Maple Trestle Table, Session 24 – Profiling the Table’s Edge

On the morning of Sunday, April 15th, Morton and I exchanged ideas about trestle tables, spurred on by a recent sketch of a table on which he was working.  That got me yearning to build a trestle table.

I documented my progress live on Twitter which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  Here is a list of the previous Sessions:

Session 1 – Flat Boards are Boring;
Session 2 – Playing with Slabs;
Session 3 – From Two Slabs to One Table Top;
Session 4 – Clamping Odd Shapes and Sketching on Wood;
Session 5 – Routing Pockets for Battens;
Session 6 – Making Battens and Installing Countertop Connectors;
Session 7 – Installing Battens and Flattening the Underside;
Session 8 – Make Your Tools Work for You and Flattening the Top;
Session 9 – Mortises the Slow Way (or Why I’m Buying a Domino XL);
Session 10 – Curvy Legs are Always Good;
Session 11 – Straight Lines on Wonky Surfaces;
Session 12 – Fitting the Mother of all Mortise & Tenon Joints;
Session 13 – Making Things Better, Worse, then Better;
Session 14 – Battens and Complicated Tenons, Again;
Session 15 – The Trestle Comes Together Session;
Session 16 – Angled Mortises and Tenons;
Session 17 – Two Feet for Two Legs;
Session 18 – Attachment Strips and Power Carving;
Session 19 – Refining the Sculpted Base;
Session 20 – A Little Sanding, then Lots More Sanding;
Session 21 – Preparing for a Big Glue-Up;
Session 22 – Fitting and Joining the Table Top; and
Session 23 – The Bottom of the Top.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username, being the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are preceded by a @ symbol and are people to whom the author is talking.  The other symbol you see is #, which serves as a category.  I try to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

FlairWoodworks Welcome to Session 24! I’ll continue work on the Maple Trestle Table by cutting the ends, then working on the edge profile. #flairww -12:48 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m ready to make the first cut. #flairww -12:58 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I cut the curve with my jigsaw. Now I’m using my low-angle block plane to clean up and fair the curve. #flairww -1:22 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks This joint is nice and tight. #flairww -1:25 PM May 27th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks Now THAT’S a joint! How thick is the wood there again? -1:29 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks It’s 2-1/8″ thick. #flairww RT @gvmcmillan:@FlairWoodworks Now THAT’S a joint! How thick is the wood there again? -1:29 PM May 27th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks That’s substantial – what did you use to make that much thickness so perfect? Surely not a hand plane? -1:31 PM May 27, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan I used a router to get it close, then a handplane to get it perfect. #flairww -1:32 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks The curve looks and feels fair. Therefore, it must be fair. #flairww -1:38 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Now I’ll cut the other end. #flairww -1:39 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Here’s another angle of the cut end. #flairww -1:40 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks When using the jigsaw upside-down, I find it helpful to carry the cut line down the edge. #flairww -1:49 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I completed the cut. I have more control with the jigsaw set to not orbit. #flairww -1:58 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Again, I’m using my block plane to fair the curve. The light areas are the low spots. #flairww-2:21 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks The end curves are fair. The next step is to lay out the edge profile. #flairww -2:28 PM May 27th, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks have you figured it out? -2:31 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @DyamiPlotke All the edge profiles in the base are convex, as are the ends of the table. I want to mimic the profile of the legs. #flairww -2:34 PM May 27th, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks good plan. -2:40 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Before I start profiling the edge, I’m going to tidy up the shop. #flairww -2:47 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I unscrewed the particle board cauls. The materials may be reused or tossed. #flairww -2:48 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve used more than 22 sanding discs so far. They cost about a buck each. #flairww -3:03 PM May 27th, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks they don’t seem very long lived -3:07 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @DyamiPlotke Some still have life in them, but they do tend to wear quickly when working on sculpted surfaces. #flairww -3:08 PM May 27th, 2012

 Tumblewood @FlairWoodworks @DyamiPlotke Yea, it seems a big difference between finishing a surface and creating a surface, in terms of longevity. -3:09 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks To cut the edge profile evenly, I’m going to first cut a wide bevel. #flairww -3:27 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks To lay out the bevel, I made two simple jigs. They guide a pencil to draw a line parallel to the edges. #flairww -3:29 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks The second jig marks the other guideline. #flairww -3:41 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve started establishing the end bevel with my biggest gouge and a mallet. #flairww -3:51 PM May 27th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks Yep, that’s a pretty big gouge! My biggest is 1″ -4:00 PM May 27th, 2012

Tumblewood @FlairWoodworks are you still going for a cove vs a bevel? I can’t think of an expedient way to do that. #flairww

