A top for the table

My goal for today was to get the Thorsen side table more or less constructed today, leaving the finishing to do at the same time as the “Thorsen Cabinet” I’m making.  I think I’m at that point, although I may need to re-make the lower shelf.  More about that in a bit.

Yesterday I got the joinery finished on the breadboard ends for the top.  Picking up from there, the next job was to make all of the “mortises” for the ebony pegs.  I picked up a set of the square punches the Lee Valley sells.  Well, it was a father’s day gift from my wife.  OK, actually my wife forgot to get me anything, so I got them for myself.  So she wouldn’t feel bad.  Right?

Anyway, these are very handy.  They made short work of the Sapele.  When I used them the first time on White Oak they didn’t bite as week as I thought they should, but on Sapele they did the trick without any hesitation.  Not that they didn’t work well on the Oak, it just took a few more hits with the hammer than I expected.  I’m using a pretty light hammer though.

I laid out all of the locations using a story stick to get the spacing even.  I used a marking gauge to find the center of the edges (the breadboard ends are about 1/8″ thicker than the top), and then marked the location with an awl.

I made a story stick to lay out the mortise locations the same on all four sides.

I made a story stick to lay out the mortise locations the same on all four sides.

Then I drilled each pilot hole.  Each punch uses a drill bit that is 3.32″ smaller than the punch size.  With a brad point bit it was simple to drop it in the awl mark and drill about 3/8″ to 1/2″ deep.

Drilling the hole to remove the bulk of the waste

Drilling the hole to remove the bulk of the waste

Then I used the drill to locate the square chisel over the hole.  I used a small square to get the chisel straight, then removed the drill bit and hammered the chisel in.

Align the square punch with the drill bit in the hole and a square on the side

Align the square punch with the drill bit in the hole and a square on the side.  (and yes, I’ll clean up the shoulder by the tenon with a chisel before assembly)

After pulling the square punch out of the hole I use a smaller chisel to break up the waste and clean the bottom of the hole.  It only takes a minute to do one hole – it took longer to write this than to do the holes I think.

Square mortises for the ebony plugs done

Square mortises for the ebony plugs done

The other thing I had to do — which took way longer than the horses — was to shape the ends of the breadboard caps and sand everything smooth.  I started with a 1/8″ round over bit, then 150 grit shop roll and a single cut file.  Then lots of hand sanding to try to get organic-looking contours and make everything feel nice to the touch.  Finally I wet the parts to raise the grain.

Parts drying after being wet down to raise the grain in preparation for dying

Parts drying after being wet down to raise the grain in preparation for dying

I used a little glue in the middle, and screwed through the breadboard end (in the square holes) to hold these together.  I made the screw holes slightly oversized, hopefully enough to allow the wood to move.

Top assembled with screws, glue drying

Top assembled with screws, glue drying

I also notched the corners for the lower shelf and cut a rabbet on the back.  Unfortunately, the lower shelf cupped pretty badly since I made it last weekend.  With the middle sitting flat the ends are at least 3/16″ up off the bench.  I’m hoping it will straighten itself out by laying it on the garage floor overnight.  If not, I’ll have to make another part.

I like how the table looks at this stage, once I get the ebony plugs in and build up some color it should be a nice piece.

Nearly completed table

Nearly completed table

Another view

Another view

I have a boatload of ebony pegs to make, maybe one night this week I can get out in the shop can do that.  Then the stained glass for the Thorsen cabinet, and finish.

 

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3 thoughts on “A top for the table

  1. On the bottom shelf, how are you securing it? Is it possible to flip it 180 so the cup is up and then use your fastening to pull it flat? I’ve had good luck doing this a couple of times. Sometimes the show side gets lost in the flip.

    • I can’t flip it over – there is a rabbet on the back to fit into the rabbet on the top of the stretchers. And the top edge is rounded over too.

      What I did was to spray the face of the board that it was cupping towards with water, then put that face down on the garage floor for a couple of hours. The theory being that it’s uneven moisture that is causing the problem. It straightened out completely.

      Once it straightened I put it back in the table, I’ll see if it stays straight or continues to be weird.

      I realized this morning that I can make the shelf thicker (it’s only 1/2″ thick) because only the top 1/4″ shows anyway. A thicker shelf won’t move as much. Having the temperature fluctuate between 95 and 45 degrees isn’t helping. I’m going to save my pennies and put an air conditioner in the shop.

  2. Joe, the table is looking very much a Greene & Greene piece. With everything in place, those legs are a perfect complement to the aprons. And you were concerned that it wouldn’t look right!!

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