Ming Inspiration (23)

Rolling right along with this multi-part thread describing the design and construction of a frame and panel dining table drawing its inspiration from a Ming Chinese side table.

In the last post, I had commenced showing one of the apron frame joints coming together. Let’s continue on with that process then:

Front side:

As the joint drew tighter, I had to disassemble it a couple of times to make slight adjustments with a chisel to ease the fit. The fit is very close however, so I only needed to make a few minor tweaks.

Almost there now:

And yes, the short side apron to the right is supposed to have a bit sticking up higher than the long side apron on the left.

The separately cut slots on each piece for the shachi sen seem to be aligning well:

Once I had the joint together, I check it out with a framing square:

All was well.

The front face with the joint assembled up:

A little closer in:

And that was how things ended that day, with one of the four apron joints completed*:

Well, not really completed, hence the asterisk. Remeber that there will be a 3-way miter connection with the leg to be incorporated yet, so those joints are only about half-way along in the bigger picture.

I decided to use Gabon ebony for the shachi-sen as I thought bubinga, while plenty hard enough, is a little sticky in surface quality. I have a chunk of ebony intended as a ‘lifetime supply’ sort of thing, and thus when it came time to slice some off the block, the bandsaw was the only choice thanks to its 1 mm. kerf:

I haven’t quite decided yet if the 1/8″ dimension I have chosen for the thickness of these pins is right or not. I might beef it up another 1/32″ or so. For now, 1/8″ thick pins will get me through trial assembly steps so they’ll do fine. I do have room to thicken the pins by up to 1/16″ (about 1mm).

In regards to the apron frame joinery, I spent another half a day or so completing the fitting of the remaining three corners. That done, I could turn to the next task, which is making accommodation on the aprons for the folded mitered tip on the legs. For this task, I made yet another jig:

This jig allows me to rout a very precise 45˚ abutment on the faces of the molded apron sections:

Here’s the result:

I still need to form stub tenon grooves on these 45˚ abutments.

The pair of short aprons have now had these abutments completed on both ends:

The long aprons are next, however I need to do some planing work on the relieved back sections of those pieces so that that they will reference to the jig properly. Once the sun goes down however, the light in the shop is not so good, so I pack things in for the day. Tomorrow will be another day of work on the rails. I have commenced lay out for the batten mortises on the rails, and should have that mortising work completed tomorrow as well. Then I have some joinery work on the top edges of the long rails. So at least two more full days on these rails yet.

Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. –> on to post 24

4 Replies to “Ming Inspiration (23)”

  1. Chris,

    I am just so amazed at how tight the joint is. I noticed pencil marks of the joint layout in the previous blog. How do you get such great joints with pencil marks?

    Thanks for the updates. I am enjoying the process.


  2. Hi Phil,

    thanks for posting your comment. As for how I get the joints to fit, well, I have practiced a bit I guess. It's sort of an additive process of lots of minor details done with attention.


  3. Chris,

    Given that you seem to have cut your shachi-sen pins (does shachi-sen include the concept of “pin?”) out of your 'lifetime supply' of ebony, does that decrease your willingness to make the mortises larger in the future?

    This is quite a project (and yes, I do realize it's now 2017 and this was written in 2011. Please forgive my curiosity).


  4. Evan,

    the word 'sen' means 'pin'.

    The mortises are sized appropriate to the joint, and that is all. I wouldn't size them down to suit a scarcity of material typically, but would choose another material for the pin.

Anything to add?

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