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan This one is a 9/25 (#9 sweep, 25mm mm wide, for the non-carvers). #flairww -4:03 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Tumblewood No, I’m doing an elliptical roundover. #flairww -4:03 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Tumblewood The quickest way to make a large cove on something like this table top would be a series of passes with a router… #flairww -4:04 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Tumblewood … then sandpaper to finish. #flairww -4:04 PM May 27th, 2012

Tumblewood @FlairWoodworks oh cool. The round over would’ve been my choice, too.  #flairww -4:10 PM May 27th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks I think I’d be tempted to knock of the largest bits with my jig saw set at a 45 degree angle. #flairww -4:11 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan The only trouble with that is the bevel angle is a 1:2 rise/run ratio. #flairww -4:11 PM May 27th, 2012

Tumblewood @FlairWoodworks yea with a big cove bit. Would still require a LOT of extra work. #flairww -4:11 PM May 27th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks Yes, but, ahem, who decided that? ;) #flairww -4:12 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Tumblewood Some extra work for sure. How would it be compared to the alternatives? #flairww -4:13 PM May 27th, 2012

Tumblewood @FlairWoodworks I think your approach melds w/ the base very well.  #flairww -4:15 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Thanks, Vic! I do too. RT @Tumblewood:@FlairWoodworks I think your approach melds w/ the base very well. #flairww -4:16 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve used the gouge to remove most of the waste. #flairww -4:33 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Now I’m using a coarsely-set block plane across the grain to refine the bevel. #flairww -4:34 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Here’s the first bevel completed. I’ll do the other end next. #flairww -4:45 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks As I’m wasting away the bevel with my gouge and mallet, “Wasting Away” by The Northern Pikes started to play! #flairww -4:47 PM May 27th, 2012

Tumblewood @FlairWoodworks SWEET! #flairww -4:50 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks When chopping away waste, it does not make sense to be timid. When the chips break free, they fly 4-6′ from the table. #flairww -4:56 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I cannot believe how long this gouge stays sharp. #flairww -5:00 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks The second end is shaped. I’m tired and hungry so I’m stopping for lunch. #flairww -5:14 PM May 27th, 2012

DyamiPlotke: @FlairWoodworks what brand? -5:43 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks My gouge is a Pfeil (a.k.a. Swiss-Made). #flairww RT @DyamiPlotke: @FlairWoodworks what brand? -5:44 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks After a delicious lunch, I’m back at work on the edges of the table. I’m going to work on the long edges next. #flairww -6:19 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks The curves present a little bit of a challenge but mostly they will make progress slower. #flairww-6:23 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks The difficult figure won’t help either. #flairww -6:24 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks My drawknife works quickly to remove most of the waste. #flairww -6:30 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I cleaned up the edge with my flat spokeshave. #flairww -6:40 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks As I expected, this section is difficult to work. #flairww -6:43 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks The best way I’ve found to work this section is to use the gouge to chop into the edge. #flairww -6:47 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks My right arm is sore from swinging my 12oz carver’s mallet but the gouge work is done here. #flairww -6:56 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve got one long bevel done. Next! #flairww -7:29 PM May 27th, 2012

woodshaver101 @FlairWoodworks A draw knife would do wonders on such a large bevel.looking good. -8:04 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Thanks! This is a lot of work! #flairww RT @woodshaver101: @FlairWoodworks A draw knife would do wonders on such a large bevel.looking good. -8:05 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I just finished the difficult (and beautiful) section on this edge. #flairww -8:06 PM May 27th, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks that looks great with the curve of the flitch -8:07PM May 27th, 2012

Tumblewood @FlairWoodworks looks awesome! #flairww -8:11 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m just glad my spokeshaves can handle this grain! #flairww -8:12 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I resorted to the gouge for this heavily-figured section. #flairww -8:25 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks When the grain is this figured, is it any wonder it took so long to shape? The bevel is complete. #flairww -8:33 PM May 27th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m done work for now. Next, the bevels will turn into gentle curves. #flairww -8:34 PM May 27th, 2012

In the next session, I’ll continue working on the bottom half of the edge profile.  You can leave a comment here.

Construction of “Table with a Twist” – Part 3: Top and Finishing


This is the third post on the construction of my Table with a Twist.  The first post covered the making of the legs and the second post covered the aprons.

The tabletop was the last main component to be made.  I had selected a premium piece of figured maple which I milled to about 42″ x 12-1/2″ x 1-1/8″.  As usual, I focused on proportions over even numbers.  I knew that a rectilinear top wouldn’t suit the overall design of the table so I planned to introduce some curves.  To ensure the top was symmetrical, I made two templates from my favourite template stock – 1/4″ MDF.  One template was for the front edge and the other was for the ends.  The back was left straight.  I cut the templates out using my bandsaw and used a stationary belt sander to smooth the edges.  Then I traced their shapes onto the maple top and used the jigsaw to cut close to the line.

