A Square Deal (47)

Took a few pics today, got some stuff done. Mostly a day of good things happening, with one exception (cue sound of distant thunder..).


First task was wedging the drawer together:

The all-joined style of NK drawer I came up with seems solid and I think it will hold together fine. No glue, no dovetails, yet the expressed through tenons show that it is joined work. They were not difficult to assemble or to make, I would say on a par with a dovetailed drawer for difficulty of execution. I am satisfied that I have proven the design to work and plan to employ this kind of drawer on future pieces. I’ll probably find ways to tweak it here and there over time. Probably the lignum vitae runners are a bit too luxurious and might have to be changed to something else, say….

The drawer pull next. I took a piece of real wrought iron and spent a couple of weeks etching it, to produce a pull knob somewhat akin to a lump of charcoal in appearance:

The pull has a rough grainy feel to it, contrasting with the smooth polished drawer front. I like the interplay of opposites.

I made this knob out of wrought iron, and joined it to the drawer front as if it were a piece of wood – with a double-wedged through tenon:

Sitting in place:

Here’s a view of the inside face of the drawer, where I am driving brass wedges into the end of the pull’s tenon to secure it:

Cleaned it off with a file and put a coat of anti-rust primer on it for the time being:

Wrought iron doesn’t rust much at all, but this bit of primer keeps the surface from any slight oxidation and is fairly discrete looking to boot. I resisted the urge to make it a ‘feature’. Might put some black paint on it later.

The drawer with fitted knob and through-tenoned sides and back:

A few people have asked about how the hammerhead tenon on the table corners works, as it presents a somewhat ‘impossible’ appearance, though probably only a wood chuck would even notice that. Well, today was the time to put the table top in place, so that makes it also time for the ‘big reveal’ Hah!

Before mounting the top, I wrote a long note directly on top of the bubinga dust panel for the person who takes this table apart many years from now. The note states who I am, where the table was made, what the original finish was, stuff like that. It’s kind of a hidden time capsule. I’m intrigued just thinking about when and where the ‘note’ will be discovered. Hopefully not in some desperate post-apocalyptic world where the table is being chopped into firewood. That may sound a bit gloomy or even fantastic, but such was the fate of a fair amount of classic Ming furniture during the Cultural Revolution in China.

Okay, on to those hammerhead keys. First off, they are slid into place at each corner:

Then the breadboard end is slid onto the keys, engaging simultaneously at both ends:

And then it is together with a few taps of the rubber mallet:

See, it’s pretty simple actually. Not so simple to make I guess, but simple in concept and in how it works. Tomorrow I’ll add some double-wedged fixing pins to the corners to connect the hammerhead to the breadboard endmore firmly. The idea with this system is that the hammerhead key is fixed to the breadboard and the table slab is allowed to slide back and forth on the other end of the hammerhead. The hammerhead mortises in the table slab corners are each 1/8″ long to accommodate expansion. The top is quartersawn so it won’t move too much anyhow. At some point in the year the hammerhead key will protrude a bit more along its long side relative to the table slab, at other times of the year a bit less. The protrusion of the key serves to somewhat disguise discrepancies in size between the top and the breadboard ends.

Fitting the other side:

The breadboard ends, you will perhaps recall from yesterday’s post, serve to lock the top to the frame via the posts’ extended tenons. The breadboard ends do a lot of heavy lifting in this piece.

All done attaching the top, save for the pegging:

You never know what might come up in the next day, so I’ll hold off pegging until the end. There’s a final trimming left on those ebony keys left to do as well.

A closer look at a couple of spots – first the hidden world of pillow blocks and dust panels:

Please with the way things have gone together on the side table. No significant hiccups – or ‘hiccoughs’ if you prefer. And I know some of you do!

The last couple of days have been extremely dark and the lighting in my shop is not the best, so these pictures are not quite what I might have liked, but, oh well.

Another view of the same corner:

See how the grain of the pillow blocks at the corner points down to the tip of the three-way miter?

The next detail to be tackled involved drilling a hole in the end of the drawer side member:

Is is for drainage? A spring ejector? An RFID chip?

No. In that hole is fitted a tiny silicone bump stop:

That softens the blow of the drawer running into the drawer’s bump stop if the movement to close the drawer is made too vigorously.

Then on to wedging the breadboard ends onto the rear demountable panel:

Trimmed off and cleaned up – just needs a coat of finish:


The demountable panel fitted snugly:

I’ll leave off pressing the keys into place for the moment as I still have to fit the drawer stops yet.

Here’s how she sits after today – 98% complete:

As mentioned in a previous post, there has been a delay in the manufacture of the bronze leveler feet by a local machinist. Today he brought by the leveler feet for the side table, a shiny like:

I like shiny metal – a bit like a Magpie I suppose. I need to clean the levelers up with a bit of sanding to remove some machining marks, and then will try my hand at patinating. They will end up hopefully looking somewhat like the wood in color. The recess on the bottom of the foot will be filled with some 2.5mm cork, so there will be no chance of the metal part of the feet scratching the floor.

Another view – I’m pleased with the way my design for these came out:

I live in fear though of what the bill is going to be for these!

The machinist returned later in the afternoon unexpectedly, and not bringing any further completed pieces. The first words out of his mouth were, “I goofed”. Uh-oh.

The leveler feet for the coffee table are larger, both in pad and stem size, however he had machined the stems to the same dimension as for the smaller leveler feet. They were therefore too small. So, that means more material will be required to replace those stems, and this puts things back a couple of days. He has however completed the pads for the larger levelers. I let my client know about the delay. He should still have the tables in time for Christmas I would think, though this is my self-imposed deadline, not his. He’s been very patient throughout the process, and for that especially I am grateful.

All for today – thanks for visiting! Post 48 is next.

10 thoughts on “A Square Deal (47)

  1. Absolutely stunning.

    Will your client let you enter pictures of the tables into any sort of competition?

    It is good to know that you wrote a note hidden in the table.
    As my dad always say: There has to be something for the archaeologists.


  2. Jonas,

    many thanks for the positive comment and glad you like how the piece is coming together. Not likely to be entering this piece into any shows or anything, as it is getting shipped across the country next week sometime.


  3. Chris

    Its just beautiful ! I had guessed the hammerhead keys were quadrants of a turning, but your solution is MUCH better. I love it.


Anything to add?