Since a few of you made the mistake of actually reading the blog and some even commenting, well, just like a major TV network, I’ll keep this dog going.
Disclaimer- The term “exactly” when encountered in this blog should be interpreted loosely, roughly translated to “as close as my old eyes can get it” or “somewhere between gnat’s ass and half-assed close”.
Today I wanted to get the half lap joints cut so I could actually fit the table base together and see if I’d made any major boogers yet.
I started out with my trusty Combination square (not pictured), my marking knife, the stringers and two pieces of scrap to help me along.
The stringers are 29” between shoulders and I milled all the stringers to 1” width which means that each side of the crossing stringer needs to be 14” from the tenon shoulder in order to be dead centered. I cut a scrap of ash (I seem to have lots of ash scraps lounging about for some reason) to exactly 14” long and then ripped that in half so I’d be able to verify both distances simultaneously.
I then removed the top stringer and far strip, butted my square up against the remaining stringer (which I was holding securely in place), removed that stringer and struck a line with my marking knife, thus defining one shoulder of the half lap. I then placed the stretcher back on top, butted it up against the square, grew a third hand and held all that in place while striking the far side of the half lap with a marking knife.
There aren’t any pictures of this since my hands were pretty much fully occupied at the time. It brought back memories of when I was a mechanic for Sears (was it really 23 years ago?!) and always wished I had another elbow about halfway down my forearm to reach bolts in those places that automotive engineers think are ‘ideal’..especially since they aren’t ever going to have to access them! Rat bast…nevermind..
Where was I? Oh yeah, well, once I’d struck the two side lines I ended up with something like this, accurately defining the width of my stringer:
Normally I’d have just used a mechanical pencil to mark the lines as they seem to be pretty constant due to the lead being a set size but when I really get myself into a lather thinking I need real accuracy I reach for that marking knife. First few times I used the marking knife didn’t come out so well. The knife wandered all over the wood surface while failing to follow the reference surface. I kept flashing back to the scene in Jaws where Sheriff Brody is trying to tie a bowline and Quint is sitting back chuckling at him while saying, “heh heh, it’s not too good is it, Chief?” Finally I read an article on marking knives and found out that they aren’t used like you’re cutting the cheese wheel…light strokes are all that’s needed. And the article was right. Light strokes tend to follow your reference very well, you just have to make a couple of passes for good visibility. I have to admit..there might be some value in listening to what people with experience have to say.
I then used my combination square and transferred those lines around the sides of the stretcher, marked the depth for 3/4” because my stretchers are all milled to exactly 1 1/2”, and then went to the table saw. Since table saws, much like plants and women, respond best when showered in compliments, I praised my sawstop repeatedly concerning its accuracy and cut repeatability while I was dialing in my mitre stops and setting the dado stack height. With both of us satisfied, cutting commenced. Say what you will about my methods, it worked out:
Slight hand pressure was all that was required to seat that joint. Without boring anyone (too much..) suffice to say, I did the wash-rinse-repeat thing three more times. Not too shabby and I’m reasonably happy with the results if you discount the underexposed photography. My PhD camera failed me! PhD = Push Here, Dummy, sometimes referred to as ‘auto-focus’.
And once I had the stringers together it just seemed natural to shove the legs into place. Like this:
I’ll be dipped if it doesn’t bear passing similarity to the plans. So.. parts are straight, MT are tight, half laps are tight and square, the legs are square to the stretchers, stretchers are flush to the top of the legs..this must be my lucky day! ~speculatively eyes the wife and considers asking for a new tool~ Nah, probably not THAT lucky….
Maybe I’ll work on the tops now…or maybe I won’t. Either way, thanks for looking!
-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....