Maple Trestle Table, Session 11 – Straight Lines on Wonky Surfaces

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); and
Session 10 - Curvy Legs are Always Good.

(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 I’m back in the shop at 11am sharp! Should I tackle this stretcher issue? #flairww -11:00 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I realized this morning that I’d made an error in laying out the angle of the legs. #flairww -11:23 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I had laid out the angle of the leg so that it would be centred at the bottom of the foot, not the top where it enters. #flairww -11:24 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks However, this means that the leg leans even more and does not make it any easier to join the stretcher. #flairww -11:25 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks This is turning into a mental challenge. Thankfully it does not involve numbers like @HalfInchShy’s project#flairww-11:27 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Here, the centre of the leg where it enters the foot is centred over its position on the batten. #flairww -11:33 AM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I spent an hour on the phone with my partner @GarthTW2 discussing some new products we’re planning. Back to the table now. #flairww-12:31 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The shaded area represents the space that would be occupied by the wide end of the stretcher. #flairww -12:47 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The other end is much smaller and should not be a problem. #flairww -12:47 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Of course, I’ll cut tenons on the stretcher so that I don’t need to remove so much material from the leg. #flairww -12:48 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m confident that this angle for the legs will work so I’m going to go make the cut. Again, I’ll use my sliding table saw. #flairww -12:55 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m ready to make the cut. The slider guarantees the cuts will be in a straight line. #flairww -1:00 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Here’s the completed cut. I will cut the other end later. #flairww -1:01 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks While I’m thinking about what to do next for this leg, I’ll lay out and cut the angle of the other leg. #flairww -1:06 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks By the way, I’m making this table 43″ tall. #flairww -1:09 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks No I’m not. I’m making the table 29″ tall. I just wanted to see if anybody was paying attention. #flairww -1:10 PM May 2nd, 2012

LornaBourke @FlairWoodworks Chris, I’m following but I didn’t catch the start so I didn’t know how tall the table is #youarenotalone #flairww -1:15 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @LornaBourke Well, 43″ would be a very tall table. It would be unusual to say the least. Thanks for following! #flairww -1:17 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Both legs are now cut! #flairww -1:19 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I had left one part of the leg thicker to allow some sculpting, but it’s a problem now. #flairww -1:22 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks PS: Like my workbench? Working on the ground, Japanese-style. #flairww -1:22 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Before planing the face, I wrapped the layout lines over to the edges to preserve them. #flairww -1:26 PM May 2nd, 2012

Morton @FlairWoodworks 29″ high is what my current dining table project is going to be also. -1:28 PM May 2nd, 2012

luggermatt @FlairWoodworks I spend half my time working on the ground! It saves picking stuff up.. ;-) -1:30 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I don’t like it so far. #flairww RT @luggermatt:@FlairWoodworks I spend half my time working on the ground! It saves picking stuff up.. ;-) -1:32 PM May 2nd, 2012

luggermatt @FlairWoodworks When the timber you’re working with is 15ft lengths of 2″x8″ oak it’s easier. Move the machine to it too ;-) -1:32 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @luggermatt Well, yeah. -1:32 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks There – it’s leveled. Not my idea of fun… #flairww -1:42 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Now I need to re-establish my layout lines. #flairww -1:43 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m working on how to position the stretcher. Here, the midpoint of each end is at the same height. #flairww -1:59 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Note that about 10″ will be cut off of the left side. #flairww -1:59 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m standing back and having a drink of water while I analyze the stretcher’s positioning. Should I make one end higher? #flairww -2:00 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I have longer and shorter levels but the 2′ level gets the most use. An 18″ level might be nice. #flairww -2:04 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve decided to go forwards with the balanced positioning of the stretcher. I used the level to mark plumb lines on each end. #flairww -2:05 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks If my shop were wide enough, I could crosscut the stretcher with my sliding table saw. #flairww -2:09 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Since my shop is not that wide, my options include my compound mitre saw, jigsaw, or handsaw. #flairww -2:09 PM May 2nd, 2012

BourbonCremeBot RT @FlairWoodworks I sure could use a Bourbon Creme about now #flairww -2:14 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m opting to use the jigsaw. I clamped a piece of plywood to the top of the stretcher. #flairww -2:21 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The plywood provides a smooth, even surface on which the jigsaw can ride without getting caught. #flairww -2:22 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The trouble with non-flat stock is that it always wants to move. You have to secure it really well. #flairww -2:23 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Well, that certainly wasn’t the best cut I’ve ever done. But it’s good enough since it will be trimmed later. #flairww -2:27 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks So… how do I cut parallel tenons on either end of a long, non-flat, curved, stretcher? #flairww -2:29 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I know I can figure out a way to cut the tenons, but if you have an idea, I’m listening! #flairww -2:30 PM May 2nd, 2012

msnodgrass2 @FlairWoodworks would snapping chalk lines help? I didn’t see the stretcher -2:33 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I don’t think so. #flairww RT@msnodgrass2: @FlairWoodworks would snapping chalk lines help? I didn’t see the stretcher -2:34 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @msnodgrass2 It’s more the general wonkiness, rather than the curve that makes it difficult. #flairww -2:35 PM May 2nd, 2012

