something, but nooooo, the wood behaves like it was cut yesterday. Feh. Oh well, it's only supposed to be a Horizontal Surface, not a Work Of Art.

    The top is about 7/8 inch thick, which is simply too much for this small a table. Well, I could either plane and plane and plane to try and knock off 1/4 inch or simply bevel the lower edge. Out with the marking gage again and lay out a 1/4 by 2 inch bevel on the bottom of the table top. I did the bulk of the work with a jack plane, followed by the jointer, and a bit of work with a card scraper on the nasty bits around the knots.



    At this point it was getting late and I packed it in for the night. Time for a piece of Kathy's rhubarb pie before bed :^)

    Darrell
    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

  13. #13
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    Default done like dinner

    One last post here to finish things off.

    Thursday night I started the assembling the table. I first had to choose how to attach the top. I could make some wooden clips (got lots of scraps left from the log) but decided to just open the baggie of metal clips instead. That's what they're there for. I used a 1/8 inch mortise chisel to cut small slots in the aprons. I've never really used that chisel before, except for trimming in tight spots. It does a great job cutting these slots.

    I got out a band clamp and set it to the approximate size of the table undercarriage. Got the glue & brush out, and rehearsed my moves. There's not a lot of open time so it all has to go together quickly. Ready, set, GO! Glue goes on, frame goes together, clamp it up. Uh Oh. The dry fit went together better than this. One of the tenon shoulders won't close up. Maybe I could force it, but I might break something if I did. I just tightened the band clamp down real good and let it be.

    Whilst the glue was drying, I slapped a coat of amber shellac on the top. Generally I put two coats on with the brush, then use sandpaper or steel wool to smooth and level the finish. After that a couple of wiped on coats will complete the job.

    Friday night I cleaned up the little bit of glue squeeze-out and finished the first two coats on all the parts. Nothing exciting here.

    This morning I assembled the table and took one more picture. The finish has to harden for a couple of days before I rub it out and wipe on the final coats, but this is pretty much what it will look like.

    Before:


    After:

    (Eeww. Sorry about the horrid photography. I might try again after the finishing is done)

    I'll be at the Hamilton Wood Show next Saturday, hanging out at the Halton Furniture Makers booth. I will bring this table with me, so that those of you who make it to the show can drop by and see it up close and personal-like.

    Hope to see a few of you there.

    Darrell

    ... and so our hero, the craggy features of his weatherbeaten face lit by the fitful glow of the burning wreckage, rides slowly into the sunset... The End.
    Cue music. Fade to black. Roll credits.
    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

  14. #14

    Default Darrell, a great project!

    I am delighted to see there are still good craftsmen who are not deterred by manual labour I know this sounds a little odd but dammit man that is the way woodworking should be done
    With the foot powered mortiser and foot powered lathe you must have legs loke tree trunks
    A point of criticism. Why cut tenons first? It is the normal practice to cut the motice first and then cut the tenon to fit. It saves going back and re-trimming the tenon after or the worst scenario is the tenons are too small and now need shims.
    Excellent project. Anyone else ready to take up the challenge?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete in Welland View Post
    I am delighted to see there are still good craftsmen who are not deterred by manual labour

    I think the most amazing part of this is simply that it was done. I know that in my case I buy tools, think about tools, and think about how I would use my tools, but actually, I mean, picking them up and _doing_ something with them? That's a rarity!

    So major kudos to Darrel. For sure.
    Mike in Orangeville, ON
    http://ifonlyyouwood.blogspot.com/

    SPCHT

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete in Welland View Post
    Why cut tenons first? It is the normal practice to cut the motice first and then cut the tenon to fit.
    Hi Pete,

    If I was boring and paring a mortise (mortice) then I would surely do the mortises first, because I can never get an accurate size using that method. But I have found that when a mortise is chopped (either with the machine or a mortising chisel) it will always come out the proper width. Since I set my gage to the chisel width, the tenon layout is spot on. If I cut to the line it will fit. And they all did, except that one where there was some diving grain. If I had sawed that one it would have fit just fine.

    When I do more "serious" pieces of furniture I do follow the standard practice of mortise first. In this case I was already running so many risks in my methods it made little difference how I cut the M&T ;^)

    Darrell
    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darrell View Post

    ...This morning I assembled the table and took one more picture. The finish has to harden for a couple of days before I rub it out and wipe on the final coats, but this is pretty much what it will look like.

    Before:


    After:

    (Eeww. Sorry about the horrid photography. I might try again after the finishing is done)
    Amazing Darrell. In the time it would take me to hum and haw about a project design, materials, tools to use etc...you start and finish one. From a log no less! Well done Darrell. You truly are my GO Train hero!

    See you early tomorrow morning...:(

    Regards,

    Ed

  18. #18
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    Default one last picture...

    So I waited (for what seemed like forever...) for the shellac to harden up so I could get rid of some of the worst of the brush marks and wipe on a finish coat.

    I wasn't too picky about the finish, as the table is full of flaws already. Another won't hurt, eh. So here it is in all it's glory. Hey, what's this? No link to add pix to the posting?!? Hmph. I guess I overdid the picture thing already. Well, we will see about that...

    Name:  walnut_20.jpg
Views: 1421
Size:  18.7 KB



    Ha ha!! It worked. Oh, and whilst I will not be at the Hamilton Wood show as planned, the table will. Stop in and say hello to my table at the Halton Furniture Makers booth (and maybe say hello to the HFMS guys too ;^)

    Darrell
    Last edited by Brent in Montreal; 01-24-2008 at 09:18 PM. Reason: To host pic to CWW
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