Archive for May, 2012

Sawbuck Table Part 2: Half-lap joints

May 30, 2012

Now for the half-lap joints.

1.  Flatten and square the edges of the boards that will form the joint.  Here I’m removing the band saw marks using a block plane and a spokeshave.

2.  Check to ensure the area is square and flat.  A flashlight behind a straightedge does the trick.

If you can see light underneath your straightedge you have more work to do.

3.  Lay the two boards to be joined on to of one another.  Mark one side with a marking knife.  Shift the board over so it just barely covers the knife line, and then mark the other side.  If you don’t shift the board over you will be off by the thickness of the knife line (I wish I had pictures of this).  Pencil in the knife lines to make them more visible.

4.  Remove the waste (half the thickness of the board).  Here I use a drill press to remove the waste because the joint is not a 90 degree joint (I normally use a table saw with a miter gauge).

5.  Register a chisel in your knife line to clean up the sidewall.  Sight down the chisel to ensure it is vertical and chop out the waste.

6.  Check the fit.  It should be a little too tight.  Resit the temptation to hammer it into place.  Use a block plane to shave down the edges of the other board until it fits.

7.  Repeat the process with the other board.

Finished.  The layout marks in the picture are for the through mortise, which will be part 3.

After I finished the half-lap joints I had to get a preview.  The stretcher is resting on a bucket for now so I can see how it will look; it will get through-mortised into the legs in part 3.


Sawbuck Table Part 1

May 21, 2012

I’m building a sawbuck table similar to this one for some friends.  I start with a scaled drawing.

The purpose of the scaled drawing is to rough out the proportions.  It is almost like solving an equation: always start with your givens.  In this case your givens are 1) the height of the table using the widely used standard of approximately 29″, and 2) the length and width of the table top.  The length and width of the top was derived by taking a large piece of cardboard (representing the top) to the space where the table will be used, setting it upon a small table, and progressively trimming it until the dimensions looked right and fit the space requirements.

Next, start with your easiest decision first, in my case the thickness of the top.  3/4″ seemed right for this size table, but 3/4″ is such an overused dimension that I chose 13/16 just to be little different.  I used dividers to find the right porportion for the rail supporting the top.  First I tried twice the thickness of the top, but it looked too small.  Three times the thickness of the top looked just right.  Then on to the thickness of the legs.  Four times the thickness of the top looked good.

(Use dividers for this.  If you have never used dividers before; you are really missing out.  They help transfer dimensions, find the midpoint of objects, and figure your proportions.)

Then using pictures of sawbuck tables derived from a Google image search to help guide you, sketch in the curves on the legs.  The point of this is to just get the style down in your head; don’t worry about getting the drawing perfect.

Once you are happy with the scaled drawing; proceed to a full size drawing using plywood (I apologize for the poor picture).

Here you do want to get it as close to perfect as possible.  Don’t be afraid to deviate from your scaled drawing if it doesn’t translate well full size.  I changed the length of the rail.

The full size drawing is when I work out my joinery details; a floating tenon (shown below in dashed lines) will work great for joining the legs to the rail.

Using the full scale drawing as a guide, mill the lumber.  Jointing a leg . . .

. . . and trimming it on the tablesaw.

From the full size drawing I cut out a leg template and traced it on the leg stock . . .

. . . and cut it out on the bandsaw.  Repeat three more times and temporary clamp a couple together to see how it looks.