End Table

This small end table I am making is a shaker inspired design with some artistic liberties of my own. Instead of a simple tapered leg, I decided to take a more technical route on the jointer and made them of a Hepplewhite design. Instead of having one 10" standard drawer, I am going with two small drawers that will be flush with the front apron. The table will be 30" tall with a 17" x 17" table top. The wood is white oak.

Here is the original design:

The first step was to dimension the white oak. Because the lumber was 4/4 (roughly milled to 1") I planed it down to 3/4" to get a nice flat surface on all sides. Because this final thickness is 3/4" and the legs are 1 1/2" thick, I had to glue the wood face to face. Trying to match the grain is not the easiest thing, but careful planning and orientation will allow the best faces to be the visible ones.

Here is what a nicely matched grain looks like:

And here is what the mismatched grain looks like:

After gluing, I then put the Hepplewhite taper on the leg. The technique used to create the design is similar to a standard taper, but leaves a foot at the bottom, which will then need a bit of shaping. To give the table some more upward movement I tapered the outsides of the legs slightly more than the inside legs.

Here is what the legs look like after shaping:


The feet have a little tear-out on them, but they will have a slight taper added to them which should eliminate that unsightly tear-out.


After shaping the legs is was time to put some mortises in that the tenons I will make on the aprons 
will fit into. The first step to making the mortises was to measure and mark the placement. One I set my marking gauge to the proper measurement, I could repeat the measurements to all of the legs. 


Then with a properly adjusted fence on a drill press I could drill a line of holes the width and length of the mortise.


Next, I took a chisel to the outside of the line of holes to make a rectangular profile for the mortise.


I could then (with a lot of practicechisel out all of the waste to make a clean mortise. 



Now for the tenons at the ends of the aprons to fit into these mortises.

The first step it to mark out the shape of the tenon and the cuts to make:

After marking, it was time to do some cutting. For tenons, I like to cut the shoulders first, which means starting out with my crosscut saw.

After the shoulders are cut, time to switch to my rip saw and cut down the cheeks.

I cut everything a little short here to illustrate the cuts made to shape a tenon:

A few more saw strokes, and a tenon is born:

I do not have a shoulder plane, so I do some neatening up of the tenon by taking my router plane to the sides of the cheeks, and a chisel and a square to cut the shoulders even. When all goes right, the apron fits into the leg like so:

Due to a lot of work being done away from my camera, a few steps have been skipped.
I cut a rectangle out of an apron to create the front face. I kept the cutout to use as a drawer front so that the grain will match.
A dovetail dado was cut into the front and back aprons at the width of the drawer opening.
The tail of the dovetail was routed at the ends of some oak the length of the table.
I then glued the aprons into the legs.
When the glue dried, I then slid my dovetailed boards into their trenches to create walls for the drawer.
Using the same dovetailing technique, I put in a piece down the center that's bottom is below the drawer front to guide the drawer.

The tops of the dovetailed pieces:

Here is how The frame looks from the front:
 -notice how flush the wall is with the side of the drawer opening.

Moving on to the drawer, I started with the drawer front that I had already cut out from the front apron, and cut myself some sides and a back. Using a router jig, I cut some through dovetails to construct the basic box of my drawer. I also cut a mortise in the front of the drawer to accommodate a hand carved knob. The back got a notch taken out of the top to ride the slide on the table frame.

I wanted a drawer bottom that was solid wood, so I made my drawer have a solid wood bottom. Plywood is used a lot for drawer bottom's because of it's stability. I feel that plywood is impersonal, and the rattle it has sounds cheap and flimsy. A solid wood bottom takes more work, but is more intimate, and makes a delightful sound. To deal with the expansion of the solid drawer bottom, I used a technique I saw in "a Cabinetmaker's Notebook" by James Krenov. The key is using a horizontal grain to allow the drawer bottom to expand out the exposed back of the drawer instead of busting the sides out.

First a half inch thick piece of oak was cut to fit into the drawer. I then coved the ends to fit into a slot in the drawer sides and back.

To fit the coving, I carved a rounded edge on the slot in the drawer's sides and face.

Using a small block plane and chisel, I carved a small rectangular knob for my drawer. I have seen many round knobs put on rectangular tables and it never made sense to me destroying the continuity, so I made my knob rectangular. The work on the knob was so hands on that my hands started to react with the tannens in the oak, and stained by knob a dark purple color. As I continue to work on the table, more and more places this odd chemical reaction happens, and gives the wood some real character.



I couldn't be happier with the fit my drawer has:



I mentioned the continuity of rectangles, and sticking with that theme of geometric angles, I chamfered the bottom of my table top instead of coving it.


When everything falls into place, it looks a little something like this:


Now I must smooth down every surface with my plane, especially that tear-out you can see near the back corner of the top.








 












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