MACHINING THE TOP AND FRAME
Using three two inch planks from Whitmores Timber John cut them to length and ran them through the ripsaw to regularise the width, once they were all the same width he could surface and edge them on the planer. This puts a good flat face on the timber which you can then work off to create a square edge, once he obtained a good face and edge using the thicknesser he reduced them down to 8″ x 1 1/4″. Using the spindle moulder he then machined a groove to take an end grain tongue. Using an end grain tongue reduces the risk of lateral movement and shrinkage which would open up the joints.
This was left to go off and he set about machining the parts for the table frame. Using the remaining planks he repeated the process of cross cut, ripping, surface and edging and thicknessing the timber.
Once the parts were machined John glued together the 4″ x 2″ sections to create 4″ x 4″ legs, (money saving tip for you there). Whilst the glue was curing he trimmed the ends of the top and grooved out to take another tongue, which would hold the end capping, this would ensure that the table top would stay flat and free from any cupping or twist.
SETTING OUT THE TABLE FRAME
With the timber for the table frame sections cured nicely he set about marking out the rails and legs using his combination square and marking/mortice gauge.
With clear markings John could then cut his mortise and tenons. (A mortice is a square hole and a tenon is the male part which fits into it – see below). This joint will hold the cross rail in position on the legs and create a strong joint to brace the table. Notice he has also allowed for a haunch on the cross rail, this gives the rail more resistance to twisting by allowing you to use the whole width as a tenon but also allowing you to keep the strength in the leg by only morticing through two thirds of the width of the rail.
He also cut bridle joints which would securely join the legs to the base and the top rail, using this jointing method is extremely effective as you aren’t relying on the strength of metal fixings or even glue when using dowels.
With these important joints cut and fitting nicely John could then mark out a jig for the mouldings, for this he used MDF which is easy to cut and sand. When the jig was finished he could then lay it out onto the rails and the feet and cut with the bandsaw, John could then free hand finish the shape using a block plane, chisel and sander. A bevel was then applied using a router with the ends finished with a sharp chisel.
When using wooden dowels you use a method where you offset the holes, this helps pull the joint tight, (this method used to be used in stair manufacture all the time). To do it, you mark and drill a plumb/square hole through your mortice, fit the tenon into the mortice and mark the tenon using a nail or a smaller drill bit on the joint side of the hole, you then remove the tenoned section and drill the hole to match the diameter of the dowel at the marked point. Now, fit the joint together and when you drive the dowel through it will pull the shoulder of the tenon in tighter in an attempt to line up the holes.
After sanding all the sections John used this method on all the bridle and mortice and tenon joints, he used a bit of glue for good measure. Whilst he waited for the glue to cure, he cut and shaped some brackets and carved out a message in the cross rail.
As next year marks John and Alison’s 40th wedding anniversary he carved out by hand the years on one side and their initials on the other, he then applied a lambs tongue mould with a router and sanded it smooth.
After a final sand the sections could be clamped together using sash cramps, John glued and dowelled this part also.
FIXING THE TOP
While the glue was curing on the frame, John sanded the table top and cut a radius on the corners, a pencil round (small round) was then applied using a router.
John then offered up the top and drilled some pilot holes into the top from underneath, drilling pilot holes is important when fixing into solid timber, it stops any splitting the screw might cause and it makes it easier to screw!! (TOP TIP – coat the thread in soap or candle wax to help, especially when screwing by hand.) John used brass screws to fix the top down as the acidity of the oak would corrode steel screws over time, he also fixed it through slotted holes, this allows the top to expand and contract during the change of seasons without pulling on screws in tight holes, the slot allows the screw to move freely with the movement in the timber but also keep it fixed down.
One final fine sand was carried out and the table was moved into one of the downstairs offices in Unit 4 where it was clean, John then applied an OSMO Polyx-Oil as recommended by the OSMO representative. Two coats of a thin wax oil was applied followed by a thicker harder wax oil which would give it a hard finish.
The table now sits in John and Alison’s log cabin in the lake district for all who visit to use and appreciate.
I hope you have found this insightful!