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Harvest Table (Part 2)



The next step was to work on the aprons. I'd already jointed and planed them, so it was a matter of ripping them down to thickness...
...and trimming them to the appropriate length.

NOTE: I'm using dowels for my joinery, so I can cut my aprons to exact length. If I was using mortise and tenon joinery, then I'd need to allow an extra three inches (1-1/2" at each end) in the length of the aprons, to accommodate the tenons.

Then I set up the saw to rip a shallow dado about a half-inch from the bottom of each apron. This is to accommodate the table clips that I will be using to fasten the table top to the apron+leg assembly.
I need to rip a stopped dado for the short apron pieces to prevent the dado from being visible. To do that I put take on the fence to mark where the blade starts and stops (roughly, I don't need super accuracy) and then I raised up the blade into the workpiece, pushed it to the next mark, and then lowered the blade.
With all the apron pieces out I positioned them upside down on the table top. This gave me a chance to check how they fit, and make sure they are all the right length. This also gives me a first look at how it looks -- you just have to visualize it flipped over.

The center crosspiece is left long. It will be cut to size later, after the long aprons are dry fit with dowels, so that it is exactly the right length.

Drilling dowel holes at the top of the legs for attaching the short apron.
The long aprons have three dowels at the ends. The short aprons have four where they meet the leg.
Drilling dowel holes into the face of the short apron, for where the long aprons will join.

The short aprons are thicker than the short aprons, at 1" thick, and this is the reason why. With the way the long aprons attach to them, I wanted there to be more substance there to accommodate the joinery.

With all the joinery drilled and tested, I now moved on to mark the curve on the short apron pieces. I followed the simple technique of using a thin springy piece of wood and pushing it to make an arc.
And here are the two short aprons with the curve cut in them. You might have noticed in a few of the preceding photos how the one piece had a rather large knot in it, which I now cut away.

This photo also nicely displays the dowel holes for attaching the long aprons, and the stopped dados for the table attachment clips.

Now I could move on to assembly. I sanded the legs around the dowel holes, to expose the bare wood. Most of the strength comes from the dowels, and not from the butt joints. But I still like to clean those off for gluing.

I'm using 2" compressed hardwood expansible dowels. They swell up after being coated in glue. A while ago I had to cut open a piece with some dowels that had been put in the wrong place. The dowels were swollen and totally tight in the wood. There was no sign of any gap, and all the grooves in the sides of the dowels had disappeared.

After the two leg assemblies had dried I moved on to the rest of the apron pieces. It made sense to use the table top for the assembly, so spread wax paper on it to prevent any glue drips from affecting the look of the top.

First I glued in the central crosspiece and clamped it firmly.

Then I moved on to attach the long aprons to the short aprons.
Back during the design phase I was not sure that I needed this middle crosspiece. I thought the table was probably strong enough. I mostly included it to help keep the long aprons aligned, and because I had plenty of wood so why not? But as I planned the final assembly I realized that I did not have any clamps long enough to reach from end to end to clamp the long aprons in place.

Fortunately I had that central crosspiece. So I could use shorter clamps and clamp from each end to the central crosspiece. I was careful to NOT apply excessive clamping pressure.

I sanded the entire frame and cleaned away the dust...
... And then primed the entire leg + apron assembly and painted it black.

As a side note... when I first thought about building a table I envisioned the whole thing as having a natural wood finish. However, the "gift" of those painted legs caused me to consider a painted base. I've done something like this once before, but only on a small scale. So I was pretty confident that a painted base could actually enhance the look of the natural wood top.

I now turned my attention back to the top. I routed a small 1/8" roundover all around it. The reason I left this til the end was that I knew it would take a couple weeks for me to get this far, and I was concerned that the table top might get bumped as I moved it around the shop. By leaving the roundover until now, I would have the chance to clean up any such dings in the edges through the roundover process.
I learned this technique from John Heisz's website: -- toner transfer Basically you can use acetone to transfer toner from a laser printout (not inkjet!) to wood. I had tested this a few imes and so I decided to use this for labelling the bottom of my table with a "Handcrafted by Art Mulder" notation.
Two coats of shellac on the table top were next.
And that is as far as I am. It's basically finished, but not quite.

I want to put a lacquer finish on the table. But I can't do that in my basement shop, as I don't have the ventilation for spraying. I bought a can of brushing lacquer, but the solvents in that stink a lot -- it would affect the entire house for several days. I need to wait for the weather to warm up a bit so I can do that final bit of finishing in the garage. But you can see here what it will look like, as the lacquer will not change the look of it.

Here are few final photos.


Thanks for reading!



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See Also:

Double Decker Nightstand

Shaker Style Bed

Shaker-style Stepstool

Easy Build Mission Side Table