Thursday, December 10

Table Leg Pairs

I start out the morning by going out and cutting the middle out of a big tree that fell across the driveway. Details on that are posted [HERE] if you’re interested. Once the tree was off the drive I re-arrange the finishing room so I could lacquer the bi-fold door that I stained yesterday. I will work on that on and off through out the day. The I get out the leg blanks I cut a few days ago and look them over carefully to see if any have bowed beyond usability. A small amount of bowing can be removed, severe bowing would earn it the new status of firewood. They’re all good, so I proceed with cutting then all to exactly the same length. I use our chop saw (AKA compound miter saw) with a stop block clamped to the fence to do this. Then I use the jointer to straighten and square all of the legs. On thin, springy pieces like this straightening a piece is tricky because if I just mash it down on the bed I’ll make it a bit thinner, but no straighter because the wood will just spring back up after the planning pass. So I lay each leg on the jointer bed, which is dead-flat, and check to see if and where any gaps between each face of the leg and the jointer bed are. Then I mark locations in pencil where I will want to place my holding tools so I do not mash it out flat, but allow the spring to spring. I joint one face with the pressure pushing the piece down on the bed, mark that face as having been jointed, then turn the leg 90° and press it against the fence as I run it through the jointer again. This straightens two adjoining faces and makes those faces square to one another. I mark both jointed faces. Then I set up the planer and run the legs through with one of the jointed faces down against the bed, the high speed knives that whirl above remove some wood on each pass to make that face smooth and parallel to the jointed face. I run all the legs through again and again until they have reached the 7/8” finished thickness. Then I flip all the legs 90° so the other jointed face is down and repeat the process. When done, the legs are the proper size, perfectly square, smooth and straight. Now I match up the legs into pairs that look good together. Then I get out my leg templates and lay-out where all the screw holes will go. To keep the look I want, I have to be careful that the legs remain properly oriented to one another and paired with their mate. I use a counter-boring bit to drill the screw holes, pilot holes, counter sinks and counter bores as needed. Attention is needed here to be sure I don’t counter bore one that is supposed to only be counter sunk. To countersink a screw, a shallow cone shaped recess is drilled where the head of the screw will sit so the flat, outer face is flush with the wood. A counter bore uses the same bit but goes deeper so the cone shaped recess is at the bottom of a well in the wood. This allows a wooden plug to be glued in over the head of the screw to hide it completely. Then I do the final shaping of the leg ends and sand all the legs to 150 grit. Now I’m ready to pre-finish the areas of the legs that will end up being inside the pivot points and assemble the leg pairs by installing the pivot screws. All that is left to do now is to make and attach the leg mounting blocks, being sure to pre-finish the area where they meet the legs. The leg pairs are now done, tomorrow we’ll make spreaders and assemble leg pairs into completed leg sets.

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