A Square Deal (18)

Post 18 in a series describing the design and construction of a pair of tables in bubinga. First post can be found here, with each subsequent entry linked at the bottom of the page.


Onward and upward with the side table build. Last time out, I was working on the joints between the apron pieces. Those are now done.

When the four were fitted up, I had the apron frame sitting in front of me:

I thought I’d share close up pics of the four corners. Here’s 1:



And 4:

I try to get a good fit all around, not just on the exposed surfaces (though I do fuss them a little more of course). Here are the undersides of the four corners, this portion sits atop the post so nothing on the surface is visible:



And 4:

The apron frame could be put to one side and I could start working on the tenoned and double-mitered upper post ends. Here’s one at an early roughing-out stage:

I used a chop saw and bandsaw to define the tenon and miter shoulders, and then it was a bunch of chisel work after that.

Four posts now roughed out to the same point:

In the above view, two of the tenon surfaces on each post are to the line, while two are not. The miters are cut about 1/16″ (1mm) fat at this juncture.

After a bit more work, the post tenons were shaped, and I could fit the stretchers to the post – here’s one assembly:

Once the stretchers were fitted up, I could assemble them to the posts and put up the lower portion of the frame. Now it was time to see how the apron assembly fitted to the post tenons:

Further down:

As far as it will go down at this stage:

There’s plenty of material to trim out of these miters yet, as you can see:

I had originally planned to use 1/4″ (6.35mm) side panels with a raised field, however I have changed my mind and decided a sunken field in the panel would be nicer, so I made the dado wider to fit a 3/8″ (9.525mm) thick panel:

Unseen in the above view is that dado continuing along the underside of the apron.

The through tenons came out acceptably I thought:

Another corner:

The apron front face will be proud of the post face by about 1/16″ (1mm):

The mortises in the apron for the post tenons were given just a bit of extra room to ease fitting. An overly tight fit, with the amount of material removed from the joints, would invite potential problems. There will be a pillow block crossover assembly fitted over the tenon as well, and this will be fitted more tightly:

This tenon had perhaps more room than needed, but all good:

Another one:

Last but not least:

Next up will be the layer of pillow blocks – – or maybe I’ll work on the drawer and runners. I’ll see what I feel like tackling when I get to the shop tomorrow. It was nice to put an assembly together today to give a sense of a piece of furniture, instead of joint after joint.

Thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. On to post 19.

12 Replies to “A Square Deal (18)”

  1. awesome work Chris, Some times i think it is just as hard to figure out how much and where, to leave the”fat” to trim for a nice fit. then it is to cut to the layout line…..a lot of forethought and planing for sure….now on to the pillow blocks!

  2. Exceptional work! I really appreciate how much work goes into the planning for each one of these joints. As a novice and amateur, I know even my best laid plans can easily be undone when trying to fit two pieces together and overdoing the fit. I can only imagine how much harder it would all be with such prized wood thrown into the mix. Thanks for sharing, and looking forward to future posts.

  3. Joe,

    thank you for the comment, and glad you like it so far. I chose to work on the side table first as it shares a lot of joinery with the coffee table, and hope to bring forward any lessons learned when I get to work on the coffee table later this month. If something went haywire with the side table then replacing the smaller and shorter parts is less of an issue. Already I realize it is better to complete the apron assembly before cutting the stretcher tenon shoulders to final length.

    Probably will be constructing a jig to help with the miter trimming between leg and apron tomorrow, and after that can fit the side panels and dust panel. That leaves the pillow blocks until the day after.


  4. Siavosh,

    glad you like it – thanks! I find that as I get to having a pile of parts with many hours invested in the work, my stress level rises a bit as I approach fitting. It is that apprehension, perhaps more than anything, that leads me to think carefully about the order of work. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes not.


  5. CHRIS;
    Great work! The crisp edges look sharp,a key to a good fit I see. Being a amateur as my self make it hard to bring it all together in mind as well as wood! Hope to soon join in the work. On paper as well as wood!Keep them coming can't get enough! Lator!

  6. Beautiful work.

    The joint looks like a variation of the Japanese ground sill corner joint (Can't remember it's name, and my books on Japanese joinerey are not with me on the ship). The joints look absolutely stunning.
    Is the small square hole in the joints for a locking pin?

  7. Chris,
    Spectacular work as always. As others have mentioned, I can't imagine the stress of bring four complex joints like that together without breakage, I find myself holding my breath reading the blog!!

    Design-wise, I feel that the lower portion of the side table legs could be reduced in section to not look so heavy. But opinions are cheap…



  8. Jonas,

    appreciate the comment and question. While I haven't consciously patterned the apron joint on any of the mudsill joints, it does bear a resemblance to sumidome hozo sashi (meaning: mitered end tenon assembly) – thanks for pointing that out.

    The small hole you notice is, yes, for a fixing peg. This is something you can get away with in a hard and tough wood like bubinga. I wouldn't work so well in pine or another softwood I don't think.


  9. Hello Derek,

    yes, the question of whether to reduce the visual mass of the legs has crossed my mind in recent weeks. This side table was a late addition to the scene, and is patterned very much as a little brother of the coffee table. The coffee table, having a 1.5″ slab top and being only 19″ tall seemed to sit right with un-tapered legs. I was going for a sorta chunky look.

    For the taller side table though, I have wondered if I should slim out the legs in some way. If I were to do so, at this point I would likely be scalloping out a 4~5″ strip of material from the inside faces of each leg, leaving a pod-like foot. I will sketch it out at some point soon. I want to wait until the top and drawer casework is fitted before making a determination on that. Right now, with just the apron on there, it looks like massive posts and thin beams, but that will change.


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