Furniture making school term 2

We are in week 7 of the second term so I should probably get round to writing something about it. The remit for the first project is to make a table or stand, preferably with a drawer, and a cabinet that sits on top.

My cabinet and stand borrows more than a bit from some James Krenov designs but as the build progresses it’s taking on more of a life or its own. Here’s a photo of the stand without as it is currently. I say currently because it’s going to change slightly.

It started with some bits of sliced up sweet chestnut tree from the wood yard:

I bought two wide slices of sweet chestnut tree and another off-cut, and an off-cut of sycamore. The two big slices I cut down the middle with a hand held circular saw and then cross cut each piece with reference to my cutting list. Figuring out the best way to get the various pieces out of the slabs of tree took a couple of hours and i’m sure many people would have taken far longer. I’ve certainly found it easier in the past when using square cut timber as you don’t have to account for so much waste. Another aspect to take into account is the grain and features of the wood although this is difficult to see as the wood in un-planed and generally quite dirty. I gave up on this as I couldn’t really tell how the planed and re-sawn timber would turn out grain-wise.

I made the legs of the base first. I made six of them in the end. The legs flare out from about a third of the way down but I started with square sections the size of the widest part i.e. the bottom of the leg. I laid out the joinery and cut mortises and sliding dovetail recesses. For the mortises I use the mortising machine which is not much more than a fancy drill press but it makes light work of mortising.

The tenons on the rails and stretchers I cut roughly with the band saw and then used my Veritas router plane to get them flat and square and down to width. Continually testing the tenon in its mortise is essential lest you go to far. I clean up the shoulders last so the finished surface doesn’t get damaged while I’m working on the cheeks.

Cock-up No. 1

The rail across the back was designed to be flush with the back of the leg. I cut the mortise so the rail would be flush but neglected to take into account that the the finished leg would be 10mm narrower at the top. Damn! The two back legs are scrap.

I’d already made one extra leg to try out the shaping so I used this and made another. I re-cut the mortises this time taking the shaping into account. The back rail had to drop down the leg as it would otherwise collide with the side rail that aligns with the inside of the legs so it can carry the drawer runner.

Shaping the legs

I marked out the rough shape of the flare on the square legs and cut off the bulk of the excess with the band saw. Keep some of the off cuts as they are handy when you want to secure the shaped leg in the vice. I finished the flare with plane and spokeshave. I then added a bevel on each outside corner. The bevels curve gently from top to bottom. Use a long bendy ruler to mark the curve. Get a friend or colleague to run a pencil along the ruler while you hold it in place. Don’t get to anal about the lines they are only a guide. Let the spokeshave flow.

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