Tréteau XXIX

It’s good to sit down at the keyboard after a full day working on the sawhorse project. Now, I know, I know, there’s no shortage of people who will tell me that they could build a sawhorse in a few hours so what am I wasting my time on?! Just slow I guess….

Today’s work comprised the final stage in the frame joinery cut out on this 19 century French puzzle – the cutting of the mortises for the interior x-braces. I used a jig and my router to rough out the mortises, and then trimmed them to the line with various chisels. Here’s the result, showing a pair of upper mortises and a couple of lower mortises:

A close up:

These mortises are compound sloped, blind and tapered, and turned out to be a good fit to the interior brace tenons.

With the mortises done in a couple of hours work, I commenced the fitting of each pair of lapped interior braces:

As the tenon pairs with their barbes got closer to their destinations, I kerfed each barbe interior surface to the face:

And then kerfed the tenon shoulder to the adjacent face:

The result:

Here’s another one – on the uphill side, getting pretty close, another kerfing and it will be there:

After each side was independently fitted, I did a trial assembly of each subsection of x-braces to their respective long braces:

Once both sides were done, it was time to do an assembly. This proved to be one of the most difficult things to assemble I have ever dealt with, as so many parts have to engage together at once. With enough patience and eye-balling, it was a matter of a little bit here and a little bit there, tap-tap, nudge-nudge:

Here all the parts are in play, and I’m working things down and together:

I gotta say, after all these months, it is really good to see this picture at long last:

Here I’m trying to show how the 4 different sets of short side braces all intersect at the exact same height:

It looks like the right hand leg in the above picture could sit a little further down, but I could care less at this point. I’ll fiddle some more with it tomorrow.

I then placed a stick, one of the long braces that went by the wayside in the build, inside the frame to check how well aligned the brace sets were, and to my satisfaction the stick sat exactly upon all four intersection points at once with no rocking – I was a little surprised actually:

How about a few more pictures?

Wow. That was a saga! I have learned a lot through the process, and hope to spring onward to new challenges from this point on. Thanks to you, the reader, for hanging in there with me too!

The sawhorse isn’t quite complete yet – I need to spend a little time fiddling the fit a bit more, and then assemble it for a final time, with glue and wedges in some of the tenons. Then I will fit a 3/4″ sacrificial cap, possibly of mahogany (I’m not quite sure yet what material I will choose), with sliding dovetail keys and a transverse capture pin somewhat like my other sawhorse. Those steps will be covered in the next (and final) post in this series. Thanks for coming by today – I think I’ll go and have a beer!

–> Go to post 30

13 Replies to “Tréteau XXIX”

  1. Your comments are most kind gentlemen.

    I do want to say, despite the positive comments about the joinery, that as far as I'm concerned, and as I said at the outset of this build thread, the project was really all about the layout. In fact, as far as the joinery is concerned, while the fits are decent enough in most cases, the overall design of the joints leaves something to be desired in my view, and were I to make something of similar form again, I would be thinking about arranging things so as to improve the joinery. I prefer, for example, that ideally the joints be configured so the piece can be taken apart readily. Second best is that the joints can all be positively fixed without glue. In this case, some of the joints are blind and I'm thinking I will not be wanting to disassemble such a complex mass of parts in the future so I'll be wedging what joints I can (about half of them I believe) and using epoxy for the rest. So, that's a compromise for sure, and in the scheme of things, considering that the point was to learn something about a French traditional layout technique, the shortcomings of the joinery are not much of a concern for me in this case.


  2. I can certainly agree that your greatest effort with this project was the conception/design/layout. But, seeing it a fait accompli, it remains awe inspiring just in the complexity of the joinery (and assembly) involved.
    Thank goodness saw horses don't have to be built to such a standard to be useful (albeit, the simple ones have little to teach about layout or carpentry skills).
    Great job.


  3. Nice saw horse Chris. Looks like the one from Mazerolle. The most important part of the project is the drawing, how long did it take you to do the epure? where's pictures of the drawing for this saw horse, or 'un treteau a devers'.

    I hope you didn't cheat and use modern methods……. 😉


  4. Pat,

    thanks for the comment. I suggest you read the series from the beginning – the above was post 29 – and you'll see what went into it. It started with the French 'Connection' series in March of 2009


  5. The saw horse looks great! I checked out the blog since the beginning. Impressively done!

    I'm glad your deciphering the French layout system. I wish there would be more guys like you out there. Good job with it though. I'm sure it's difficult when you're self-learning. That being said, you're doing a fantastic job!

    Cheers! and nice job!


    P.S. I didn't see any actual drawings for it though……

  6. Pat,

    If you mean drawings laid out full scale on paper, I didn't do that, but it is no different a process than drawing the parts in 2DCAD, save for the tools used. I didn't have the room or a flat surface at the time, as I was working in the kitchen of my house. A rental. I did the drawings on the computer in 2D, and then in 3D. Then I took bevel gauges and set them to angles, and took the measurements off of the drawing that way. It worked fine.


  7. Chris,

    That's very true, drawing them out in 2D cad or by hand should, theoretically, be the same. Either way in the end the project looks great! How many hours in total did it take? I'd love to see it in real life.



  8. Thanks Pat. I seem to recall the drawing work occupied me for 1100 hours and the making another 400 hours, something like that. I used it in my shop every day.


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