After securing the templates to the top, I used a template bit to finish the profile.  The large-diameter bit made a very smooth cut and took large shavings, even on the end-grain.

After shaping the top, I set it on the base to see how it looked.  The 1-1/8″ thick top was too visually heavy and adding a small chamfer or round-over would not have been enough to lighten the top.  To make the top look less chunky, I chose to bevel both the top and bottom.  But instead of using the same profile on each side, I used a standard 45-degree chamfer bit on the bottom and a low-angle panel-raising bit on the top to create a wide bevel.

To attach the top to the base, I used wooden buttons.  I cut them on the tablesaw and drilled screw holes with the drill press.  Can you see the mistake I made?

After having completed the first batch, I noticed that the grain was oriented the wrong way.  With the grain running this way, the tongue, to the right in the picture, could have easily broken off if stressed.

Once I made the new buttons with the grain oriented properly, the power tools were retired.  Next, I gave everything a careful look over and lightly sanded all surfaces with 180x sandpaper.  Before finishing, I cleaned the wood by wiping it down with alcohol.  The last step was to apply a couple coats of spray-on polyurethane followed by wipe-on polyurethane to build up a protective, scratch-resistant finish.

I’ll leave you with my favourite picture of the table.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the process as much as I have.

Peter Roberston Is My Hero

We Canadians have long understood the value of the Robertson screw, invented by one Peter L. Robertson in 1907. Unlike Phillips- and slot-head screws, they don’t cam out or strip easily. Also, with a well-made bit and well-made screws, the screw will stay securely on the tip of the driver. How well? These two pictures should answer that question. There is no trickery here – no glue, not additional supports, and no photo editing. These photos are real – the screw driven and photo shot by me in my shop.

When I put up the plywood ceiling in my shop, I used #2 Robertson screws and a #2 Roberston bit in my impact driver. I would put a screw on the end of the bit and hang the driver from a tool hook on my belt. Then I would wrestle the sheet of plywood into place and drive the one screw into the ceiling with my right hand while holding up the plywood with my left.

Then I would carefully release the impact driver and leave it suspended from the screw head. My left hand was still holding up the other side of the plywood. With my right hand, I then reached into the pouch on my belt for another screw and pressed the tip into the plywood where it would hang. Then, I would retrieve my driver from the first screw and drive the second.

Try doing that with Phillips screws.

PS: If you are interested in reading more about the screw and screwdriver, I’d strongly recommend One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw by Witold Rybczynski.

Tools I Use Daily

There are some of the non-powered tools which I use nearly every time I work in the shop. These are my necessities, tools that make my work so much easier and most are a joy to use. Some are expensive, some are not. All are worth every penny to me. Here’s the list:-COMBINATION SQUARE: I’m happy with my 18″ Empire Pro model – it goes for less than $20. I also own a few smaller 4″ and 6″ models (combo or double squares) and they are handy. They cost me from $25-50 each.

-STANLEY LEVERLOCK TAPE MEASURES: Some people find the locking mechanism awkward, but I love it. I found a 3-pack (30′, 25′, 12′) on sale for $10. I keep the 25′ and 30′ tapes scattered around my shop and the 12′ in my pocket. I also carry around a 6′ Tape-in-a-can which used to be made by Veritas. Good luck finding one nowadays though.

-STRAIGHT EDGE: Not a machinist’s precision-ground straight edge, just something to draw straight lines. A 1/2″ thick, straight piece of wood is a good size and costs me nothing. Aluminum or steel rules are nice too.

-MARKING GAUGE: I like the micro-adjustable wheel type. I don’t think graduations on the rod are that useful. Mine set me back about $35.

-0.5mm MECHANICAL PENCILS: They make a fine line and don’t need sharpening. Cheap too. I also use carpenter’s pencils a lot for less critical work. Their lines are less accurate, but I use the scales on my power tools to provide the accuracy.

-MARKING KNIFE: I have a bunch I use: one made from an old jigsaw blade (thank you Derek Cohen), an X-acto, a couple for carving, a spear-point. They all work, some better for certain tasks than others. I don’t like a knife with bevels on both faces for marking. None cost me more than $20.

-TUCKER VISE: Patternmaker’s vices are not cheap or easy to find, but they are very versatile and very useful. I use all the features – the quick-release, the rotation, the tilt, skewing of jaws – regularly. The quick-release foot pedal which I believe is exclusive to the Tucker is a real bonus and I am lost without it. It last retailed for about $700.

-SAFETY GOGGLES: Not glasses, goggles. They’re actually called Chemical Splash Goggles. I like them because they fit comfortably over my glasses, plus they protect from riccochets. $20 and worth every penny.

-EAR MUFFS: Easy to put on even over longer hair. The downside is that in the warmer months, the warmth they provide is unwanted. To keep cooler, I like Zem’s hearing protectors. Either type costs less than $25.