Saturday, March 30, 2019

American Trestle Table - Part VIII - Tusk Wedges

Short version: I made a couple of flat sticks prettier!
Completed wedges.
Long version:  While I'm in Spain and the table is in Germany, I can make some wedges for the tusk tenons that will hold the connecting trestle securely.

The tenon on the trestle is about 3/4", so the wedge should be about 1/3 of that. 1/4", however, seems pretty flimsy for this stout table. Therefore I pulled out a piece of ebony from my stash that finishes out to about 3/8". I think this will be just fine in the end. If not, I'll just plane them down a bit more when I fit them.
Hunk of 3/8" ebony from my stash.
I think if I had thought this out ahead of time, I would have made the mortises a bit wider to take a beefier tenon. I think a 3/8" wedge would do better in a tenon that is around 1 1/8" thick.

Too late now.

It should be fine in the end. If not, I can always cut off the tusks and mount the tenon in the mortise permanently like Christopher Schwarz did in his article.

I started by smoothing out the bandsawn surface on the ebony I chose for the first wedge. It turns out it was a bit figured, and very difficult to plane. I got there in the end.

At first, I was going to try to get two wedges from this one stick, but decided not to be stingy. I had some more of this thickness of ebony, so I pulled out another one, and cross cut it to length.

This time, I smoothed an edge, and drew out the final angle of the wedge on the rough face, and ripped it to final shape. This made smoothing it a bit easier, because there was less material to work with.
The second blank on top of the first.
After smoothing out the second blank, I realized it has a lot more blond wood in it than the first. I have another piece which matches this one, so let's get it out and look...
The third blank, with a nasty hork in the middle.
This one has a nasty dent in the middle, which I could not avoid. Instead, I lined up the first wedge, which is about 7 1/2" long, and put that defect right in the middle. It will be buried in the tenon, so will never be seen.

After crosscutting it where I wanted, I marked the wedge shape from the first one one the rough surface again. The shape is about one inch rise in 12 inches of length.
Ripping the wedge shape on the rough blank.
After the edges were smoothed out, I smoothed the faces.
Artsy smooth planing photography. - With my phone.
After all that, I have two very nice looking, unique wedge blanks. This wood should look really cool with the cherry table.
Getting there. I even put some wax on one side to see what it will look like.
I had considered making some angular designs to match the feet of the table, but in the end I decided strength was needed where it will be whacked with who-knows-what kind of hammer when it is set. I settled on a rather plain looking roundover, which should look perfectly fine with this table.
10 ct. for the toe, a whole Euro for the heel!
I drew a profile using coins as a template, then I used my paring chisel to remove most of the waste.
Paring was quicker than sawing.
I then clamped the two pieces together, and finished the roundover shape with a rasp, a file and then through the sandpaper grits to 320.
Starting the roundover shape with a rasp.

Finishing it with sandpaper.
One makes do with whatever workholding is available. This worked fine.
After this, all I did was gently break the arises with sandpaper, and slather on some of my famous Mediterranean Sea Water Sun Bleached wax blend.

I think they will look nice.
Glamour shot.
Next time I'm in Germany, I'll fit these bad boys to the trestle.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI 
Part VII

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

American Trestle Table - Part VII - The Trestle Joinery

Once I got the trestle flat, square and smooth, it was an easy matter to lay out some tenons and start cutting. I decided to make the tenon stick out 4" from the outside of the leg, so including the 2 1/2" for the leg, the tenon needs to be 6 1/2" long.
Looks like a good job for my big-honking BadAxe tenon saw.

One side done on both faces of the tenon.
It was clear once I flipped the board and started cutting the other side, that my tenon saw isn't 6 1/2" deep.
That's as deep as I can get.
A back-less saw is in order. The perfect saw would have been my Ryoba Dick saw, but that saw is in Spain. A pity, since it has such a narrow kerf. I pulled out the finest rip saw that I have, which is something like 12 PPI to finish the job.
This one gets deeper.
That took forever, so I think I wound up finishing the cut with my 5 PPI ripsaw, which worked great. However, The one face of that tenon was pretty ugly. Sadly I didn't take a picture of it, but it looks like my line got off a bit about half way down and the saw bent a little to the inside of the board.

The damage is still a little visible, so I need to decide how best to fix it next time I'm back. I could just plane it down, making the tenon much narrower than the mortise, which would show, I could plane that down and put a patch (I have the cutoff which would match the grain nicely) on either the tenon or inside the mortise. I also could cut an inch or two off of the end and make everything a bit shorter. I'm sure it would still look just fine. Perhaps I should just leave it.

