Marking the knuckle joints
Butt the mating ends of the fly rail and the long outer side rail piece together, making sure the board edges are aligned. Use reference letters to label the pieces, then mark a shoulder line on each board about 1 inch from their mating ends; use a try square to ensure the lines are perpendicular to the board edges, To complete the joint outline, use a tape measure to divide the boards into five equal segments across their width, creating a grid of fingers and notches on the board ends. Mark the waste sections—or notches—with Xs (right) so the fly rail will have three notches and the mating piece two notches.
Sawing the fingers
To cut the fingers at the end of the fly rail on your band saw, start by sawing out the waste at both edges of the piece with two intersecting cuts. To clear the waste between the fingers, nibble at it with the blade, pivoting the piece as necessary to avoid cutting into the fingers (left). Once all the fingers are cut, test-fit the joint and make any necessary adjustments with a chisel.
4 Fine-tuning the knuckle joints
If the shoulders and fingers of the knuckle joints were left square, the fly rails would bind against the side rails when they were extended. To permit the joints to pivot, mark a line on the inside face of each fly rail and side rail piece parallel to the shoulder line and offset /г inch from it. Clamp one fly rail inside-face up on a work surface with a backup board between the rail and the table. Start by using a chisel the same width as the fingers and notches to round over the end of the fingers. Then position the tip of the chisel blade on the offset line, centered on a notch, angling the tool so the cut will end at the original shoulder line. Holding the chisel with one hand, tap it with a wooden mallet to bevel the shoulder. Repeat for the remaining notches (right). Bevel the notches the same way on the long rail piece, but leave the fingers square.
5 Cutting the fly rails to length
Refer to the anatomy illustration (page 24) to mark the S-shaped cutting line on the fly rails, then designate the waste with Xs. Feed the stock across the band saw table (above), making certain neither hand is in line with the blade. Make matching cuts on the mating ends of the short outer rail pieces, ensuring that there will be a sufficiently large gap—about /2 inch—between the two boards for a handhold.
7 Gluing up the side rails
Assemble the knuckle joints, inserting lengths of /-inch dowel into the holes through the fingers, and cut the inner side rail pieces to length. For each side rail, spread glue on the contacting surfaces of the boards and clamp the outer rail pieces to the inner rail; do not apply any glue on the fly rail since it must be free to pivot. Make sure to leave a /2-inch gap between the fly rail and the short outer side rail piece. Alternate the clamps across the top and bottom edges of the assembly, spacing them 3 to 4 inches apart. Tighten the clamps evenly (right) until adhesive squeezes out of the joints.
The next step in making the rails is to cut the tenons that will fit into the leg mortises. Start by drilling a test mortise (page 37), then outline the tenons on the ends of the rails, using the test mortise as a guide. Cut the tenons on your table saw fitted with a dado head; adjust the width of the head to slightly more than the tenon length—about % inch. Set the cutting height at one-third the stock thickness. Attach an auxiliary fence to the saw’s rip fence and an extension board to the miter gauge. To position the fence, align the shoulder line on the rail
with the dado head and butt the fence against the end of the board. Feed the rail face down, holding the stock flush against the fence and the miter gauge extension. Turn the rail over and repeat the cut on the other side (above), fitting the tenon in the test mortise and raising the blades until the fit is snug. Cut tenon cheeks at the other end and repeat for each side and end rail. Next, flip the rail on edge and adjust the blade height to trim the tenons to width. Again, test the tenon until it fits snugly in the trial mortise.
Preparing the rails for the top
Once all the tenons are finished, you will need to cut a groove along the inside face of the rails to accommodate the wood buttons that will secure the tabletop in place. Leave the dado head on your table saw, adjust its width to / inch, and set the cutting height at about Va inch. Position the fence about % inch from the blades. Feed the rails into the dado head inside – face down and with the top edge pressed against the fence (left). Also cut a groove in the end rail blank at this time. This will ensure that all the grooves are identical. (Caution: Blade guard removed for clarity.)
1 Cutting the top drawer rail
Cut the top drawer rail to length, then outline the dovetailed half-laps that will join the ends of the rail to the front legs of the table. Offset the outline toward the back edge of the rail so the dovetail will be centered on the leg when the rail’s back edge is flush with the back face of the leg (step 2). Cut out the dovetails on your band saw, making two intersecting cuts along each edge of the outlines (left). Then use your table saw fitted with a dado head to cut away one-half the thickness of the dovetails from their bottom face (inset).
Cutting the dovetail sockets in the legs
Secure a front leg upright in a bench vise and use one of the dovetailed half-laps you cut in step 1 to outline the mating socket on the leg’s top end. Make sure the top end of the leg is flush with the benchtop; this will support the router base plate as you cut the socket. Also ensure that the dovetail shoulder is butted against the inside edge of the leg and the rail’s back edge is flush with the back face of the leg as you mark the lines. Install a ‘/e-inch upcut-spiral straight bit into a router and adjust the cutting depth to the thickness of the dovetail. Rout the socket within the marked outline, then square the corners and pare to the line with straight and skew chisels, as needed. Repeat to cut the socket in the other front leg (right).
