Wednesday 22 April 2015

Mid-Century Table (Part 2)

The first week of the new project is over.
I was a bit lazy the last weekend. That means I didn't spent much time in the shop.

But my thoughts are at the project all the time. 
I thought about jigs, resawing, saw sharpening and so on.
But more on this later.

Here is the progress so far.

As reported in my last post (Back to the 50'ies) I'm building a mock up as preparation for the real table.
For two reasons:
  1. I want to figure out how the leg has to be built and shaped (bevels, taper, angles, etc.).
  2. I don't want to waste good material.
During the mock up build I made some jigs which will make the building process a lot easier.

To Jig Or Not To Jig

Does it make sense to have jigs in a hand tool only shop?
In this case I think yes.

Jig 1

The first one I've made is for holding the leg at an angle of 60°. Placing the leg into it leads to a horizontal planing surface for the bevels on the leg. I think the picture makes it more clear.

Jig 1 - First draft

Jig 1 - With leg in place

Beyond this, after beveling the leg it can be used to hold the leg during the mortising.
As I'm boring out most of the waste and just pare the rest I assume that will work well.
Here is the final version.

Jig 1 - Final version
It is just a base with two holder. Both made from plywood.

Jig 1 - Planing stop

At one end I've mounted a planing stop, so that the leg can't slip away.

Jig 1 - Leg inside

In the picture above you can see an already tapered leg laying in the jig. I've marked the bevels on the legs so that it will be obvious what I'm aiming for with this jig.
I haven't tried to plane down the bevels yet (honestly I made jig 2 before I made jig 1).


Jig 2

The second jig is for tapering the leg.
Maybe it is not necessarily required. But I think it will help to be consistent.
I would like to have it perfect. And if the jig will help, then it will be fine with me.
The idea for this jig I got from one of the Paul Sellers videos (I guess it was from the occasional table build too).

Jig 2 - Final version

I built an "U" shaped frame from some plywood scrap. It was just bringing the pieces to size and screwing it together.

Jig 2 - U shaped frame

Two insets can be inserted into this frame. These insets have to be in the shape and size of the taper you would like to establish.
I made them from some spruce scraps I had. And as they are only used for three legs, I think this is good enough. By the way, the screws are countersunk deep enough so that there is no risk for the plane sole or the iron.

Jig 2 - Insets

At one end I screwed on a planing stop (slightly under the height of the piece) so you can plane against it.

Jig 2 - Planing stop

Now the plane can run on the insets and you can plane down until you have reached the final dimension.

The side pieces of the frame are a bit too low (1 cm or so). I've forgotten to add the thickness of the bottom piece. But it works the same way.

Jigs in action

This all done I started to test the jigs. First of all the leg tapering jig.
First things first. I ripped the leg blank down roughly to shape.

Ripping the leg

I'm using a PAX 4.5 ppi rip saw for such tasks. I like this "beast" pretty much. Although it is a bit hard to start. The trick is to make a starting kerf with another saw first and then switch the tool.
Below you can see the leg after ripping.

Leg after ripping

Now I place the leg into the jig. You can see it is a pretty snug fit. So I hadn't to use wedges for clamping.

Sawn leg in jig

And now you can easily plane down to the desired shape.

Low angle jack in jig 2

I grabbed my low angle jack, which is my always in use tool meanwhile, to plane down the taper. It went really well and I'm satisfied with the result.

Leg after planing the taper

Full Size Plan

In the meantime I made some full size drawings. Often I start with just having the idea and some rough dimensions in my mind. But this time there are a few challenging details. For example the apron angles. No long measurements. Just transfer some marks from the drawing and you will be fine. That's much easier then measure angles at made pieces.

Full size plan

Unfortunately the picture isn't good. Hope you got the idea. I'll think about how to provide a better one.

Leg checked against full size plan

I'm using the full size plan during the building phase. As you can see in the picture I'm checking the shapes against the plan. And I'm pretty close to the drawing.


That is pretty much where I am at the moment. 
As mentioned above I was lazy the last weekend so that I missed some shop time.
Anyway, I'm glad how the jigs came out. It was worth the effort. The taper is pretty much to size and I believe that the jig will help that the three needed legs will come out nicely.
Oh, it crosses my mind that I've played around with the shape of the leg.
Just to give you an idea what I'm aiming for have a look at the picture below.

Leg shape

What's Next?

Yes, good question. For sure I will try out the jig 1 and establish some bevels on the leg sides.
As soon as I've got it, I'll figure out how to do the round over and afterwards try to join the aprons to the leg (or vice versa).
The stock has to be cut, but I'll give it some additional days for acclimatization.
And as mentioned in my earlier post this week, I'm thinking a lot about resawing at the moment.
The plan is to sharpen my rip saw before I'll start cutting. And I'm playing around with the idea of a frame saw.

I'm seriously interested in your thoughts and opinions about resawing. And a bandsaw is not an option (I didn't have one nor do I have got the space for it).
So, let me know it. Leave a comment.

Stay tuned!



  1. I like the horizontal tilted jig. That is something I can me using when I get around to bedside tables my wife wants.

    1. Hi Ralph,
      give it a try. It took me two hours to make it (hand tools only) and I find it is worth every minute of effort. I'm really glad how the legs came out. And I can replace the insets and use the jig for another taper shape.

  2. Hallo Stefan,
    pfiffige Idee das mit dem Hobel-Jig.

    1. Hallo Volker,
      danke. War ja nicht meine. Ich bin selbst ueberrascht wie gut das funktioniert.