Friday, August 26, 2011

Coffee Anyone? (21)

Post 21 in the line up of episodes for this build series on a coffee table. You can find previous entries in the archive located to the right side of the page.

In the previous post I had pre-assembled a leg and drawbar to a pair of top frame rails, one long side and one short side. I made up two such pairs of assemblies.

The next step was to attach the remaining pair of legs to the stretched octagonal frame of the table shelf, one on each corner, diagonally-opposed to each other. The rubber mallet helped seat them most of the way:

Time for the grand assembly  - the shelf with its two attached legs is positioned in between the pairs of the leg &top frame rail assemblies:

Here's the leg which connects to the top frame rails starting to engage to the mortise on the shelf frame rail:

Meanwhile, the leg attached to the shelf frame is positioned between the top frame rails, like a sandwich:

Again, the clamping cauls come into play:

When the joint got close to being drawn up, I decided, after some consideration (but mostly paranoia), to add a dab of glue to the cross-wise floating stub tenon (not the drawbar, to be clear). I reasoned that in this case the form of joint would be more difficult to disassemble once the pins were driven in, and that the use of a little hide glue satisfied my paranoia about 'the worst that could happen', and could still be steamed and reversed later on if a repair were ever necessary (and the repair-person could figure out how the joint disassembled!). So, I put a dab of glue on a popsicle stick and applied a smear to the floating stub tenon (one side of which was already glued in with hide glue):

One of the guys upstairs of course took his opportunity to razz me a bit about using some glue, about the 'slippery slope' I was embarking upon, and yes, I actually felt slightly chastened for a few moments. But in the end, my goal has always been use glue minimally if at all, and in this case it is indeed minimally, so I feel fine about the 'compromise'.

The cauls were then drawn in to close the joint some more, and I alternated my attention from one end of the table to the other as this process went on:

While the cauls were tightened in alternate fashion, I also gave the legs connecting to the shelf frame a tap with the mallet as they required - this one is now about 1/8" (3mm) from closing:

I repeated the process until everything was drawn tight, then fitted and drive in the 4 shachi sen on each of the remaining two corner joins, just as I showed in the previous post.

Then, a little trimming followed:

Here's a look at the top of one of the corner joins - you can see a little rub mark or two from the cauls on the front edge of the profile:

A view of the inside of the same corner - a little attention is needed in that blobby area on top of the curve of the leg where the frame rails meet:

The joins of the legs to the frame rails came up tightly as well:

Another corner (with apologies to Adam Macer for this run of photos):

Panning back a little:

It's alive!:

A look at the join of the shelf to the leg, and the shelf's mitered locking joint:

A glimpse underneath, with a little re-oiling soon to come:

Final step in assembly was to drive in four pegs, komi-sen, to fix the four legs and their attached drawbar tenons to the shelf frame, using a bubinga scrap as a drift pin:

After the first pin went in a bit slowly and with more force than I would like, I decided to lubricate the next three pins with camellia oil to facilitate their fitting. That worked like a charm. Once the pins were in, I trimmed them flush and cleaned up the surface:

Another corner miter:

Any paranoia I had been experiencing about the integrity of the corner joints had dissipated completely as a result of driving the four shachi sen into place at the corners - the force of the joint being drawn tight was sufficient to force any residual hide glue up and out the top of the joints. They're very strongly connected, completely tight all around, and I really could have dispensed with the glue dab. Live and learn.

Did I mention? - It's alive!:

And next on my rapidly shortening 'to-do' list were the leveler feet. These I fabricated on a wood lathe and with aid of a sliding chop saw:

In tomorrow's post I'll show the installation of these pads and some more photos of the nearly-completed piece. I'm very happy with the way this table has turned out!

Thanks for coming by.


  1. Congrats Chris, another well executed design. I especially like your solution for the upper leg attachments. There is a lot going on there and yet you have enough "meat" in the joinery to make it solid. If your projects don't have a "crisis moment" when you aren't sure if it will work, then you aren't trying hard enough.


  2. Thanks so much for taking the time to show the step by step. It's fascinating to watch it all come together and see the joints as they are set.



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