3 Cutting twin tenons in the bottom drawer rail
The bottom drawer rail is joined to the legs with twin mortise-and-tenon joints. Cut the tenons at the ends of the rail on your table saw. Install a dado head % inch wide, then set up a tenoning jig in the miter slot. Mark a twin tenon at each end of the rail and set the cutting height at % inch. Lay out the tenons so the back edges of the rail and leg will align (step 4). Clamp the rail end-up in the jig, placing a shim between the two to prevent the dado head from contacting the jig. Shift the jig sideways to align one of the tenon marks with the dado head. To make the cut, push the jig forward, feeding the stock into the blades. Shift the jig to line up the dado head with the waste adjoining the twin tenons, making several passes until you have cleared away the excess wood (right). Repeat the cut at the other end of the rail.
Outlining the double mortises in the legs
Set one of the legs inside-face up on a work surface, then place the bottom drawer rail on it, aligning the back edge of the rail with the leg’s back face. With the end of the rail at the appropriate height on the leg, outline the twin tenons with a pencil (left). Prepare the end rail (page 36) and drill out the rail mortises in the legs (page 37) before chiseling the double mortises in the legs (page 38).
5 Cutting the curved face of the end rail
Outline the curved outside face of the end rail on the edges so the legs will extend / inch beyond the rail when the table is assembled. Then, standing at the side of the band saw table, set the rail down on edge. Align the blade just to the waste side of the cutting line near the center and hold the two ends to feed the stock across the table; make sure neither hand is in line with the blade. Once one waste piece falls away, turn the rail over and cut the opposite end (right).
6 Veneering the end rail
If your end rail was made from glued-up stock, you may need to apply a piece of veneer to the outside face to conceal any glues lines that might be visible. Follow the same procedures you would use on the fall-front of a slant-top desk. Make the veneer pattern and set up a vacuum press (page 123). For the model shown, insert the hose into the nipple in the bottom of the press bag. Then place the platen in the bag and slide the nipple into the platen sleeve. Set the end rail on a work surface, apply the glue, and lay the veneer on the rail. Place a piece of wax paper over the veneer, rest the caul on top, and place the assembly atop the platen. Seal the bag, turn on the pump and leave the assembly under pressure for the recommended length of time (below). Most vacuum presses will shut off when the appropriate pressure has been reached.
1 Outlining the rail mortises in the legs
Use one of the rail tenons you cut (page ЗЗДо outline the length and width of the mortises. Start by holding the cheek of the tenon flush against the inside face of one of the legs; make sure that the top edge of the rail is aligned with the top end of the leg. Mark the length of the mortise. To outline the mortise width, hold the edge of the tenon flush against the inside face of the leg and mark the cheeks of the tenon (right). Extend the lines along the face (shown in the illustration as dotted lines). Repeat for the remaining side and end rail mortises. Remember that the outside face of the legs should extend beyond the end rail by about / inch.
Drilling the rail mortises in the legs
Use a mortising machine as shown or install a mortising attachment on your drill press. Clamp one of the legs to the fence, centering the mortise outline under the chisel and bit. Adjust the drilling depth to V» inch more than the tenon length. Make a cut at each end of the mortise before drilling out the waste in between (left). Repeat the procedure to cut the remaining mortises.
Clamp a leg inside-face up to a work surface. Then, starting at one end of the double mortise outline, hold a mortising chisel square to the inside face of the leg and strike the handle with a wooden mallet (left). Use a chisel the same width as the mortises and be sure that the beveled side is facing the waste. Continue making cuts at intervals of about % inch until you reach the other end of the outline. Use the chisel to lever out the waste to the required depth (above). Chop out the remaining double mortises the same way. Test-fit the joints and widen or deepen the mortises with the chisel, as required.
Once the glue bonding the legs to the side rails has cured, remove the clamps and set the assemblies flat on a work surface with their mortises facing up. Test-fit and, if necessary, correct any ill-fitting joints and do any required sanding. Spread glue on the contacting surfaces between the end and drawer rails and the legs, then fit the bottom drawer rail and end rail into one of the side rail assemblies (above). Position the other leg-and-rail assembly on top and set the framework upright on the floor. Finally, fit the top drawer rail into place and clamp the assembly (step 6).
Use three bar clamps to secure the joints between the end and drawer rails and the legs. Protecting the stock with wood pads, install one clamp along the end rail and two more along the drawer rails. To check whether the assembly is square, measure the diagonals between opposite corners immediately after tightening the clamps (left). They should be equal; if not, the assembly is out-of-square. To correct the problem, install a bar clamp across the longer of the two diagonals. Tighten this clamp a little at a time, measuring as you go until the two diagonals are equal.
Installing the corner blocks
Spread glue on the contacting surfaces between the first block and the rails, hold the block in position against the rails and screw it in place. Repeat for the second block (right).
Making the corner blocks
Attach a triangular corner block to each joint between the end rail and the side rails; this will reinforce the back corners of the table and keep it square. To fit the blocks into the table corners, make a 45° miter cut at each end of the blocks and mark four points on the long edge, two near each end. Next, bore pocket holes through the blocks for the screws that will secure them to the rails. Install a US-inch Forstner bit in your drill press and clamp a backup panel to the machine table. Secure the block in a handscrew and drill a shallow hole to recess the screw head. Reposition the block to bore the next hole, then turn the block around in the handscrew to drill the holes near the other end. Repeat the process with a smaller brad-point bit to bore clearance holes (left). Finally, with the block top – face down on the table, drill a counterbored hole through the middle of the surface; this hole will enable you to fasten to the block to the table top.