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Desk build #2: Nurses desk: Tapered Legs and mortises

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Blog entry by Craftsman on the lake posted 08-27-2009 12:01 PM 2405 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Small Oak Nurses Desk Part 2 of Desk build series Part 3: Nurse desk: Some glue-up »

Recap
My niece will graduate as a nurse in the near future. She has moved into a new house and asked me for a small desk for her new flat panel iMac. I decided to make an oak desk that would be loosely based on the mission style but with side panels that would reflect her future as an RN. My goal is a small desk 48” x 29” with keyboard drawer and a small drawer. I’ll be trying my first hand made dovetails on scrap and then on to my first dovetailed drawer

I put this out here, baring all for two reasons. I’m still relatively new to woodcraft. Don’t let the ‘Craftsman on the Lake’ fool ya. I just like cool names. I was one of those people who liked CB handles during the heyday of their popularity years ago; remember that time? Anyway the two reason are:

1. I’m still flying by the seat of my pants here. Trying to learn from the net, books and you guys. So, I know how to appreciate it when I get some good information that reveals how some of this stuff is done. For the next time I use these skills in another construction, I invite your take on things. Maybe how you’d do it. It may be a better way or just another way or preference. No problem. All good ideas and comments are welcome and will be read and filed in that void between my ears for future reference.

2. Because I have to work to search to discover the best way to accomplish my goals I document them here so that when another newbie puts saw to wood they might feel better about cutting it with the possibility of success. These steps may seem rudimentary to some but believe me, some were a mystery to me at one point and many more still are. End recap

My first tapered legs
I’ve made a desk and bed with straight legs. This time I wanted to add a touch of elegance with legs that are tapered on the inside dimensions of the desk. I decided to build a jig similar to ones that I had seen a few places online. The jig is a table saw sled with a movable fence that can be slanted to provide a slanted cutting angle. Two arms lock and hold the movable fence in position. A center arm locks the leg down so it doesn’t move during the cut. I don’t have knobs on the jig because I’d be buy knobs all the time. So I use bolds and tighten with a ratchet wrench.
Google or search LJ’s for ‘taperigng jig” and you’ll find lots of different designs.
Here's a good link to a video for a simpler and still efficient jig

Here you can just see the steel pin that is in each arm and movable fence.

The leg in this picture has been cut about 1/4 inch narrower at the bottom of the leg end. The top edge of the leg came inside of the sled 4” from the top So the leg top is straight for the first 4”.

Using my mortise jig, I produced mortises on the legs

...and mortises on the side panels and side braces. this is a side panel with 1/4”x2”x1/2” deep mortise.

The dryfit of the sides. Cutting the bottom stile board to coincide with the leg taper was a little bit of a challenge, but I got it pretty tight. Looking at it this way, I’m thinking that the sides look a little heavy in the design area. Possibly narrower stiles and swelter design panel might be better. Oh well.

Part three should be a glue-up

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.



6 comments so far

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7011 posts in 1957 days


#1 posted 08-27-2009 01:29 PM

your project is looking grand….i did have a question though…your mortis seamed kinda shallow at 1/4 inch…i just wondered if there was a reason you didint go deeper….i guess im use to and inch or more when the project allows…i tend to over build..making sure its strong and sturdy…anyway..look forward to a finished project…..im envious of where you live…ive never been in those parts…fall and winter are coming…and all those beautiful leaves…..enjoy…...grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7011 posts in 1957 days


#2 posted 08-27-2009 01:50 PM

well i didnt look close enough…i see now that the legs are small up there..not allowing a real deep mortis…oppss….do you have any color changes yet in the trees…....

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2302 days


#3 posted 08-27-2009 04:11 PM

looks like you’ve got it made! tapered legs are on one of my next projects as well, you did a good on these.

are you using floating tenons for the joinery?

how many tapers are on each leg (1/2/4)? and did you do the mortises before tapering them, or after?

looks cool so far, and don’t let anyone fool ya and make you think that you’re NOT a Craftsman on the lake ;)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2386 posts in 2091 days


#4 posted 08-27-2009 06:17 PM

Grizzman, You’re right and I’ve corrected the information. The mortise is 1/4” thick but 1/2” deep. I could have used deeper with the legs but at some points I would be doing that in 3/4” board and that wouldn’t work. So, I’ve set my router at 1/2” for everything. But ya, with the old info indicating 1/4” deep it almost would be like not having tenons wouldn’t it.

I love living in Maine. I didn’t see a map at your shop indicating where you live. No, it’s still summer here. We’ve just had a stretch of 90 degree weather. You really don’t see sweater weather until at least the second week in September and lately into October. Leaf peeping is usually mid Sept in the Mountains and mid October for everyone else. I understand though. I talk to people in southern states and they often see Maine like Alaska. The northern part of the state can be but keep in mind I’m 90 miles north of Boston.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2386 posts in 2091 days


#5 posted 08-27-2009 06:29 PM

Thanks for the look Purplev,
The tenons are loose (floating) Seems so much easier to me. Especially with the jig I’ve got, my wonder bosch router, and since things like legs can have tenons going in two directions and at more than one height. At my stage of development with woodworking if I did regular tenons at four places on the legs, some of them wouldn’t be right for sure. And the lower braces that connect to the legs have to be angled to the angle of the taper.. an angled tenon… I can just see a pile of firewood with little incorrect tenons at each end now.
I have two tapers on each leg. The insides. So, the outside edges of the legs will be straight. I cut the mortises after the taper. If I had done it before I would have had to cut them deeper to make up for the part of the leg I’d cut off. Might as well keep the router set at one depth.

BTW, looking forward to the 19th gathering. We going to get some more info in the near future?

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2302 days


#6 posted 08-27-2009 06:49 PM

fantastic. I personally like to use regular tenons, but I agree that floating tenons result in less errors, and since it’s summertime here – there really isn’t any need to overload the firewood pile.

as for the 19th- I’m going to post the update sept. 1st just to make it official, I was hoping to get some news from some sponsors by then, but we’ll just take it one step at a time. seems like we have a few restrictions regarding food, but we’ll figure that one out as well.

see you soon.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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