kring_l @FlairWoodworks long semi flexible strait edge for the face but not sure 4 the ends -2:36 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Would that make it semi-straight? #flairww RT @kring_l:@FlairWoodworks long semi flexible strait edge for the face but not sure 4 the ends -2:38 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The positioning of my saw horses indicates that my shop may be a little crowded. #flairww -2:39 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks My winding sticks show the twist in the stretcher from one end to the other. #flairww -2:43 PM May 2nd, 2012

kring_l @flairwoodworks no the edge stays strait the face can bow I use a 4 foot aluminum ruler type strait edge -2:45 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Gotcha. #flairww RT @kring_l: no the edge stays strait the face can bow I use a 4 foot aluminum ruler type strait edge -2:45 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I realized that the twist could help me if it twisted in the right direction. But it doesn’t. #flairww -2:49 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m using the short fence on my table saw to crosscut parts for my tenoning jig to a consistent length. #flairww -2:59 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve marked the direction of grain runout on the jig parts. In this direction, the wood planes cleanly. #flairww -3:04 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I like to assemble my jigs with screws so I can later take them apart and reuse the parts. #flairww -3:19 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks (Have you ever seen an uglier jig?) #flairww -3:19 PM May 2nd, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks That doesn’t look bad at all! Put a flair mark on it :) #flairww -3:23 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Yuk yuk yuk! RT @HalfInchShy: @FlairWoodworks That doesn’t look bad at all! Put a flair mark on it :) #flairww -3:23 PM May 2nd, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks The one from the Ceros demo #flairww -3:24 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I jointed the edge of the jig square to the face. The jig is now done. #flairww -3:24 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @HalfInchShy I don’t follow… #flairww -3:24 PM May 2nd, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks In ur Ceros sanding demo, u made a flair mark to be sanded; add 2 here to make it moe betta (asymmetrical of course #flairww -3:25 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks @HalfInchShy Good call. It looks much better now. #flairww -3:28 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks With the jig clamped to the stretcher, I now have parallel reference surfaces on each side. #flairww -3:29 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Okay – lunch time! #flairww -3:30 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Darn it… somebody tracked sawdust into the house again. Hey – don’t look at me! #flairww -3:33 PM May 2nd, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks my 24″ level sees the most time too. -4:33 PM May 2nd, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks mark 1 w/ a level. Go across w/ a straight edge, adjust height as desired & level the 2nd one. -4:40 PM May 2nd, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Bet you could go for some Bourbon Cream right about now… #flairww -4:46 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m back in the shop and I’ll set up to rout the first tenon. #Woodchat starts in 20 minutes. #flairww -5:40 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks There is no way I’ll be able to rout the full length of the tenons without a wider router baseplate. #flairww -5:45 PM May 2nd, 2012

bourboncreambot RT @HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Bet you could go for some Bourbon Cream right about now… #flairww -5:46 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Rather than make an offset router baseplate, I’m going to use a router attached to a table insert. #flairww -5:48 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks That’s right, @HalfInchShy - I don’t mess around! #flairww -5:48 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve got the jig set up and router bit installed. Next, I need to figure out how deep to set the bit. #flairww -5:56 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks How do these proportions look? When dealing with large tenons, I leave the tenon a bit thicker than 1/3. #flairww -6:01 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Time for #woodchat. Feel free to join in on Twitter! I’ll resume the project in one hour. #flairww -6:01 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Ok, #woodchat crew. I need to go rout some tenons with my inverted router table. #flairww -6:59 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I did what I could with my routers (more router frustrations). I’ll do the rest by hand. #flairww -7:37 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks You want a challenge? Clamp this stretcher solidly! #flairww -8:00 PM May 2nd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ll finish fine-tuning the first tenon after dinner. #flairww -8:05 PM May 2nd, 2012

Hey – the next day is “after dinner” too.

While you’re waiting for me to return from my dinner break, please leave a comment.

My Tall Workbench with Flair

This bench was inspired after the Joinery Bench that Shannon Rogers brought to Woodworking in America.  It was intended to simply be a taller workbench and I honestly did not know how useful I would find it (ask me in half a year).

This small bench was built taller than normal (39.5″) to allow joinery to be cut at a more comfortable height – no more bending over to see your scribe lines.  I built the base using drawbored mortise and tenon joinery.  The bench was made of Western maple.

Tall Workbench Assembled

All the joints were drawbored mortise and tenons.  I used my drill press and chisels to cut the mortises and cut the tenons with my bandsaw and tuned them with my shoulder plane and chisels.

Mortise and Tenon

In this video, I demonstrated how I shaped and installed drawbore pegs while discussing why drawbored mortise and tenon joints are effective.  Listen how the sound changes as the peg encounters the offset hole in the stretcher’s tenon.  (Duration:  1:27.)

To keep the build simple, I only did what was necessary.  The faces of the legs were left rough-sawn and the back of the bench top still bears a live edge.  The bench top was attached to the base with four lag bolts in oversized holes to allow for expansion.  No glue was used.

In this second video, I showed how I used my sliding table saw to straighten one edge, then crosscut the two adjacent edges square.  (Duration:  3:09.)

The bench itself required 13 hours to construct and the Moxon Vise with Flair required another two hours.

Tall Workbench

What do you think of my 13-hour Tall Workbench with Flair?

Quite a few other bloggers are documenting (or have documented) the building of their workbenches.  You can read about their benches by following these links:

(If I have missed your bench build, please leave a link in the comments section.)