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Building the 2x Side Table: Joinery Part 3

Furniture with exposed joinery is not only an expression of craftsmanship but of honesty.   Joinery as a design element should be used with restraint.  Modern furniture has sometimes rejected the importance of joinery in search of sleek lines.  I believe there is a balance and its success is marked by using joinery for strength without overwhelming the simplicity of the piece.

Lay out the center-line of the dado for the shelf, by ganging both legs together with a clamp.

Note: I use only a centerline as this eliminates the mistake of being on the wrong side of the line.

The dado jig I am using, wonderfully explained by the Wood Whisperer:

http://thewoodwhisperer.com/exact-width-dado-jig/

is clamped in place with a plunge router/ bushing setup.

Putting the boards back together, to double check that the dado lines up, here is the result:

With the dado cut, we can layout the mortises for the through tenons.

Score the outline of the mortise with a marking knife, to fight chipout.

Next up, how do you cut those mortises?

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Building the 2x Side Table: Joinery Part 2

We all settle on our own way of doing things, and that includes how you execute a dovetail joint.
With the outside of the tails cut, a coping saw is my first choice to remove the waste pins.
I cut the outside waste pins, just shy of the base line with a handsaw.

From here you pare to the baseline, halfway through the board, using chisels in incremental steps, flip and repeat from the otherside

Transferring the lines to the pin board is a feat with a table this size, quick clamps help to keep things in place.

Cutting the pins is more of the same, keep the chisels sharp and get out of the way of the saw.

Next Up, cutting the shelf joinery.

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Building the 2x Side Table: Joinery Part 1

Once all your parts are sized up, we can turn our attention to the essence of the table: the joinery.

Big dovetails are as much fun to cut as they are to piston-fit together.

It all starts with your layout:

I like the pins and tails to stick out a bit when assembled so I can plane everything flush post glue up, so I pad the marking gauge with a business card. I strike a deep groove to mark my baseline.

Once all the baselines are marked, I cut a 1/32″ rabbet on the inside faces of my tail boards.  If you are unfamiliar with this technique, read up on it here via the obligatory Schwarz post:

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techniques/joinery/handplanes-and-dovetails

I like a router table setup for the cut, for lack of a moving fillister plane.

Set the fence for flush with the leading edge of a sharp straight bit, and then bump it a hair back.

Set your tail board on its top edge and adjust the bit so it grazes the top of your baseline mark, run you tail boards across an you should get this:

Now before you start reaching for the chisels, lets do some quick layout.

Gang your boards together and even their edges flush. I clamp this assembly together and use a hold-down in the right bench leg to tighten it against the front edge of the bench top. You want this to be rock solid.

Dovetail proportions are as varied and personal as any other stylistic choice in the craft.  Pick your own poison and stick with it.  My vote is well summed up by Roy Underhill :

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techniques/joinery/roy-underhills-dovetails

No need to repeat that info here.

I generally measure out the center of the tailboard, mark 1x stock thickness on either side, and that is my center tail.  From their I will mark out  1/2 x stock thickness and those are my pins, continuing in this manner until all my joint is laid out.

You can see that depending on the width you may have to adjust the remaining tails to get a more even spacing, but who says they have to be even at all.

Next up, sharpen your implements.

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Building the 2x Side Table: Glueup & Dimensioning

It doesn’t matter how many times you have done it, panel glue-ups are the beginning of a downward spiral.

This glue-up resulted in a board bowed across its width.

Probable cause : all the clamps are on one side.
Prevention: alternate the clamps up, down, up down to even the clamping pressure.
Solution: Light pass thru a planer or flatten the surface with a handplane.

With all the panels glued up its time to size the pieces to final dimensions.

For the width I use a 24-th rip blade and the fence set to 15″, Blade Guard, Splitter and Over the Blade Dust Collection.

 The panel width are 15″, so the SCMS (Makita with a 12″ cap)  is not an option. Dust off the Cross-cut sled and put in a hi-tooth count blade for a nice cut.

If you don’t have a crosscut sled, Marc, TheWoodWhisperer, does a brilliant job explaining how to construct your own in this video:

http://thewoodwhisperer.com/the-cross-cut-sled/

The one I use is from an old Wood Magazine article, and is lightweight for simple cuts.

Next up, Joinery