Tuesday, August 14

Tuesday – Making Panels

This morning I got right to work on the tea chests. Today’s task was to take the parts that were roughed out yesterday, trim them to finished size, shape them into completed parts and begin assembling the parts into sub-assemblies. The primary goal for today: side and back panels.

I trimmed to size with a fine tooth blade on the table saw, and did the shaping with a straight, two flute bit on the router table. This is the type of operation where some plans will try to really over complicate things. But by keeping it simple, all of the grooving and tenoning can be done with the same router bit, and with just one change over in the set-up. Of course there is some fine tuning to do using scrap pieces before committing the good stuff to the cutter, but that is normal anyway.

Once the pieces are cut I test fit each assembly; the panel fits between the rails, then the stiles slip onto the ends. Everything should take a snug fit, but not too snug; nothing should have to be hammered home. This panel assembly has not been sanded or glued, just being test fitted together.

Once everything fits properly, the panels are disassembled, sanded to remove milling marks and pencil lines. Then glue is applied only to the rail & stile joints, not to the panels: they must be free to expand and shrink, and clamps brought into play. I check each panel to be sure it’s square, if not the clamp can be adjusted to pull it into square.

Once the glue in the panel joints is tacked up I remove the clamo and cut the miter joints at the rear corners of the case, then cut the miter lock slots. By inserting a spline in the slots the joint is locked in position and can not slide under clamping pressure. Anyone who has ever tried to glue up a plain vertical miter joint knows how tricky it is to keep the lined up and held tightly together along it’s full length. This is a quick way to insure that there are no surprises when the clamps come off.

Speaking of clamps, they go on next. It looks like a lot of clamps. Maybe it is, but it is what it takes to clamp the joints evenly in both directions.

This will have to set and dry for a while, so it’s time to clean up the shop a tad and go home for supper. I will come back after supper to glue and clamp the second case body so they will both be ready for the next step in the morning.

See you tomorrow.


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