Wood like this makes me happy

Sometimes life just surprises you in the most unexpected ways. I was in the middle of moving out of our home when I discovered one of my neighbors has a lumber yard in town full of air dried slabs (how did I never know this???)

Most of the slabs have been drying for 6 years plus. Some 10 years. I saw walnut slabs clear as a bell 12 ft long, 14″ wide and 5″ thick! But this piece stood out to me. Destined to be a room dividing bar. 8ft long, 5″ thick, 16″ wide. Air dried for 6 years +.



Basque Style Table: The Base Part 3

I have to admit. I struggled with the angled braces. I had the table rendered in sketchup and so I had the angle the braces made with horizontal but sketchup’s resultant angle was WAY off. No big deal I thought, I’ll just clamp them in place and mark the angle right on the boards. This is were I had trouble. The problem is mainly due to the fact that the lower long stretcher is laid flat so it’s 4″ width is horizontal and the upper stretcher is oriented so it’s 2″ face is horizontal. Meaning if I just clamped the boards in place they would be canted 2″ inwards off vertical over ~25″.

Ok, no big deal I thought. I’ll just use a spacer at the top and mark the angle. Harder in practice than I expected.

The spacer has to be exactly sized or the resultant angle will be off by a large enough margin to produce a visible gap. There is no trick I discovered other than trial and error. I got the shoulder marked as closely as I could and moved forward to cutting the tenons. I figured after I cut the tenons I could trim the shoulders until I got a perfect fit.


I assembled the base without glue and the result was very promising. The table feels very solid and seems to sort of lock it’s self together.

The only point I feel could use some reinforcement is the sliding dovetail where the ends meet the top stretcher. I think it would be fairly easy to snap the dovetail off if a large force was applied to the end assembly. I’m somewhat confident this will be a non-issue once the top is attached but I think I still may make some triangular glue blocks to go in the corners at the intersection of the top stretcher and the ends. That more or less wraps up the major construction of the base. I plan to glue it together using liquid hide glue and paint it with black milk paint.

And now my a picture of my eldest Son helping saw tenons!


Basque Style Table: The Base Part 2

With the end assemblies completed I turned my attention to the top long stretcher. It was to be attached to the ends by a huge sliding dovetail. I laid out the dovetail on the ends of the stretcher and cut the joint.
Here is the tail in progress

The shoulder is 95° off horizontal to give the ends a 5° cant.

I sawed as much of the dovetail socket as possible and used a chisel to clear the rest of the waste.



As for the bottom stretcher I decided to use a simple half lap since there will be plenty of long grain glue surface.


In the next installment I tackle the angle braces.


Basque Style Table: The Base Part 1

With the lumber milled I set to work on the two end assemblies.
First step is to lay out the through mortises then chop them. The legs of the end assemblies are splayed at 7° so I marked that angle on the legs and set a bevel gauge to 7° as well to use as a guide while chopping. I drilled out the first two mortises with a brace and bit but found it no faster than chopping, not to mention the results weren’t as clean.

I attacked this one joint at a time so I chopped a mortise, cut a tenon.


When I had both legs mortised and tenoned I laid the lower stretcher across the legs and marked the intersection at the legs.

More chopping and cutting and viola!

One more time through that whole operation and both end assemblies were complete. I didn’t take any pictures but I draw bored the mortise and tenons so I wouldn’t need to clamp anything.

More soon…

Basque Style farm Table

I ran across this “basque style table” on Dorset custom furniture’s blog back in January and really loved the open trestle base. I tucked the idea away since I was in the middle of a move and would only temporarily be in my current location. But, when I found Fort Houston the possibility of actually being able to complete this table in a reasonable amount of time became a reality. I went to Mimms and bought 120 board feet of 8/4″ poplar and set to work on the base. This table was intended for my mother in law and I liked it so much I planned to build myself an 8 ft version when I completed her 10 footer. But, as often happens things changed. She was really looking for something long and semi-portable that could be set up in the yard on a whim for a family dinner under the maple trees. I pitched the idea of making the 10 foot top as planned and then making a couple “fancy saw horses” for her 10 ft top and then making the base an appropriate size for an 8 foot table for my family. She loved the idea and so we moved ahead. The original plan had the entire table built out of poplar and finished clear but I thought the basque style base would look great painted black. So I plan to build the base, paint it black and make a top from cherry. And, then build a 10 foot top from poplar with matching poplar saw horses. The 10 foot poplar top will use the mitered frame style table top while my 8 ft cherry top will be a standard bread board end table top.

So, like every project this one started with lots of milling, milling, milling. Two 5-hour-days later I had all my material milled and ready for joinery.


Fort Houston

Blogging has been slow but I have been busy. I joined a local co-op, Fort Houston, to have access to a jointer and planer. The co-op is great! They were gifted $35,000 worth of Jet machinery. The shop has two jointers, a 6″ with a segmented cutter head and a straight knife 12″. A 15″ planer with a segmented cutter head. Two lathes, 10″ and 12″ table saws, a couple drill presses, spindle, disc and belt sanders, two bandsaws, a 14″ and 18″. All for $125/month!


20140316-110817.jpg I’ve been busily milling lumber for the 10ft farm table project and my busted roubo. More soon.