The pieces are cut flat and square now it’s time to start putting them together. The primary joint for this project is the mortise and tenon, the oldest joint around (and still one of the best). I like to cut my mortises first so let’s start with chisels.
There are only three chisels that you need for this project, first and foremost a 1/4 in mortising chisel. Mine is a Lie Nielsen but Ray Iles makes a fine tool as well, you can cut a mortise with a cheap chisel (I did for a VERY long time) but they tend to dull very quickly and because most chisels aren’t truly flat on this sides they like to twist in the hole making it over large…point is if you plan to make mortises by hand a dedicated chisel for the job is worth the money. I would be remiss if I did not also throw in a link for Japanese chisels ...they are just awesome(that’s for you Mads).
The other two chisels can be vintage tools or even Irwins (these are the tools that most users find to be usable without the flaws of most home store chisels…but you are going to have to flatten the backs). You need a chisel for cleaning up mis-sawn tenons, a 3/4 is good for this since it give you a lot of registration surface to work with but some prefer a smaller 3/8 chisel because they require less pressure to cut, anywhere in that range will work.
Then you need a big chisel 1 inch or greater. This is going to help you make score marks for tenon shoulders (if you go with the 3/4 inch chisel you really don’t need this tool…but it’s nice to have.)
With mortises made. Let’s make the tenons. Traditionally speaking a carcase saw and a tenon saw did this job. I’m a bit unconventional here…
I like a hand sharpened dovetail saw 15tpi for cutting shoulders. Mine is a supercharged Sears brand; I think of the ones you buy at Sears as saw kits really, but that’s a great way to get started sharpening your own saws. Yes I am using a rip to make cross cuts, but because of the fine tooth pattern and the notch you make with a chisel for shoulder cuts there is not any tear-out.
A good back saw makes a great tenon saw but I just can’t do it. For me I have a 9 TPI bow saw that I just can’t part with. The high center of gravity and the tensioned long blade make for very fast and accurate cuts. These tools are finicky though so honestly the back saw might be a better bet until you have some experience cutting joints by hand. Any stiff saw between about 9 and 12 TPI will work but it should definitely be filed rip.
You will also need a hand drill a 1/8 bit and a 1/4 bit (brad points start the best but you can use twist if you use a awl to make a divot for your starting points). These as well as a counter sink and the screwdrivers will help you install the table top to the base. Just make sure that the action of the drill is smooth and keep it oiled. Mine was about $10 and I don’t see any reason to pay much more than that (you find the things everywhere).
One last entry on tools. Last up, the safe your butt category…
-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan