Friday, August 27

Tray Tables: Today I’m a Leg Man

Today I’ll make up the leg pairs for Dianna’s tray tables, and possibly get some done for the extra table. I start by using the wide drum sander to sand the leg pieces smooth (removing planer marks) and to the finished dimension. This takes longer than you might think because I have to take very light passes or the belt clogs with sanding dust and burns deep red marks into the wood. Not good!

Next up is trimming the leg pieces to length. For that I use my miter saw fitted with this oh-so complicated fixture. If you can’t tell, I’m being facetious. It is a simple backer with an end stop attached. But it does a superior job of holding the leg parts so I can cut them all to exactly the same length I could have used my big miter gauge on the table say for this, but the miter saw is just a step away from the workbench, making lay-out, cutting and marking very simple and quick. The table saw is WAYYYY over there. A good 10 feet away!

Now I use my lay-out templates to mark the shapes of the ends of each leg and a punch to mark where counter-bored screw holes will go. My ‘punch’ here is just a blunted nail. It isn’t fancy, but it precisely fits into the holes in the template and works just as well as a fancy punch or nail set would.

At the drill press I used a countersink bit to bore counter bored shank holes for the screws, then it on to the stationary belt sander where I shape the ends of the legs. I keep a booger bar within easy reach for frequent cleaning of the sanding belt to prevent burning the wood and have the dust collector hose strapped in behind the belt so my sinuses won’t hurt so badly tonight. Cherry dust really irritates my nasal passages!

A large part of the afternoon is spent hand sanding each leg pair once I’ve got all the milling done. Then I pre-finish the area that will be inside the pivot joint, install a fender washer to facilitate smooth action and install the pivot screw.

I have tried all manner of fancy pivot hinges and joiners here, but I keep coming back to a simple wood screw because it is the most stable of all the methods I’ve tried. All the pivot hinges I’ve bought to try wre either way too large to use here (made for porch furniture) or had so much slop in them that they were unusable.

I ran each pair of legs through this entire process individually because I took the time to match the two legs up carefully for color and grain. Trying to “batch” them would make it difficult to keep them paired up properly.

The day is at an end now, I’ve gotten done what I set out to do and it is Friday: Date Night with my sweetie. Tomorrow is Saturday, normally that is my yard work day, but I will probably be in tomorrow to work on these some more because I am behind schedule. I could take some shortcuts and work faster, but that reduces quality. I don’t want to do that, so I’ll work the extra hours instead.

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