Thursday, April 5, 2018

Colgate EALL (3)

Have been working on the stock for the plant-on posts the past few days, and those are now fully dimensioned and finish planed, with just a few steps remaining. No pics though - sorry!

Today I'd like to share a bit about working on the benches for the Japanese room, the particular task needing completion being that of tenoning the leg stock. There are sixteen legs, and the tenons are 4.125" (105mm) deep, so this was a perfect task for my shaper and one of the two large tenoning heads I have in the, uh, vault.

The first step towards tenoning was to take the machine out of its current configuration with 1.25" spindle and fence mounted. I thought it might be of interest to some readers to show the steps in getting the machine ready for tenoning, followed by some tenoning work. So, here's a short video, sans narration and background music:

Not shown in the video is that once the machine was set, I placed a piece of scrap off-cut of the leg stock, and did a test cut to see how the tenon thickness came out:

The first pass by the post left a tenon which was too fat.

The tenoning head was disassembled, in place on the spindle, and some shims were removed.

The next test cut got me to the target of 5/8" - it's nice when you get there in one move:

All that remained was then to adjust the spindle height until the tenon was centered, and then to adjust the depth stop so as to produce a tenon of the required length.

The nature of shaper work in general is this: after a couple of hours of set up, the parts are processed in a matter of minutes. It's worth it when many parts are involved, though it is hard to say at what number of parts exactly one might select the shaper option versus other methods.

These tenons are also set back a little on each of the narrow faces, so, after using the sliding table saw to crosscut the narrow faces of the tenons a slight amount, I rough cut the tenons to width on the bandsaw:

Then a router table set up using the old model of Jessem Mitr-slide (cross-cut fence) in a fixed position, got the tenon width to the mark in short order. Here the cut is started:

The cut finishes once the part meets the fence, followed by a quick lateral motion of the sliding fence to clean the shoulder:

Sixteen tenons are thereby done, save for entry chamfers:

Love that shaper!

All for this round - thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. Post 4 follows.


  1. The shaper video is interesting. That’s a surprisingly labor-intensive switchover process. I now have visions of a Transformers movie where Optimus Prime, in truck form, stops on the road two minutes in. A pit crew gets out and starts disassembling and rearranging stuff. Another truck pulls up with extra parts. Two hours later he gets up and walks off screen. FIN. ;-)

    More seriously, I’m curious how blow-out on the shaper tenoning pass is handled? It doesn’t look like you’ve got any backing material in place. Is that simply cleaned up in a later pass, e.g. on the router table?

  2. Thanks for the comment john.

    as far as taming blow out on the back of the cut, I use the test piece to calibrate the cut, after ripping it into two and planing each half to the same width, as a sacrificial piece behind the stock. if you look at the very end of the video, where I put in the 16th stick, shape it and remove it, you should see those woods backers in behind the piece when it is removed.

    1. Of course, thanks. I’m not sure how I missed that on the first viewing. I also note what looks like a depth stop rod for the workpiece. It’s nice to see the tenoning setup in action, particularly this hindsight-obvious application of shaper insert tooling.

  3. Nothing says serious machining like a big tenon cutting wheel in a shaper! Everything about that machine just oozes quality.
    The cut quality is impressive too. If I'd have to make a hundred of tenons, the shaper would be my tool of choice.

    OTOH, I recently saw a clever little router jig made from a plate of plexiglass and some scrap wood on youtube. It was a pretty quick way to make (most of) a mortise and tenon. I couldn't see if the cut quality is up to that of the shaper, but it looked decent. For anything up to a dozen or so pieces that would seem like the way to go for me.

  4. That is one awesome shaper-thinger, very interesting. Nicely done Chris.

    1. I only wish I could keep the machine more occupied. It sits so much sometimes I consider selling it, but when I use it for something I am sure it would be just crazy to sell it. This oscillation has been going on for some time now...


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