On with the rest of the joints.

My crosscut saw and shoulder plane made quick work of sawing the cheeks off all together.
Cutting the tenon cheeks.
After this, I removed the top half of the tenon so that it would fit in my 3" tall mortise.
It fits well, but you can see some of the damage if you blow it up.
The cross brace that goes on the top of this joint is a little fatter at the top than at the bottom, so it will need some tuning to be perfect.
Here's generally what the joint will look like.
For the second tenon, I decided to do the crosscuts for the cheeks first, followed by removal of the unused part of the tenon. Perhaps a narrower tenon won't turn out so ugly in the end.
You can see here I crosscut the upper part of the tenon that will be removed.
This was much easier in the end. Actually, it might not have been easier, but for one reason or another, it turned out much cleaner.
The second tenon.
All in all, I would say this will turn out nice. The joints are tight enough to stand on their own with no glue or wedges in them yet.
The base.
I will drawbore and wedge the joints for the legs, and the tenon will be removable with a wedge to hold the tusk tenon joint. Should I make the wedge from cherry, or should I make them something exotic like ebony?
A preview of the completed table.
The base is plenty strong to support the top. It is not screwed down, so it is a bit rattly at the moment. The top does rock a little on the cross supports. Eventually I will screw the top down with buttons, and add a center cross support. Hopefully the top will flex enough that I won't have to do any more flattening on it.

The top does have a few checks that will need either butterfly keys or epoxy. I'm thinking epoxy will be the best answer in this case.

Sadly, I had to leave for Spain after this. I'm not sure when I'll get back to it, but it is starting to look like a table-shaped object.

Still to do:
  • sink mortises in the tusk tenons and fit wedges.
  • fine-tune all of the M&Ts to ensure everything goes together perfectly.
  • drawbore the leg tenons.
  • chamfer all the sharp edges.
  • make buttons and mortises in the cross beams to hold them.
  • address the cracks in the top and smooth the top surface.
  • MAYBE bevel the underside of the 1 1/2" top to make it look lighter.
  • add finish.
I wish I could just finish this project, but we'll all just have to be a bit patient.

Previous posts:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

American Trestle Table - Part VI - The Rough Trestle

This part makes my arms hurt just remembering it. I've had a big hunk of cherry rolling around for years intended for a project that I never really started. I still want to make that project someday, but today I need that piece of cherry for this project.

Unfortunately, this board is just at the limit of how thick I think it should be. The mortises in the legs are 19mm wide, and this board rough is just a hair over 30mm. After planing it down by hand, it should be just the minimum thickness to keep my mind at ease.
Let's start by crosscutting it to length.
Ripping in my shop is a bit of an acrobatic endeavor. I only have one saw bench, because there's not room for two. My compromise is ripping with the board standing up in the vise.
Ripping gymnastics.
After ripping it to width I noticed that the trestle board was wobbling on my bench top, so I got out my trusty winding sticks to see how bad.
It's bad.
By the time I plane this board square, It will be thinner than the tenons should be. I need a new board.

Luckily, American cherry wood is pretty easy to get from my local lumberyard. Un-luckily, I don't have any wheels in Munich anymore, and workdays are always bad to try to arrange a ride out there at short notice.

Enter Public Transportation.
Waiting at the subway stop with my new wood.
That's right, I took the subway out to the lumberyard. Strangely, it was faster than driving. The big problem is the board I chose was 40mm thick and 3.5 meters long.

I did take my crosscut saw with me, which made it possible to get these boards on and off the train and two buses I needed to take to get home. The worst part was schlepping it 900 meters to the subway stop.

Back in the shop, it's time to do some more ripping.
A lot like work. Work you have to do over again needlessly.
Public transport actually took me past the Dictum workshop, which has machines. Sadly, it wasn't available for me to use that day. I just got on with it and did the best I could.
Cleaning up a sawn edge.
This board was cupped, but thankfully not twisted very much.
Cupped a bit.
I pulled out my monster Swedish jack plane to bring the high spots down in no time.
Thick shavings with my Swedish jack plane.
A good bit of work doing this by hand, but it can be done.
The bench planes I am using need some fettling
The planes I have in Spain are fettled and tuned to very high tolerances. The ones I have in Munich, not so much. I haven't gotten around to getting them perfect yet. However, they do seem to work as long as the blades are hyper sharp.
Sorta close.
This all cost me one entire day in the shop. I suppose it could have been worse. The next day I called Peter at Dictum again, and the shop was available for me to use the machines. Yay! It was a lot easier taking this board that was mostly done there on the bus, and I actually walked home with it.

