Today’s light schedule of about a half day in the shop turned into eight hours, and things went very well I thought. This thread describes the design and construction of a dining table which draws inspiration, constructionally and aesthetically, from a unique Ming-era side table.
My god! How long have I been working on this?! Best not to think about it… ah, it’s been a sweet journey so far, and an opportunity to make a table I’ve been thinking about for many years.
Yesterday was a milestone as the table stood on its own four feet for the first time. Today’s task was to fit the Giant’s Arm Braces, banwancheng as they are termed in Mandarin. I took a bunch of photos, and I think I’ll just post a bunch of photos as well, as no one seems to be complaining, not yet at least, about too many photos.
This morning began with the completion of the simple routing jig I used to cut the tapered sliding dovetails which attach the braces to the central rail of the table. Once the jig was designed and built, I made some test cuts in a piece of bubinga, then made any necessary adjustments, until I produced a dovetail mortise. At first the brace dovetail male just barely enters the mortise:
Then I fitted the leg and brace as a pair, checked the alignment and perpendicularity of the leg, and scribed the location of the dovetail. This location, miraculously, coincided with mathematically-determined layout lines shown in the previous post.
Then it was time to put the new jig to work.
I turned the table on its side and clamped the jig into place. Then, step 1 takes place, guest starring the Porter Cable 310 trim router:
Stepping back for a view of the assembly sitting in position at long last:
The banwancheng are fixed in place, in this table, by a technique of cross splining, hiyodori-sen, that I shamelessly pilfer from the repertoire of Japanese timber frame joinery. The mortise is not the easiest to cut as it travels at a compound angle. Here’s some chisel work during that process:
And here’s a view through the three mortises for the hiyodori-sen, one mortise in the central rail and a mortise in each brace. The sen will consist of a pair of opposed wedges (one of two ways of doing hiyodori-sen) which expand in the slot when driven against one another, forming a very rigid connection:
I feel that this perhaps novel joinery solution for the attachment of the Giant’s Arm braces offers some improvement upon the classic Chinese joinery solution, which involves attaching the upper end of the banwancheng to a table top cross batten with a shoulder abutment, then affixing it simply in place with a bamboo peg. I think my solution for this portion of the table is decidedly stronger than that method, adds considerable lateral rigidity, transfers loads to the central rail (which is itself aligned more efficiently for the load path), plus the braces transfer loading to one another via end grain abutment, and, finally, the whole affair is easily demounted and remounted. I think it will look nice too! I can’t help but wonder how many other tables have ever been built employing hiyodori sen? If any readers come across one, please let me know.
I’m not sure what material I’ll use to make the hiyodori-sen – possibly bubinga or maybe the ebony.
Here’s another angle on the completed assembly at one end of the table:
All for today – more pictures tomorrow, so I hope you’ll check in then. I managed to complete all the brace joinery today, but 23 pictures seems like enough for one posting. Thanks so much for coming by today. –> go to post 40