Ming Inspiration (19)

Back to the fun, thrills and spills with the bubinga dining table, a piece based on a unique frame and panel system found in a Ming-period side table.

Last time, I had dragged the groover, a timber framing power tool of mine, out into the light and used it to clean up some of the waste from the back of the frame aprons. This post continues on with the documentation of that process – the next step was to rout the entire surface down clean and level:

To do all the aprons took most of the morning, a veritable routing frenzy – wood rat heaven. Then I used the bandsaw to trim the remaining edges away from the back of the aprons:

The four aprons now thinned down, I could start working on some joinery. First up was the tusk tenon mortises for the central rail connection to the short side aprons, a cut I commenced with the drill press:

I used the router to plow through to the face side:

Then some chisel work to clean up:

The completed mortise is about 5 thou undersize to the 3/8″ tenon (one reason for my choice to drill and rout rather then use the existing .3750″ hollow chisel mortise bit):

Along with the paring work came periodic checks with the combo square to ensure that the end grain walls were square to the faces:

Mortising complete on both aprons:

The back side of the same two pieces also shows the effect of removing material, the ‘thinning out’ mentioned a few paragraphs above:

The mortises were just the start of the process of course – next came the sloped housings, a chance for the trim router to see some action:

Once the routing was complete, a little chisel work was needed to fully define the cut out:

Next up was rebating the short aprons to accommodate the tongue and groove for the table top panels. After fiddling the set up on the shaper for a while, away I went:

The first step in the process is complete:

If you’re fussy with the set up, the shaper can do fairly accurate work – here I’m 2 thou from the target depth of 0.500″ for the rebate:

And the last picture today shows the marking out for the next steps in the cut out of the tusk tenon mortises:

More to come!

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way today my friends. –> on to post 20

5 Replies to “Ming Inspiration (19)”

  1. Bubinga…some hard shat! You must be a glutton for punishment, Chris!
    Good to read you, been wondering what you are up to.


  2. Hey Dennis,

    nice to hear from you! Definitely, bubinga is damn hard, and also has a curious 'sticky' surface quality, a bit like Pacific Yew. I've never worked Zitan, but I heard that it has a similar characteristic of being extremely dense and having a surface with a little sticky quality – perhaps that's why the Japanese are calling bubinga 'African Zitan' (?)


  3. Chris,

    Do you do all your layout with pencil only (discounting for the sharpie labeling and waste markings)? I did a search of the blog for “marking knife” and I think only six hits came up, only several of which you described scribing layout lines. I'm still pretty new to furniture making and have learned what I know largely through reading/watching books, magazines, and the internet. Most of the sources I've found recommend layout using a knife, which I've found to be very helpful, for the reason that you get a nice precise line to inset chisels, saws, and other cutting edges.

    If you do generally use a pencil only, how are you so accurate in locating your chisels for cutting and final paring work?


  4. Evan,

    the choice to use a marking knife or not depends upon a number of factors. If the mortise is entirely hand cut, i will mark all sidewalls with knife and marking gauge. If the mortise sidewalls are cleaned to dimension using a router, then typically the router fence , or a template, guides the cutting and there is no need to mark the sidewalls. to pare the end walls, I knife line can be used, however i guide the cut off of a metal paring guide block (often a machinist's 1-2-3 block) and thus do not strictly need a knifed line.


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