It didn't need much, but I felt a little better about knowing that it now has two faces parallel to each other. It's not necessary, but it didn't take long. 

The machines did create some tearout in one spot where there is the beginnings of a knot.
This tearout was pretty bad.
Luckily I was able to adjust the leg so this spot was burried in the mortise. That means I don't have to mess with making this spot look better.
Lucky me!
Just a couple swipes with a smoothing plane and this board is ready for finish.

Next up, I'll cut the tenons.

Here are links to the previous articles about this table:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

Monday, March 25, 2019

American Trestle Table - Part V - The Legs

I spent a week or so back in Germany and was able to get a lot of work done on the table. I was hoping to finish it while I was there, but I was also realistic enough that I shouldn't count on it.

I'm back in Spain now, and I am pleased with the amount of work I completed on the table. One more trip back and I'll have it.


I didn't have the energy to blog about the build last week, so I'll do it now. I'll stretch this out to about for a few posts so you don't have to scroll through a hundred pictures.

Here is what was waiting for me on my bench when I got back.
Nope, the wood fairy didn't advance my project any since January.
The basic joinery was done on them, and I had tapered one of the upper rails. Let's knock out the other three tapers.

I did this by sawing close to the line, then planing the rest of the way. I made sure to mark where the upright beam met the foot so I wouldn't wreck the joint. In fact, I stayed about 1/2" away from it, intending to come back later and finish it off. I think I may not do any more, as it looks fine as it is.
I sawed the wedge off, then planed to my line using a jointer, then a smoother.
I was very careful when I glued up these laminations in order that the grain would look about right, but I am surprised it came out this well. My guess is that once the wood darkens up, it will be difficult to see there are two boards glued together.
Two boards glued together and finish planed.
After tapering each part, I sawed the end off at a pleasing angle. I checked to make sure the upper supports and the feet would be the same length to each other while I was at it. The upper support doesn't need to be the same length as the foot, but the feet should be the exact same length.
Sawing the angle on the end of this support.

This looks much more refined.
In January I upgraded my shop lighting. I got rid of the insufficient lighting I had and added four LED shop lights. This was an amazing difference, but it still could use a bit more. The directions said this light could handle being wired in series with up to six lights, so I ordered two more. The first one I put next to the one right behind my head that gives a little lateral light, and the other I mounted above my tool chest which gives me some direct horizontal light at my bench, right behind me when I am at my face vise.

Holy cow! What a difference!

The light coming in from the side is essential for seeing all of what is needed. It feels like a real shop now.
I'll admit it does look a little ridiculous with six shop lights in my 100 square foot shop.
I still might get some kind of moveable spotlight someday for close work, but for the meantime it is nice to be able to see what I'm doing for a change.

Back to work:
I was careful to make sure the parts were the same length after cutting the angle.
The feet were a little different, as I wanted to add a little cutout just like The Schwarz did in his article. I measured in about four inches from the end, and started a cut at the same angle as the foot.
Starting the removal of the center cutout to define the table's feet.
Then I made a series of relief cuts here and there to aid in chopping out the waste.
Saw down to the line...

Then bash out the waste.
When doing this, I usually start with the chisel about halfway to my depth mark, and go down halfway or so. Then, halfway again, this time the cut will be a little thinner and a little smoother. Eventually you get down to your line, flip the piece over and do the other side. This avoids blowing out something which can be seen when the foot is standing up.

I smoothed it the best I could with a plane, and didn't worry too much about it being perfect since it isn't a visible surface. However, the tenon now is sticking out, so I marked a pencil line around that and sawed it off.
Don't forget to saw off a little of the tenon, too!
The effect is a little bit more refined, and will hopefully sit sturdy on a floor that may not be perfect.
Finished feet.
Now that I got all that done, I realized I still had some more face planing to do to bring the surfaces of all the beams flush to each other. With these pointy ends, workholding isn't easy.

Or is it?

I just cut a notch in a piece of scrap and used it as a block between my work piece and my planing stop. It worked perfectly.
The 30-second solution.

That is, it took me 30 seconds to make this jig.
If you missed the previous posts on this build, check them out:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

And come back tomorrow for Part VI.