Ming Inspiration (13)

I hope the New Year is treating you well. Welcome to the 13th post in a series describing the build of a dining table.

The subject of today’s post is the central rail of the table, a component akin to a spinal column. It will eventually have other ‘ribs’ attached to it! First though, a bit of cuttin’ needs to occur. With the ‘T’-form portion on the top of the rail cut out already, I now move on to profiling the underside of the piece, the aim being to physically lighten it. I think the removal of material on the mid-section of the rail’s underside does present a pleasing appearance too – visually lightening it – however one would need go sit down on the floor to see that particular detail in the completed table.

Here’s a view of one end of the rail, the piece being upside-down:

This is the template that I used to produce the shape, a template which also doubles in function as it in used to produce the lightening holes in the side of the rail:

A bit more work was required to produce the template so that I could start work on those lightening holes:

I first used the template to trace out the outlines of the lightening holes on the rail, then spent a good hour on the drill press removing most of the waste:

Then it was time to clean up the holes – well, I guess they are slots really – a process which took a few steps:

The finished slots flare outwards, a detail not shown on the drawing in the previous post:

Here’s the central rail then with all the lightening slots complete:

I was really surprised later on when I compared the weight of the milled-out center rail with a piece of bubinga stock of comparable overall size and discovered that all those chips sprayed on the floor had really cut quite a lot of weight from the piece. It was astonishing! Mission accomplished as far as that portion of the work on this piece goes.

Next, I fired up the hollow chisel mortiser and processed the mortises for the battens which attach to the central rail:

The result of the, er, ‘holey’ work is now clear – along with a smaller mortise lower down which is for the hiyodori-sen (a type of fixing pin):

These mortises are still in the roughed-out stage at this point, and there will be a housing cut around those just-mortised openings soon enough.

Stepping back a bit, one can see all 7 of the mortises just completed:

Then it was time for a little Sawing for Teens® (the January Invitational Tournament is coming up I do believe) as I tackled the tusk tenon cut out on the ends of the central rail:

More sawin’ frenzy:

Not done quite yet:

Out come some chisels:

Even the kote nomi saw some action:

The tusk tenons are now about half-way along, and the ‘T’ slot is 95% there:

The exposed portion of the rail in the table top, namely the top bar of the ‘T’, will terminate in the short side frame rails of the table with sword tip miters, a detail I only just added to the piece. That’s the great advantage of design and build- I can revisit the design over and over again as I build and consider the piece and as things unfold, adding new refinements and subtle alterations as the work progresses onward. The continuous feedback loop I describe is a great benefit, something lost to those who only design things or those who only make other people’s designs.

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way today. Next time, more than likely, it will be time to revisit the ‘X Marks the Spot‘ series. Until then, be well. –> on to post 14

7 Replies to “Ming Inspiration (13)”

  1. Chris you have incredible talent. The patience to really see something beautiful to the end. I look forward to reading future blogs. I am a carpenter out of Ontario and recently started a blog. carpentry4u.blogspot.com. Check it out

  2. Chris,

    thanks for your comment, however I am not sure I am comfortable with the term 'talented', which suggests a special natural ability or aptitude. I work hard at this, and continually drive to learn and develop. Very much a work in progress. All the best with your blogging!


    again, your encouragement is most gratifying.


  3. Chris,
    Are you planning to square the cut-out corners? If not, what's your strategy for prepping the curved corners for finish? Seems like it would be a challenging shape/position to scrape, especially in such a hard wood.

  4. Sorry, I realize now the subject of my comment was unclear. I was referring to the weight saving slots. I understand they are flared outward, so I am wondering if you plan to square the currently rounded corners of the flared sides. Does that make sense?

Anything to add?

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