Monday, November 19, 2012

Kid's Table and Chairs - Table Assembly

Up until recently my first furniture project has included the process of taking pieces of wood and making them smaller. There's not much of an emotional or intellectual payoff in that. I can get excited about making square cuts and pieces of consistent length and width, but after doing that you still only have what amounts to a pile of pretty sticks. Arranging those sticks to be the object I see in my head... that's where the sexy is.

If you've been following along you may remember that I am assembling all the pieces of this table (and subsequently the chairs) using dowels for the joinery. I bought a Dowel-It jig and some dowels from Rockler for this purpose. The jig works well, giving me a centered and perfectly perpendicular hole in which to stuff a dowel. 

This is great for mating two pieces that both have centered holes like the table top, but not so much when trying to make off centered holes, such as in the table legs where the aprons are attached. In the picture to the right you can see I have left a small reveal where the apron meets the leg which is not centered on the leg. 

To make the matching holes I used dowel centers and a drill press. I found using the dowel centers takes some practice. I used a combination square set to an eight of an inch to align the side of the apron to make the reveal and a straight edge to align the apron with the of of the leg. Aligning the aprons this way would have been infinitely easier if I had three hands, but I made due with my existing appendages and the end result looks pretty good. 

Also, using the drill press made making the holes perfectly aligned a bit of a challenge and in a couple of cases I had to widen the hole to get the apron to align square with the leg. Thankfully this is not noticeable and doesn't seem to be causing any problems with stability. I think a fence or some surface to register the table leg against would have made this easier than trying to line up the tip of the drill bit with the marks from the dowel centers for each and every hole. With a fence I'd at least have one of those dimensions set for me.

I also used dowels and the jig to join all of the table top pieces. The table top is butcher block-ish in that I have glued sixteen pieces together to make a square. I started by gluing four pieces together using three dowels between each piece. This created four panels that were then joined in the same way creating one large square. I learned from this experience to add very little glue to the dowel holes. With what seems like a sensible amount of glue, the dowels I am using swell up and take significant coercion to sit deep in the hole. After waking up one of my kids while banging on a few dowels I decided to use a minimal amount of glue in each hole going forward.

Before moving on to final sanding and finishing I still have to trim the ends of the table top flush, round the corners and round over the edges.  I am going to leave the table top detached from the base until the finish is complete and then attach it with the same table top fasteners I used with my work bench.

I have the first round of sanding on the table top though with 60 grit to smooth out the glue lines and get rid of any residual glue. I wanted to at least get this one grit done so that I had a smooth surface on the work piece for when I bring it to the table saw and band saw and for running a router over it. Doing these steps will be the subject of my next post on this project.

Thanks for reading!

PS - It has started getting cold at night here in Massachusetts. Cold enough for me to want to park my car in the garage. I'm glad to have my bench and stationary tools on wheels and I still have a couple of inches to spare. What else can I cram in to my side?

I know I am close when I see that tall piece of scrap move when I hit the white bucket.

Link to the entire "Kid's Table and Chairs series"