Monday, March 21

Tray Tables - Cutting Tray Rails

First I must apologize for the lack of progress; the sinus infection that had plagued me came back in full force.  I went home on Friday intending to take a short nap and awoke 5 hours later.  Normally I can not sleep in the day time at all.  I spent all weekend napping and resting.  Today I'm felling better, but will be glad when I get these tables done and can get away from the woodworking all together for a while.  It's breathing saw dust that causes the sinus trouble, and will undoubtedly lead to emphysema as well.

The tray panels have been assembled and trimmed to size.  The tray rail stock has been milled.  So now I set up to cut the rabbet on the bottom of the tray panels.  This is needed because we changed the design from using 1/8" Baltic Birch for the backer panel to using 1/4" cabinet grade Birch plywood when Katrina hit and the supply of most plywood dwindles and the prices skyrocketed.  This cabinet grade plywood is much more readily available tham Baltic Birch ply is.  To compensate for the extr thickness, i cut these rabbets. 

I start by fitting a piece of the milled rail stock to the edge of the panel and useing a fine point drafting pencil to mark the panel to indicare the amount of wood to be removed.  Then I use a depth gauge to measure this dimension and use the depth gauge to set up the blade on my table saw.
I make one test cut.  The final cut will be done in two passes, here I make just the first cut, and only part way along the panel edge.  Just enough to do a test fit.  Perfect!

Rather than moving the fence to make the two cuts, I set the fence and lock it in , then use a spacer shim on the first pass.  I can not use a stack dado here because the minimum width of the stacked set is too wide for this cut.  I could use a sacrificial fence and bury part of the blade in the fence to get the 3/16" width that I need, but by the time I install the dado head, cut a sacrificial fence, and mount it to my saw, I can be half-way done by using this method.
When I'm done I have a neat raddet around all four edges of the panels.

Next I set up the chop saw to cut the mitered edges on the tray rail stock.  The backer board is something I keep for easy set-up when I make these tables.  It serves to eliminate tear-out while cutting the miters, and is marked for precicely the right length of long and shore rails. 
This will work great for Jeffreys tables, but Shelly's are considerably larger, so my standard measurement go out the window and I break out the calculator to use relational fractions to determine what the proper lengths should be for those.  Then I'll cut another backer board and mark those dimensions on it. 
I'll cut a test set, fit them to the panel and see how they fit.  If adjustments are needed, make them.  When the fit is right, cut all the rest to the same dimensions.
As I cut rails I fit them to the panels.  I like to set the dimensions so the rails are about 1/16" too long.  I can trim the excess of easily, but have a little extra in case anything went amis in making the panels.

The day is done, and all eight table tops are cut and fitted,  Tomorrow I will prep them for gluing and begin assembling them into table tops.

Thanks for reading!

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