Monday, February 28, 2011

Ming Inspiration (46)

My "day off" yesterday was actually 6 hours of SAT tutoring, but I was at least able to take a physical rest for a day. Today's work, which I had envisioned as being only about half a day's worth of stuff to do, was not actually completed in the 9 hours I put in. Oh well.

I spent most of the day with chisel and hammer, working on the stub portions of the central rail and main aprons and forming them into male dovetails. This began with some simple transferring of lines off of the battens:

Layout done, on to the ch-ch-ch-chiseling:

And more chiseling to hollow out under the central rail's raised 'T'-form rib:

More of same:

One side of one dovetail is then completed:

Let's see, 10 battens with dovetails on each end, two sides to work...that's 40 sections to deal with. Naturally, I started getting almost into mass production maneuvers with the chop out:

Keep the same tool in your hand and do as much as you can with it before putting it down - it's a minor efficiency I guess.

After a while, the dovetail tenons were processed on both sides of the central rail:

Then it was time to fit the battens to the long aprons and work the associated male stubs into dovetail tenons:

As before, layout is step one:

Then more ch-ch-choppin':

After clean out, the dovetailed stub is defined:

So all that chisel work took most of the day, and in the end the work was completed.

I then moved onto the tricky matter of cutting dovetail mortises on the underside of the table top panels. These mortises match some additional dovetail tenons that are arranged along the long rails in between the batten locations. In total, each long rail has 13 dovetail stub tenons, about one every 7.5", to secure the table top down to the apron's edge.

I set up the same jig I had made to cut the dovetail slots on the underside of the table panels, offsetting it to the middle position between the already-cut slots:

Of course, some careful layout and double-checking preceded any router work.

After a while, the dovetail mortises were roughed out on one panel:

Another view:

And not so long after, the second panel was through to the same stage:

That's where things ended up when it went dark and I decided to pack it in. Tomorrow I'll complete those dovetail mortises and then find some means to transcribe their locations to the aprons and cut the remaining dovetail males. Then I will trim the mitered returns and form tongue on them, and do a bit of test fitting. All being well, I should be able to have the panels fitted to the table frame by the end of the day. We'll see what happens.

Thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. --> on to post 47


  1. Hi Chris,
    Routing those panels makes me cringe with apprehension way over here. So many things could go wrong... especially the larger and more irreplaceable the piece is. No stress, no success. You are on the downhill side now.

    Looking at this project in two dimensions makes it a bit difficult to imagine the assembly procedure. At this point, I can't say which two pieces should go together first.

    Harlan Barnhart

    1. Harlan,

      your comments are always greatly appreciated, if not responded to promptly!



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