Ming Inspiration (49)

I was thinking I might just about get some oil on today, but not quite. Tomorrow is the day for that. Today was picking up a lot of loose ends and tidying up various details.

First off, I decided to trim the protruding through tenons from the central rail back – a 1/16″ projection seemed about right. If the through tenons were trimmed flush there would be a time of the year when the apron would swell in thickness and leave the tenon end recessed, and the sharp edges of the mortise opening might get damaged – or damage someone. With a slight projection of the tenon, the apron can move in and out and things look fairly consistent.

I grabbed a 1/16″ gauging block and used it to guide some knife work around the tenon:

Then I remembered the melamine i had used yesterday – it was 1/16″ thick, and would be perfect as a support strip for planing the tenon end down. So i taped the strip onto the face of the apron, sharpened up my Mosaku 54mm, and went to work:

Here’s one end completed:

And here’s the other:

Maybe I should leave the melamine strips there for decorative effect?

I later touched the arrises of the tenons with a smoothing file to knock down any sharpness.

Next I wanted to mark the locations on the battens with rod tenons for the fixing pegs, komi sen. I started by clamping across a batten set to ensure that the battens were fully seated in the central rail mortises, and into one another:

Then I used a hollow chisel to transfer the pin locations from mortise to tenons, a step repeated on both sides of the mortised batten:

I followed that up with more of the same, marking out the mortise locations for the pegs securing the central rail to the short aprons:

These mortises are rectangular, so two transfer taps were required, shifting the chisel over between steps.

Here’s how the tenon looked after those marks were transferred across:

I then got the kebiki set up to mark out the slight offset on the tenon which will allow the joint to have some drawbore. Drawbore means that the peg has to slightly snake around the offset between mortise and tenon, and this bowed form the peg takes mean it continually holds the connection together with some tension. Then peg, after all, wants to return to a straight shape. The beauty of draw-bored connections is that when the apron shrinks in width at the dry time of year, the two parts will remain closely held together.

Knifing complete – I make two knife lines on the bottom of the peg mortise, one deeper and one shallower, as I work a slight ramp on the entry point to help guide the peg smoothly into the offset:

Then I set the central rail aside, and took a look at various patching jobs I needed to do. With curly grained material it is very hard to avoid some tear out hear and there, Also, I had a couple of errant marks from router work on the backside of the aprons that needed fixing.

Here’s one place where there was a little tear out – the underside edge of one of the short aprons:

It’s only a little divot, as you can see, however a person running their hand along the underside edge would feel it. I was not interested in giving them that experience, hence the patch.

With the patch piece outlined with a knife line, I next excavated a small mortise:

Since this is the underside edge not normally exposed to view, I did not fuss too much on getting the grain lines of the patch piece – ‘u-meh-ki’ as the Japanese call it – and the surrounding material as closely matched as possible. Besides, in curly wood, getting a perfect visual match is very, very hard to attain. My goal is to get a clean repair that is not too visually obtrusive.

With the mortise complete the umeki is glued up and tapped in:

Later on, the excess material is cleaned off and here we have a completed repair:

I ended up doing 9 or 10 of those today, and I’ll show you a few other ones I finished.

This one is on the backside of one of the short aprons:


Again, backside of one of the short aprons (upper edge):

And then this repair, which was especially tricky as it was on one of the front aprons right on the miter. Not a good place to get a little tear out, but I am pleased with the repair:

Once I hit that with the scraper, it should be pretty hard to spot. And I don’t know about you, but when I spot a well done patching repair on a piece of furniture or architectural millwork, I don’t think about the loss of ‘perfect’ untrammeled material , I think about the skill and caring of the person who did the job. It’s one of the things I remember about visiting the Biltmore House in Ashville, NC – the tiny patch repairs to the oak window frames.

I hope that the repairs I have done on these various divots and tear outs has been accomplished with some discreteness. Ideally they would be invisible, but I’ve never managed that!

Last, here I am working the hollow chisel mortiser to get the pin mortises done on those batten rod tenons:

All for today. I guess the next post to come down the pike will be on another topic altogether – I wonder what that will be? I’m not sure I know how to write about other things anymore….

Take care and I hope to see you next time. On to post 50.

5 Replies to “Ming Inspiration (49)”

  1. Chris,

    Congratulations on another incredible project! I've enjoyed every single post. Can't wait to see the oil on it.

    Thank you for doing all the extra work, on top of the woodwork, to share this with your readers.


  2. Amazing thread and work Chris. Humbled and amazed by your dedication and your skills. Will you be incorporating your maker's mark on this table, and if yes will you be posting about that? I was thinking about where you would place it for some time.

    Thanks for taking the time to share so often.

  3. Matt,

    thanks for the comment and so glad you've been enjoying this project! It's almost bittersweet to be coming to the end.


    your comment is very kind – thank you! As for the maker's mark, yes, there will be one. I will reveal that in the final post. Thanks for asking.


  4. Many many thanks indeed Chris, for taking the time to share this project in such detail, and to give more time to answering the interesting questions that arose.
    I have been encouraged by example to do better.

    I would love to drop by the old mill with the sun shining through the windows, and share some Earl gray tea. Ireland is a wee bit away though!

    Look forward to the final pics.

  5. Gordon,

    just a little hop across the pond is all. You'd probably like visiting more though in the summertime!

    Thanks for your comment and glad you're getting some useful stuff out of this blog.


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