Fixtures and jigs and clamps, oh my!

For whatever reason, I’ve been in slow motion in this project.  But yesterday I had a couple of solid hours in the shop and made great progress.

The goal for the weekend was to get the leg indents, leg tip rounding, and cloud lift details added to the skirts and stretchers.  There are two ways I could think of doing this, both start with roughing the shape in using a pattern and a saw.  From there it could be chisels and rasps and sandpaper to clean it up, or a router template.  On the sconces I’ve made I used rasps.  This time I decided to use fixtures.

I showed the leg indents yesterday, this is the fixture I used to produce them.  The fixture sits over the leg like a saddle, has a stop block to position the leg, and a spacer to set the leg at a slight angle so the routed cavity has a depth taper.  The leg fits into the fixture which I clamped in my end vise, then I just route the cavity using a 1/2″ bit and a 1″ guide bushing.

Leg fixture for the "blacker indent" and template for the pillowing of the foot

Leg fixture for the “blacker indent” and template for the pillowing of the foot

Practice leg, good thing I had screwed one up earlier so I could use it to dial in the process.

Practice leg, good thing I had screwed one up earlier so I could use it to dial in the process.

Next up were the skirts and stretchers.  It took some head scratching to figure out how to lay out and machine the fixture.  I ended up using stop blocks and spacers on my tiny router table to cut the details into 3/4″ MDF, then used 1/4″ ply to make the positioning spacers.  The fixture for the stretcher was a little fussier as I had to accommodate shaping two sides of the stretcher.

Skirt fixture

Skirt fixture

Two-sided stretcher fixture

Two-sided stretcher fixture

To use these fixtures I fit the part, traced the edge of the fixture to the part, removed it and sawed away the waste – just leaving the pencil line.  Then the part goes back in the jig and I used a pattern routing bit to machine the final contour into the part.  I was careful to make sure I had the parts properly oriented, it would have sucked to cut the detail into the wrong edge of a part!

In the end, it worked out fabulously.  Making the fixtures took twice as much time as producing the details, but the overall time was faster than a hand-tool-only approach.  And the results are more consistent, because of the interplay between the skirt and stretcher any little deviations would be more apparent.

One skirt and it's corresponding stretcher finished

One skirt and it’s corresponding stretcher finished

I test assemble the table to see how it looks, and to verify that I did everything right so far.  Looks good to my eye.

Table base test assembled

Table base test assembled

I also mocked up the top.  It needs to be trimmed and breadboard ends added, but this is roughly the finished proportions.

Mockup with incomplete top...and lots of missing details

Mockup with incomplete top…and lots of missing details

Unfortunately the only piece of Sapele I have left is a 14″ wide 8 foot board, I don’t want to cut that up to make the 2″ side breadboard ends.  And the wood store is closed today.  I’m a little unsure what to do next.  Sanding the parts is obvious, but not a lot of fun.  The next “big deal” is the silver and abalone inlay, and I’m really nervous about that.  I don’t have enough materials for that part of the job either (unfortunately? fortunately?), but I probably have enough to do a practice part.  That might be a good goal for today.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Fixtures and jigs and clamps, oh my!

  1. JR

    Looking good–and as I said before, a very nice design. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Seems like a waste not having at least one drawer on this table.

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