A Square Deal (46)

A series of posts describing the design and construction of a pair of tables in bubinga.


Assembly of the side table continues.

Side panels fitted:

Next, the apron assembly with dust panel is getting pegged at the corners:

I didn’t see any point in putting finish on the quartersawn dust panel as it is concealed completely within the cabinet.

Uh, a drive through window:

Trimming the pegs followed:


Then the apron assembly was fitted to the posts. The apron assembly is locked to the post at each corner with a wedge:


This makes for a strong all-wood connection at the corners, no glue required.

With the four corners locked, the middle pillow blocks are fitted:

The corner pillow blocks have a crosswise housing so to sit atop the wedges:

Down (and blurry):

Next the post tenons are dadoed – this forms part of the mechanism by which the top is mechanically locked to the frame:

Other side:


The lower end grain portion of the dado is trimmed so as to be slightly below the surface of the pillow block, a detail necessary to accommodate potential shrinkage in the pillow block at some point:

Next, a view with all of the pillow blocks fitted, along with their dust panels:

Dabo are driven in to reinforce the connection of the corner pillow blocks to the apron:


A little further trimming was needed on one of the dust panel top edges:

Now the fit of the top can be checked out – rear edge engages first:

The other edge now settled snugly into place:

A good 1/8″ (3mm) of clearance is allowed on each side for any table slab expansion/contraction:


The breadboards ends lock to the dadoed post tenons, shown a few pics above. To fit the tenons, the breadboard end tongues are modified a little bit:


A closer look:

Checking the fit at the post tenon joint with the breadboard, repeated at each corner:


One side on:

These will come off again so I can fit the hammerhead keys – to be detailed in the next post. The breadboard end upper surfaces are not polished out yet, hence the difference in appearance from the slab.

I’m pleased with this system I have come up with to construct a 3-way mitered tenon connection, with the aprons locked to the post and the posts locked to the table top, all with joinery. More typically one might use ‘clips’ or ‘buttons’, elongated screw holes, bolts, screws, etc., to make the connection of top to frame. I prefer this system, and is is every bit as demountable as a metal fastener connection. I haven’t seen the three way mitered connection done quite this way anywhere else, so maybe it is my invention, who knows?

The drawer is also 90% of the way to fitted. It’s still a hair tight, and hasn’t been all joined up yet.

The machinist came by today with the small leveler feet, however he overlooked a detail and they require further machining, and I have to obtain more stainless bolts as a result. Delays, delays – what can you do?

Also made more progress on constructing the packing crate for the side table today. Nearly there. No work on the coffee table today. It will be a bit quicker to assemble than the side table as there are far fewer parts. Should have the coffee table assembly done tomorrow, save for fitting the leveler feet, and then I can get the coffee table moving along.

All for today – thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. Post 47 is up next.

4 Replies to “A Square Deal (46)”

  1. Hi Chris, this has been a most informative post, as I have been waiting to see how the top/leg connection works. Very, clean, I'm impressed. I especially like how the mechanism is integrated with the breadboard ends.

    Has there been problems with finish build up on all those mortise and joint faces?

    Harlan Barnhart

  2. Harlan,

    good to hear from you, and pleased you found the post informative.

    There have been almost no problems with the finish build up on mortise and joint faces. In some cases the masking tape did its job just fine, and in those areas where I didn't put masking tape, like peg mortises, it only took a moment or two to clean the mortise out with a chisel. I found the hollow chisel used manually worked well to clean the peg mortises actually. Other places where a little finish had bled over onto a joint face i found a bottom cleaning chisel, soko-zarai nomi, did the trick for scraping the finish off cleanly without taking the wood off.

    I appreciated the question.


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