Not much progress was made on the console this year since I primarily focused on the dining table with my free time. However, I was able to get back to it after taking a break from the dining table.
After some runs through the planer to get all the various pieces to consistent and matching depths, I proceeded with getting the legs cut. In order to do this, I had to prepare a couple of jigs that allowed me to cut the angles on the legs with the band saw. After some trial and error, I got these done and made the cuts. I do not have pictures of the second jig, but it required two separate cuts in order to complete the legs.
The next step was to start gluing up the panels for the main body carcass. I ran all the pieces through the jointer to true up the edges prior to glue-up. Then it was a matter of getting the biscuit slots cut, gluing up the edges and putting them in the clamps.
To help with the glue-up, I made a couple of home-made cauls. One set was simply 2×4’s that have a slight curvature to the length of the face that allows for even pressure along the length of the caul with only having to use clamps on the ends of the cauls. However, I found that the relative softness of the 2×4’s vs the hardness of the beech prompted me to also provide a clamp in the center. Perhaps more curvature of the face can overcome this in the future.
Since I need to ensure as flat of a panel as possible for tight miters of the body required by the design, I also made another set of cauls to keep the panel from cupping due to the sideward pressure. These were made from poplar and I used threaded rods with jig handle nuts. These cauls are slotted and allow me use them on various widths of panels.
After the panels had set, the next step was to cut the panels to length with miters for the main body outer frame. Unfortunately, I neglected to document this process with photos, but it is similar to the router cut for the slots below. I did some test cuts on scrap to ensure that the miters at the ends were cut as perfect as possible to ensure a tight mitered corner required by the design.
I took my time with this step and was very careful with my prep and setup. I clamped the opposing panels (i.e. top vs. bottom, left vs. right) together to ensure that nothing moved on me in the process. I placed my fence near the end of the panel and made sure it was square to edge. After my test on the scrap, my circular saw was setup at a 45° angle for the miter cut. I held my breath and cut the 8 ends. Happy to say , the slow preparation paid off and the cuts were pretty much dead-on.
Using the same method, I then cut the slots to receive dividers at the center of the console that house the cabinet and drawer. I was very careful with calculating the location so that the box was equally divided into three intervals. I setup the fence and made sure that it was square with the edge of the panel.
Next, some test assembly of the body to make sure everything was lined up like it should.
Over the years, I have learned that wood glue is pretty strong. However, the weakest joint you can have is end grain to end grain. My miter corners of the main box are just that. So I set out to figure out how to strengthen this joint. And while there are several methods out there, I didn’t want this reinforcement to be visible in the final piece. After researching it further, I came across a method called Full Blind Multiple Splines by Tage Frid. At first, the method looked too daunting, but after studying it, I concluded it was the best method.
Once again, I turned to testing it on scrap before fully committing it to the console. I was able to get it cut using a jig I created. After I was satisfied with the test, I moved on to carefully applying it to the console. One adjustment to Tage’s method that I adjusted since my skills with a chisel leave a lot to be desired, is to round over the spline “knuckles” so that they mate up with the rounded slots from the router.
At this time, after some test assembly, I discovered that all of my careful planning had a mistake. Some of you reading this may have already picked up on it from the concept renderings. For whatever reason, I decided that the height of the console should be about table height. I think I got that from looking at sofa tables for my concepts. Anyway, that is too short for our intended purpose. I did some adjustments to my models and re-rendered at the new height. Results were much better!
I sed the same methods spelled out above to cut the new legs. Once that was done, I used my router to cut the mortises that would receive the tenons of the rails for the base. Once done, I did a test fit to make sure it all went together as expected.
One feature of the design was to have continuous wood handles for the drawers and doors. I wanted these to have a slight bevel so they were easy to grab and pull on. It also has the benefit of making for a mechanical joint to resist against the pulling forces of using the handle. I setup my router table with a dovetail bit and after several test cuts to get it set just right, I made the cuts on the doors and drawer front. The pull was also cut using the same setup.
I also wanted to use dovetail joinery for the drawer. So I also used my router table to get this done. Once all was cut I did some test assembly to make sure it all went together as it was suppose to.
Before final assembly and glue-up, I wanted to make sure everything was smooth since sanding the assembled piece can be a challenge. Once again I turned to a new technique that I had started learning about recently. Actually, it is a very old technique that is not as common due to the advent of power tools for sanding. But it actually produces a smoother surface with less relative labor and doesn’t kick up a lot of sanding dust. The technique the use of card scrapers.
I have to admit I had to revisit this a couple times. My first attempts at putting an edge on the scraper was not successful in the least. But after some more reading and watching of videos, I had a better understanding of the process. Once I got the technique down for getting the edge on the scraper, I moved on to using it on the body panels. Not only was I am impressed with my ability to learn a new trick, but I was very impressed with the results. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.
Check out Part 3 which chronicles the assembly process.