Saturday, December 22, 2018

American Trestle Table - Part II: The Parts

The slab for the table top was delivered, and it is stunning!
Sadly, this stunning slab doesn't look as good in photos as it does in real life.
I'll have to figure out how to photograph this table, because so far I haven't seen a picture that does this slab justice. It is just gorgeous. There is a lot of color and figure in it, including some curious dark pink streaks that I've never seen before. I bet over time those pink streaks turn brown, as all wood does eventually.

I showed the client the table top on a video call, and The Frau immediately talked her into leaving the slab it's full dimensions of 190cm x 80 cm, and out of my plan of making the base out of pine and painting it black.

Too bad, as the chosen wood of cherry complicates this build greatly. I'll now have to think about matching grain and color for the laminations. Fortunately, I have enough cherry laying around for this project.

It would have been nice to buy some thick cherry posts, but the lumberyard where that wood is available was closed for the holidays. I'll do my best with the cherry that I have. If it doesn't look as good as I think it should, I can still paint it.

In the meantime, let's get started. I had some fun rough dimensioning the lumber I'll use, and cut the center brace. I successfully tried sawing it out with the taper from the rough. I usually think of doing that after I had ripped the piece and four squared it. This was easier.
Sawing a tapered brace from the rough board.

It turned out nice, but the shop looks a bit dark, doesn't it?
I've been spoiled woodworking in Spain with all of the natural sunlight I get in the room where I woodwork. I finally got fed up with my botched lighting scheme, which was using some recycled spotlights from our living room.

I could get light where I needed it by turning the spotlights to where they were needed, but they were hot and less than ideal.
Don't mind the mess. Wouldn't you agree it's time for new lights?
I did a bit of research, and bought a set of four 120 cm long integrated LED shop lights from Amazon. They each are just 36 watts, 2800 lumen, and have a color temperature of 4500 K.

I couldn't find information on these (or any) shop lights as far as how they are wired, and if they could be wired from one to the next, or if they each needed their own circuit. I crossed my fingers, and they arrived just as I wanted: easy to wire and up to six of this model can be wired in series.
This should help.
More than 10,000 lumens should light up my 7.6 square meter shop nicely.

It is a terrible thing to get old.

I hung three of the lights on chains that I rigged. It works perfectly. They are on a diagonal angle over my bench. I did this to avoid as many shadows from direct lights that I could.
I lowered the lights from the ceiling by hanging them on these chains.
There's still a bit of neatening up to do with the wires, but overall I'm happy.
The idea is to put the last one on the ceiling behind the support beam to light up the back of the shop where my tool chest is.
Enough of that. Let's get back to woodworking. Since I'm now using cherry instead of pine, I needed to get back on track. The dimensioned wood for the base is all supposed to be 32mm thick, but some of the wood I have is 52mm, and the rest is 42mm. That's a lot of work with a scrub plane.

I decided to hit Peter up and I schlepped my wood over to Dictum to run it through their machines. In about 90 minutes I had it all ripped, jointed and planed to rough shape. I even was able to rip some legs in walnut for another side table intended for a future "honey do" project.
I'm not a purist. This saved about six months worth of work.

Finally, I am able to start some joinery. I cut the first half-mortise on one of the table's feet using my BadAxe carcass saw. I haven't used it much since I got it about five years ago (maybe more) because the very first cut I did with it (incidentally, a cut exactly like this one) I twisted the saw in the wood and thought I bent it. Turns out I just de-tensioned it, and Pedder was able to sort it out in short order. This saw is filed crosscut, and works great. However, I think if I was to do it again, I would get it in a hybrid cut instead.
My BadAxe carcass saw with the no-longer-available stainless steel spine and cherry handle.
I realized when doing this crosscut, that the overhead lighting is amazing, but I'm having trouble seeing my line on the side of the board. You can see in the picture above that the edge of the board is remarkably darker.

This gave me the idea to mount the last light on the cross support, rather than behind it. It still lights up my tool chest, but additionally throws some light on my bench from the side. I even mounted it with some wedges, to give it a little more of an angle at my bench.

There is even enough room to mount another of these lights, if I wish, right next to it so I could have light all along this cross support throwing light at the full length of my bench. We'll see.
Light #4. I brought it down here to give me some angled light on my bench.

It works brilliantly. I can now see my lines on both the face and edge of the board.
Can you tell I'm excited about my new lights?

After sawing my half-tenons, I bashed out the waste with a chisel, tried to get relatively close with the chisel, and finished up with my LN router plane.
This plane was born for this cut.
It worked great. I was a bot concerned about the glue up, as I've had problems in the past getting boards lined up and staying put when clamping. To help, I planed a small block to fit the length of the mortise to keep the mortise lined up during glue up.
glue up.
It worked great. This foot is in the clamps, and I have the other foot cut out and ready for glue up.
So far so good.
I don't have enough clamps for more than one of these glue ups at a time, so I'll glue up foot #2 in the morning, before we drive to the in-laws' for Christmas.

I'll get a bit more of this done after Christmas, but it's not looking like this project will get finished before I leave for Spain again on the second.

No biggie, this project is not under an urgent deadline. This table will get finished the next time I'm here.

What are your thoughts about using cherry laminations for this table? Do you think I'll have to paint it in the end, anyway?


  1. The color match of the two boards in the last picture looks very good. Hopefully after cleaning up the glue, the glue line will be almost invisible. BTW, great job on the LED fixtures - I got something similar a few years ago and they make a huge difference. But I still need a task light to see layout lines on the sides of the work.

    1. Hey Matt! Thanks for the comment. I was careful choosing pieces from the same board to laminate together, and I tried to make it so there wasn't pure flatsawn or quartersawn grain on the parts that will be seen. It's a little less important on the braces that the table top rests on: The boards I chose for those even have some sapwood, but I think it will work out just fine in the end.

      These LED fixtures are a gamechanger for my tiny shop. It is so much more pleasant to work down there, now. I tried these joints without the task light, and so far so good. We'll have to see if one would help or not.

  2. LED shop lights are amazing, especially for my aging eyes, but I still find that I need raking light for some things.

    1. Hey, Andy! I hear you, brother. It sucks getting old. The idea with the light on the cross beam was to get some raking light, and it works a little. Hopefully I'll get away without it.

  3. Hey Brian the table is looking really good. As for the laminations you could do like Gustav Stickley used to do. He would laminate legs and to ensure 1/4 sawn on all surfaces he would laminate a thin piece of 1/4 sawn material onto the sides of the legs that showed the laminations. I have done this on a few projects and it looks fantastic. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. Hey Ray! Merry Christmas to you and your family, too! I've done exactly what you suggest with the veneer on the table legs before. I'm not sure it would work in this case, as the feet are tapered, and there is some end-grain exposed. However, it's an idea I hadn't considered, and it gives me an idea, if my laminations don't look good enough.


  4. Looking good Brian! Thios will be the centre of the room and of your guests attention. Looking forward to see it finished

    1. Hej Ty! Thanks! I'm hopeful it turns out like I envision. If it does, I'm sure my client will be pleased.