Tuesday, November 23

Cherry Tray Tables - Getting started

Today, fellow woodworkers, is Tuesday and I’m behind schedule again. I expected to spend Monday morning working on the weekly radio program and Monday afternoon working on David’s trailer then closing out the day by taking stock of the cherry TV Tray Table parts I have on hand - we recently made another set of these and I made extra parts, indenting to complete the additional set in time to offer it for Christmas.

I think it was Charlie Brown who said, “Life is what happens when you’ve made other plans.” That was my Monday. Part of it involved a mushroom cloud rising above my newest venture The Simple Life Prattle. This kind of takes the place of the older Mountain Man Wannabe blog. Details aren’t really relevant here, so I’ll just apologize for the delays and get on with today’s tasks.

After dealing with e-mail and some routine maintenance I pulled out the cherry table parts and took inventory. It’s actually better than I remembered. I knew I had the one tray dry fitted and ready for sanding, and enough leg blanks to make 4 tables. But I also have enough rail stock for the other three tables all grooved and routed, ready to cut and fit as well as stock for the stand’s feet and handle, latch blocks, and leg mounts. That leaves only a hand-full of parts blanks needing to be made up.

So my first task is stock selection. I look through the boards I have in the next room and select boards that are suitable for each of the parts I have to make. I’ll start with the ribbon panels for the three remaining tables. So I select some nice flat-sawn stock with fairly even coloring. By ripping a flat sawn board into thin strips and laying those strips flat, next to one another we get some beautiful quarter-sawn patterns in the grain. You never know for sure exactly what you’re going to get until the strips are cut. A few cherry table sets have come out with a quilted pattern that was especially beautiful. It is this aspect that insures that not two sets of tables will be exactly alike. I do want to get the wood for all the tables from one tree, and preferably from consecutive boards so all 4 tables in the set match well.

Next up I joint one wide face and one edge, making them both flat and smooth and square to one another. I do the wide face first by laying the board on the bed of the jointer so the whirling knives in the bed remove just a little wood on each pass until that face is flattened. Then I flip that board up on edge and run the jointed face along the fence, allowing the knives to work the edge of the board.

This is Scrappy, he’s a black lab pup who owns the Preacher across the road from us. Normally my “girls”; Dolly and Zadie go out for a play-date with Scrappy in the early afternoon. It’s raining today and they chose to stay inside and snooze in the office, so he came looking for them. Sorry Scrappy, They’re feeling wimpy today.

The next step is to cut the blanks into ribbons. I do this at the table saw with a thin-kerf rip blade installed and the fence set to 5/16”. This will give me 1/16” of extra thickness that can be removed to smooth the panels after glue-up. That’s not a lot, so I have to be careful how I cut the ribbons and get them good and even.

I mark each blank before cutting it, then keep the ribbons oriented as I cut them off so that grain patterns remain consistent as they flow across a panel. The pencil marks help me get them back in order if I drop a bundle while moving them around. Not that I’d do anything like that mind you, but just in case.

Doing it this way takes quite a lot of time because each time I cut a strip, I have to walk around the table saw and take the strip off the back side, lay the strip in position on the side wing, walk back around front and cut another strip. Having someone on the back side of the saw taking off the strips cuts this process to about 1/5 the time.

OK, so that’s one blank done, 3 to go. Then I’ll finish off the day by writing and posting these notes for you and head home. Drop in again tomorrow as we make up ribbon panels.

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