Ming Inspiration (12)

This is another post in a series on the design and construction of a dining table patterned on a Ming Dynasty piece. I am trying to work within Chinese traditional work practices, in terms of a minimal use of glue and pegs, and no lathe-turned pieces.

I keep revisiting the original drawing and tweaking details here and there. Decisions involving outcomes which affect aesthetics are made in conference with the client, while more minor structural detail changes and other technical nuance shifts I tend to do on what one could call an ‘executive’ basis.

I thought I’d share a couple of those minor changes. First of all, in order to reduce the weight of the table where I can, while retaining strength, I have re-designed the central beam somewhat:

The beam now has a slight lift in the middle by removing a portion of the underside, and a series of hollows are now incorporated. These hollows allow me to shave weight while retaining the structural logic of the ‘I‘-beam. In the middle of the beam between hollows a 1/2″ web is retained.

I also revised the connection between the giant’s arm braces and the central rib, to improve the strength of the connection and clean up the appearance from how I had it configured earlier:

The mortise housings where the braces meet the center rib have been modified as well, and these alterations shall be apparent soon enough when I process those joints.

I have done some more cutting work on the legs. First I spent about half a day making a jig to hold the legs on a diagonal orientation:

The top plate of the jig has a slotted opening at one end:

The business-end view:

In the above picture I am tightening down on a clamping mechanism which fixes the end of the leg in place and serves as an end-stop reference.

This jig allows me to cut a slot into the leg on a diagonal, first by using a Forstener bit in a drill press and then using a router. The top cover on the jig is removed in the next photo:

Another view:

The stick now removed from the jig:

It took most of the day to work through the steps, but in the end I had all four legs slotted:

The next day I added slots within the slots:

A close up of one of the triple-slotted pieces:

These slots accept the special bars I made a few days back, with some attention given of course to fine tune the fit between the pieces:

A long way to go on the legs yet, but I’m pleased with the outcome out so far. Next time I’ll be working on that central rib again. Stay tuned!

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way today. –> on to post 13

5 thoughts on “Ming Inspiration (12)

  1. Hi Chris,

    I've been reading your blog for a little while now, and have been enjoying tremendously working my way through your build threads. Your work is, as many have said before, phenomenal, and very inspirational. I am doing some design tweaks on a dining table that I'll be building soon and your philosophy on woodworking has been very influential (in a good way!) on my thinking. So thanks for that.

    On to my question, the first of what I'm sure will be many. I hope you don't get sick of them. I was wondering the same thing as Chris in NZ, and my guess was exactly your answer. I am left wondering, how did you square up the bottom of the slots within slots? Knowing what I've learned about your attention to detail, it seems unlikely to me that you would leave them rounded. Maybe you have a very long, narrow chisel? I can't tell the exact dimensions but I would guess the large slot is something like 6″ or 7″ in length, and the small slot width maybe .25″. That would be a pretty unusual chisel I think.

    Evan Muirow

  2. The bottom of the slots are not squared up – the male potion that fits those slots is mitered at the bottom end so as to fit in that area. Hope that makes sense.


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