Ming Inspiration (38)

Today we had heavy winds and the power was knocked out for several hours in the afternoon, so it is a bit late in the day for the blog to post up – midnight already. Hopefully there won’t be too many typos!

Right back to it – the next step in the process was to profile the front faces of the legs. I made up a simple jig to allow me to use the router to remove most of the waste material:

Since the faces of the legs are tapering downward from a point about 10″ down from their upper ends, two diffenent set-up positions were required to do each face. It took about 30 minutes to construct the jig, another 20 to set it up and test it out, and then about an hour to process the faces.

The roughing-out on the legs all done, I could then do some planing:

And more fitting – today I spent nearly 4 hours fitting the legs to the corner joins:

At one point, I had all four legs attached, so I couldn’t resist turning the table on this project:

It’s alive!:

As part of today’s extended fit-a-thon, the feeler gauges, uh, made their presence felt:

This one is getting pretty close now, and once the apron corners are secured with the shachi sen, which will draw the corner of the frame tighter together, the slight opening will disappear:

Next step is to start fitting the Giant’s Arm braces, a move I expect to be a bit tricky:

It was a matter of getting the leg at the correct height, the brace locked up into place in the leg’s slot, and the dovetail on the upper end of the brace was to my relief hovering in the correct location:

For a while I thought I was missing a drawing and would need to put off further progress until I had checked some numbers on my computer at home, and then I realized it was a rather simple math problem to solve. Once that was done, I managed to lay out the intersection points of the Giant’s Arm braces and the central rail:

I had to take pains to ensure that the leg in question was in the correct position, depth, and was perpendicular to the table frame:

With everything set, it looked like the brace was going to fit to the laid out location, so I set about making a jig to process the tapered sliding dovetail mortises:

That’s where things more or less finished off today. Actually the camera ran out of battery juice. I have started making some test cuts in scrap as part of the calibration of the jig. Tomorrow is Sunday, so I’ll spend about half a day in the shop and expect to be able to complete the fitting of the braces. The camera battery is charging presently.

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way. I much appreciate all the comments received in the past week! –> on to post 39

6 thoughts on “Ming Inspiration (38)

  1. Chris, I added you to my google reader and have been following since Dale from DJO mentioned you. Your work is insanely incredible!! Thanks for taking the time to post!

  2. Hi Chris, your table is looking good. Yesterday I spent the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. I specifically looked up the Chinese furniture and was pleased to see several nice Ming era pieces. They have a couch built with the same joinery and similar lines and proportions as your table. Thanks to your blog, I had a better idea of the craftsmanship of the pieces.

    Harlan Barnhart

  3. Vic, that's really most kind of you, and I'm feeling very glad to know that you're enjoying this blog. Cheers!


    I've also seen the Ming furniture at the Met, and they do indeed have a fine collection (among many many wonders!). I'm pleased that you have developed an interest in this furniture since reading about my enthusiasm for it here on Carpentry Way. By 'couch', I presume you are referring to a daybed?

    Speaking of beds, one day I'd love to have the chance to make a Ming Canopy bed! oh man….


  4. Chris, I don't know the fine distinctions between couch and daybed but it was labeled a “couch”. It was certainly long and wide enough for sleeping and the top was covered with woven, fiber mat(I wanted to peek beneath to see how the top was constructed). It also had a perimeter board, 4 to 5 inches high on three sides.

    There were also two other “scroll tables” from the same era that I didn't get to examine because my wife was getting restless.

    Can I convince you that you need to see that collection again? I LOVE to visit again with someone who has some expertise.

    Harlan Barnhart

  5. Harlan,

    yes, that sounds like what the Chinese furniture texts term a 'daybed', however 'couch' is not an unreasonable translation at all.

    I'd love to visit the Big Apple again – do you live there or close by?


  6. Chris, I live in Queens so the Met is in my backyard. If you ever feel the need to visit the Met again, give me a call, I would make it priority.

    Harlan Barnhart
    718 261-9158

Anything to add?