Dark Chocolate and Sponge Cake (25)

I’d like to start by mentioning that when I went into the shop, one of the next steps to tackle was the cutting of the latticed frame and panel unit’s corners for glue-in splines. When considering how to go about this task, several options presented themselves, but most were ruled out. For instance, if I had a blade for my tablesaw which left a flat-bottomed kerf, it would not be hard to put some sort of jig to stand the frame and panel unit on its corners together. No such blade is in my meagre set however, so on to the next option. My router table did not offer a comfortable margin of support for the piece as it was moved through the cut, but of course something could be set up. The Hofmann mortiser has a cutting direction which I think would be preferably avoided and slot cutters used instead to make the cuts as they tend to produce cleaner cuts in this situation.

I have the pattern-maker milling machine, which had been employed previously for this kind of joinery task. One might think if the machine worked the last time, why not automatically employ the same method again? Well, I sometimes like to reconsider my options afresh, to see if there might be a better way to handle a particular operation.

There were numerous advantages to using the milling machine, namely secure work-holding and precise control over most axes of movement, but one disadvantage apparent from the start was that I would have to take the head and ram on the machine and move the works out of alignment with its current alignment to the center of the rotary table, which is also a place where 0.000″ is set on the DRO for X and Y axes.

Here, I’m just eyeballing the situation to se if the milling machine is the way to go again or not, placing the frame and panel assembly on the table and turning it 45˚:

With the table turned at a 45˚ you need to watch that it doesn’t run into the column at some point in the cutting movement, a problem that I failed to anticipate last time. To give ample room, I have swiveled the ram over several degrees to the right.

At the same time my I was looking at the situation with the milling machine, I was also strongly considering using the shaper for this job:

Now, yeah, i get it that I might have more options , equipment-wise than a lot of folks out there, less than some others, and in no way am i intending to rub anyone’s face in that. I’m just looking at the options I have at this juncture. The sliding table on the shaper can be swiveled 45˚ or so to both sides and it offers higher rpm than the milling machine by about double.

Again, if I had certain tooling on hand for the shaper, the decision might have been easy to go with it. A nice pair of 0.1875″ slotting blades mounted on the arbor – makes perfect sense. I was faced also with the prospect however of un-docking the fence assembly, then fitting the router spindle into the machine. Then see if the sliding table would come over far enough towards the spindle as to provide good cut support given the use of a smallish cutter

The shaper was looking like a good way to do it for a while, however, the part support and fixturing capacity of the mill’s work table as compared to the Martin’s was clearly a notch above, and ya gotta go with what tooling you have, with an ever growing lists of ‘wants’ as well being generated.

I decided to go with the milling machine again, trying to bring forward lessons from the first time doing such a task on the mill. Here I have aligned the part to the work table and clamped it in place, and set the cutting depth by eye:

The work table has been fitted with a backing element which also serves to eliminate any spelching which could occur as the cutter exits the material.

A closer look as I have reached a point where I am ready to start cutting:

The various slot cutters I have are by Whiteside and Amana, and range in size from 1/16″ to 0.25″ (6.35mm). I’m often preferring to use the Amana bits these days because they have a bit larger diameter than the Whiteside. And extra cutting wing on the Amana cutters doesn’t seem to hurt their operation either.

The first slot is cut, requiring a 2-step approach as I’m making a 0.125″ slotting bit do the work of the cutter I don’t (yet) own, namely the 0.1875″ slotter.

So, no big deal:take a pass, then reset the depth, take a pass. Repeat back and forth:

With the one position set up, I cut once on each of the four corners, doing therefore half of the slotting. Then I need to reverse the position of the rotary table and reconfigure a few other things for the remaining cuts:

The ram is now swung the other way so I can work off the table corner like that.

Eventually all of the round #2 cuts were done and I had a double-slotted corner joint:

The close-by location of the sliding dovetail mortise on the upper frame rail kept the slot depth on those upper corners a bit shallower than the ones on the bottom corners. They weren’t hugely different depths from one another however.

Eventually the work was completed on all the corners of the latticed frame and panel assemblies:

Another view, this time of the bottom corner with it’s deeper trenches:

For the spline material, I went with something a bit tougher than the Cuban Mahogany, namely Jatoba.

Then it was take a piece of Jatoba and… jointer➝tablesaw➝planer➝tablesaw➝planer to produce some stock, and a simple set up after on the sliding table saw to cut the pieces to the appropriate shape:

Up next, my favorite activity, namely gluing. Things always take a visual low right after the process is complete, but this one was relatively non-stressful:

A little c-clamp action all around gets this panel’s corner joints to the finish line:

Well, ‘finish line’ as such is merely a figure of speech of course. The cut out continues day later by trimming the splines:

After two cuts this is how a corner looks:

Then the splines are trimmed down to the surrounding surface by plane:

One face of one corner thereby done:

The same corner after the opposing faces were cleaned up:

Another corner on the top – the Jatoba blends in pretty seamlessly with the Cuban Mahogany it seems to me:

Next up is the ‘world’ of sliding dovetail keys and their many associated mortises. See you next time and thanks for visiting!