Making your own dowels provides for a great deal more flexibility in your woodworking projects than if you rely solely on commercial dowel stock. The principal advantage of custom-made dowels is that you can use any species—one that matches the surrounding wood or one that contrasts. Another benefit is that you can size the dowels precisely to suit your needs. The simple shop-built jig shown on page 118 describes how to use a router to transform square stock into dowels.
Woodworkers have been cutting wood threads for more than 2,000 years. The Romans used wooden screws
in presses for olive oil and for wine. For the modern woodworker, wood threads have more pedestrian uses— in screws and bolts to embellish furniture or in shop-made clamps and vises... >
T" he greatest stresses in a rocking chair occur where the legs meet the rockers. These joints need to be strong and solid, otherwise the seemingly gentle act of rocking will eventually pull the chair apart. There are several effective methods for attaching legs to rockers. The simplest way is to turn a blind or through tenon in the ends of the legs and fit them into round mortises bored in the rockers (page 134). The tenons can be wedged for extra strength.
Dowels (below) are not as sturdy as mortise-and-tenons, but they allow the legs to be trimmed to fine-tune the balance of the chair. Using bridges (page 139) enhances a rocking chair’s appear-
ance and also permit adjustment of the chair’s balance...
Determining the right shape for a rocking chair’s rockers, also known as runners, is an exercise in experimentation and intuition. When designing a new chair, some chair makers try variations on a basic curve until they arrive at a design that is pleasing to the eye.
To ensure stability, however, the rockers must do more than look good. As a starting point, use a radius of 36 inches to 40 inches to draw the curve of the rocker. This curve is related to the height
A laminated rocker is smoothed on an oscillating spindle sander. Laminated rockers, like the one shown at left, offer several advantages over rockers cut from solid wood. They can be made from narrower stock, which minimizes waste... >
hile the balance of a rocking chair can be fine-tuned at the assembly stage (page 132), a few key principles and dimensions are worth noting before you begin. As shown in the illustration below, these include the height of the seat off the floor, the angle between the seat and the backrest, and the shape and arc of the rockers.
The height of the seat depends on the needs of the chair’s user. Sitting comfortably on the seat, users should be able to rest their feet on the floor and rock
the chair without effort. For most people, a seat height ranging between 12 and 16 inches will work well.
For a graceful-looking chair, design a 5° to 10° angle between the seat and the backrest. This will shift the weight and center of gravity toward the back of the chair... >
Cutting the flutes
Make a blank for each finial that is slightly larger than the finished dimensions. Mark the top and bottom of the pommel on the blank and use Xs to indicate the waste section below the pommel. Use the dado head in a table saw to reduce the blank’s thickness between the two marks. Set the cutting depth at % inch. Feed the blank with the miter gauge, cutting away the waste with overlapping passes on each face (inset). The flutes are cut with a core box bit in a table-mounted router. Set the cutting depth at it inch. Align the pommel over the bit for the first set of outside flutes and lock the fence against the blank. To ensure that all the flutes will be the same length, clamp a stop block to the fence at each end of the blank... >
The crown molding—or pediment—on each side of the highboy front is actually built up from four separate pieces of wood. The broken swan-neck face molding that curves upwards from the front corner to the rosette is made from two pieces of molding glued together. With the help of a template cut on the band saw, the molding pieces are shaped on a pin router (page 125). The moldings on both sides of the highboy, called the returns, also consist of two pieces glued together. They are installed with dovetailed slides that fit into matching grooves in the upper chest (page 127).
A COLLECTION OF CROWN MOLDING STYLES
Shaping the second piece of molding
The piece of molding that is glued to the first one to build up the face molding is shaped by the same process used in step 1... >
Cutting the dovetail joints
Size the drawer parts to fit the openings in the chests, then rout the dovetails, cutting the pins in the front and back pieces and the tails in the sides. A set of commercial templates like the one shown on this page makes the job simple and ensures accurate results. Attach the pin and tail templates to backup boards following the manufacturer’s instructions. Secure one of the drawer sides end-up in a vise. Clamp the backup board to the stock, making sure there are half-tails at either end; the template and backup board should be flush against the workpiece. Protecting the stock with a wood pad, butt a stop block against the drawer side and clamp it to the support board to help you align subsequent cuts... >
The pigeonhole unit is made to fit between the tops of the desk and drawer sections of the secretary. Molding can be tacked in place to hide the gap between the two carcases, as shown at left. You can also omit the molding, leaving the pigeonhole unit removable.
MAKING THE UNIT
Rough-cutting the arches
Referring to the anatomy illustration of the pigeonhole unit (page 108), outline the shape of the arches on a piece of %-inch plywood, cut it out, and smooth the edges to fashion a template that you will use to make a routing jig (step 2). Before assembling the jig, use the template to outline six copies of the shape on your arch stock. Cut out the arches to within H inch of your cutting lines using the band saw... >
Fastened to a box-like jig that rides along the bed of a lathe, the router shown at left plows a flute in a quarter column. For instructions on building and using this jig, refer to page 120.
COMMERCIAL JIGS AND ACCESSORIES
Lightweight enough to be used in freehand routing (page 134)
Converts a router into a fluting tool. As on a lathe, stock is mounted on the jig between centers; router is fastened to a metal platform. Turning the crank rotates the workpiece and moves router platform along a guide rail, enabling the cutter to shape the stock along its length. The height of the platform is adjustable to set cutting depth of bit
Some joint-making jigs go well beyond the merely functional and allow a router to create joints that give equal weight to decoration... >