Coffee Anyone? (20)

Twentieth post in a series. Welcome back to this description of the design and build of a bubinga framed coffee table. Previous posts may be found in the blog archive at the right side of the page.

Getting quite close to the end of the build phase. The next step in the ‘to-do’ list was to fit my maker’s mark to the wenge shelf panel. I started off by mortising the panel in the Rockwell Radial Ram drill press, which has no issues drilling in the center of quite wide panels:

I held off drilling full depth, as I didn’t want the forstner bit’s pilot to pop through the 1/2″ thick panel. My next move was to apply some painter’s tape to the area:

With the tape down, I then used a small top-bearing router bit to take the mortise to full depth – 3/8″:

Then the holly flower could be fitted to the socket and the outline of the flower scribed onto the taped surface:

With the scribing complete, I removed the flower and pulled the tape off to reveal the housing to be cut:

Then I used a combination of two spiral carbide router bits to freehand cut the waste out:

I was well conscious of the risk of the cutting, as one slip could ruin the piece, and dis-assembly and possible replacement of the vertical grain wenge panel was simply not on the plan list. The cutting came out well however:

I checked the fit of the flower and made a few tweaks to the fit, then on goes the yellow glue:

Down goes the flower and I used a hammer and block to seat the carving:

Then I grabbed a clamp to squeeze any excess glue out from the middle:

Lastly I cleaned the glue off and let it set up.

With the inlay done, I turned my attention to assembly. The assembly sequence for the table parts is on a diagonal, and the first order of business was to fit pairs of table top frame rails together to their respective legs. In order to facillitate pulling the frame rails together around the leg’s twin tenon and drawbar assembly, I decided to make a couple of clamping cauls – you can see one fitted on the right side of the picture:

Then I tapped one of the leg/drawbar assemblies sideways into place on the long rail:

With the leg assembly all the way in, I then brought the short rail into position, sitting atop its clamping caul:

I pushed the two together as far as I could, and then it was time to clamp, or cramp, as the English prefer to say:

The clamping cauls drew things together quite well:

Now it’s time to fit the shachi-sen into place:

I drive the pins in, all four in quick sequence:

I had some apprehensions during the design phase about how tightly I might be able to seat the pins, thinking I might be risking some short grain issues, but these concerns evaporated as I was able to drive the pins in quite tightly and with no issue whatsoever. The joint drew up very well and the miter is completely tight, as I will show in the next post.

Once the pins were fully in, I used the Miyano to trim them flush:

Pegs trimmed, with some smoothing of the finish yet to come:

Here’s a look at how the top of the joint looks, the normal viewing position:

I was quite happy with the way this joint came together, and repeated the process with the other pair of table top rails and their associated leg/drawbar assembly.

More to come, stay tuned. Thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. –> on to post 21

6 Replies to “Coffee Anyone? (20)”

  1. Actually, my father (English) always said 'clamp' as do I (also English but now living in Canada).. The only time I ever use the word 'cramp' is with regard to muscle spasm though I am aware of it's two meanings..

    Anyway , the project is coming along very nicely.. My only observation is that the flatness of the back of the leg seems a bit plain at it's meeting with the shapely frame.. Wouldn't be an issue with a solid top but as you can see it I find it a bit uncomplimentary.

  2. Adam,

    thanks for your comment. I grew up in an English houshold and I never seem to remember the word 'cramp' used for 'clamp', but I do come across it when looking at English woodworking magazine from time to time. I'm with you – the only time I would use the term 'cramp' is to describe the muscular-spasm kind.

    I originally designed the back of the leg with a profile from top to bottom, as it has currently on its lower section, however terminating the profile at the joint where the table top frame attaches was problematic and after trying a few versions, each of which seemed to have various aesthetic drawbacks, besides the termination problem at the miter joint of the frame, and so I settled on making the upper portion of the leg flat, and keeping the lower profiled. I'm not sure having that portion profiled would add much to the piece. I like it as it stands, however, to each their own.


  3. Chris

    You are a brave man to rout the flower-recess freehand! But a situation like that shows how skill can save time. Imagine making a template for the flower… How long would that take? And then you might be tempted to 'mass produce' signature flowers with another template, etc. etc. Better bravery and skill!

    The table is looking great.


  4. Hi Tom,

    thanks for you understanding of the dynamic there with that flower. I often freehand rout, but the stakes aren't usually so high.


    your kind comment is most appreciated. Thanks for your support as always!


  5. I only remember “cramp” as the term used in Buckinghamshire chair shops. It occurs that it might be a more regional use of the word. A proper “chair cramp” is a very interesting and useful tool for production chair work, definitely worth investigating for those who are not aware of it, especially if using hyde glue.

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