Category Archives: Arts and Crafts End Tables

Odds, ends, and End Tables

It has been a busy and emotionally overwhelming few weeks for me, so there hasn’t been too much woodworking going on in my shop.  I have been out of town for work more than I have been home since the beginning of the year.  Thankfully, busy season for my work is almost over and my schedule should settle down somewhat.  On top of being out of town, one of our two pugs , Piglet was diagnosed with cancer at the end of January.  Since my wife and I don’t have children, the pugs are our kids.   Last Saturday morning, we lost our baby and have been trying to deal with the loss.

Our goofy little princess, Piglet.

On the weekends that I have been home, I have tried to putter around a little in the shop.  I was able to get a backsaw restored, sharpened, and ready to go to work.  I also have started to get back to the Arts and Crafts End Table project I started a year ago and put on hold for a basement remodel (that still hasn’t happened yet).

The first step that I took was to create a storey stick for the project.  A storey stick, for those of you who don’t know, is simply a stick with the locations of the major elements of a project marked on it.  The stick is then used to transfer any dimensions, spacing, etc. to the actual work piece without the use of a ruler.  This helps to make the dimensions more accurate because it eliminates measuring errors from the process.  Layout lines can be transferred by either using dividers between elements on the storey stick or by directly marking the work piece from the storey stick.

For my storey sticks, I use a square stick that is about 3/4″ – 1″ on each side.  All the layout lines for a particular dimension (the height, width, and depth) are made on a single side of the stick.  So, my stick has one side that is for the height of the tables, one for the width, and one for the depth.  I could, and may, add layout for the workings of the drawers on the fourth side or on another stick.

After I made the storey stick, I glued up the panel for the top of one of the tables.  One of my boards was bowed, so I had to do some extra planing to get the top flat.  Here is a photo of the first two boards I picked to make the top.

Our goofy little princess

In the next two photos, you can see the unevenness caused by the bowed board.

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Here are photos of the top after the initial flattening.  There is a little tear out that I will have to try to plane or scrape away.  The first photo also includes the storey stick I am using.

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And finally, here is a photo of the top showing the grain pattern of the wood.  I think it will turn out really nice.IMAGE_779  

I hope to make some more progress on the tables during the next few weeks, and I will update the blog as I do; I just don’t know how much shop time I will have.

Until then. . .

Tool Focus – Bench Planes Part 2 – Jack Plane

A quick status update on the Arts and Crafts End Tables before I get into the tool focus for this week. A week ago I finished cutting the joinery and gluing up the last of the legs for the end tables. If I had to do it again, I’m not sure if I would choose to make the quadralinear legs. It was a LOT of work. This week I hope to get the components cut to rough size and ready to start laying out and cutting the joinery. Now…on to the tool focus.

Stanley # 5 - Jack Plane

Stanley # 5 – Jack Plane

This week’s tool focus is about perhaps the most versatile of all the bench planes. Rumor has it that this bench plane is called the Jack because it is the “Jack of all trades.” I have also heard that the name comes from the plane being so common, just like the name Jack.

With an extra iron or two and a little effort to change the plane’s settings, this work horse can perform most – if not all – the lumber dimensioning and surfacing tasks needed to make fine furniture.

My Jack is a Stanley # 5 and measures 14″ long. What makes the Jack so versatile is this medium length. It is the perfect size for removing material quickly and leaving a roughly flat surface – this is easiest with a curved (also known as a camber) iron.

Cambered Plane Iron

Cambered Plane Iron

It is also long enough that if you change the iron to one with a less extreme camber and set the plane for a finer cut, you can flatten and true faces as well as edges to get ready for joinery. At the same time, the plane is short enough that with a very sharp, straight iron (preferably with the corners rounded slightly) and a tightly closed mouth, you can set up the plane for a very fine cut and use the plane to smooth the wood to a nearly finish ready surface.

Going into the parts of the Jack Plane and how to adjust its settings would make this post WAY too long; and all the traditional metal bodied bench planes work the same way. In the next post, I will use the Jack Plane to show these details and how to use the plane to do basic dimensioning and surfacing tasks.

Arts and Crafts End Tables – Leg Construction

Finished Table Legs

Finished Table Legs

This week I was able to get two more legs profiled and glued up.  Now I only have five more for the two end tables I’m building.  Here are the steps I used to shape the profiles.

Leg component blank before profiling.

Leg component blank before profiling

1. Use a plow plane to plow a groove in the face of the component blank.

Plow a groove on the face.

Plow a groove on the face.

2. Plow a groove in the edge of the blank that is furthest from the face groove.

Plow a groove on the edge of the blank.

Plow a groove on the edge of the blank.

3. Use a rabbet plane to shorten the wall of the edge groove on the same side as the face groove.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the edge.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the edge.

4. Shorten the wall of the face groove nearest the edge.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the face.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the face.

5.  Cut a rabbet in the edge nearest to the face groove.

Cut a rabbet in the edge nearest the face groove.

Cut a rabbet in the edge nearest the face groove.

6. Use a shoulder plane to bevel both edges at 45°.

Bevel both edges at 45°

Bevel both edges at 45°

7.  Fit each mating piece so that the profiles lock together.  When they fit properly, glue and clamp.

Glued up legs

Glued up legs

I hope you’ve found this step by step walk-through useful.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.

Next week I hope to finish at least two more legs.  More next time…

Arts and Crafts End Tables–Rough Cutting Stock

Rough cut components

Rough cut components

Its been another busy week, and I haven’t gotten as much woodworking time as I would like (but when to any of us ever get as much time for our hobbies as we would like).  My shop time this week was mainly dedicated to choosing which pieces of lumber would be used for the various components for the end tables.

I first chose the board that would be used for the legs of the second table.  While I was at it, I selected the lumber for the table tops.  From the scrap of these boards, I also have the material that will make up the cavities for the drawers.

The board that I had selected for the legs ended up with a fair amount of cupping (for those of you who aren’t woodworkers, imagine looking down the length of the board from the end and seeing a slight “U” shape across the width of the board).  On the material for the first leg, I tried to plane the board flat before cutting out the blanks for the leg.  Was that ever a big mistake.  I ended up with a board that was way to thin to try cutting the profile to make the legs lock together.  So, I planed the board down to only 3/8” thick and now it will be the material for the slats on either a side or back of one of the tables.  This is the piece on the far left of the photo above.

That about covers it for this past week.  This week I hope to get the profiles cut on the leg components and get them glued up.  I plan to write a post that goes into more detail about how I cut these profiles around the middle of the week.

In the meantime, I’d like to know if you’re interested in reading more about the tools, techniques, and other details related to the way I work on projects.  Please let me know your opinion by leaving a comment below.

Until next time…

Arts and Crafts End Tables – More Legs

It’s been a busy week here, and I haven’t had as much time in the shop as I would have liked.  This week, all I was able to get done was getting lumber to size for two more legs; which brings me to three, in total.

Legs in progress

Legs in progress

I’m hope to get the rest of the legs done this week.  I only had one board that was rough sawn, the rest are surfaced on both sides, so I won’t have to plane as much (if at all).  I have only a board for one leg that is still in the rough state.

There isn’t much more to tell for now, so I won’t keep rambling.  I will post again next week to let you know where the project stands.

Arts and Crafts End Tables – Legs

I started working on the legs for the end tables this week. Actually, I started on one leg. I want to make sure that I can get the quadralinear (4 part) legs to work out the way I want them to.

First of all, I cut the lumber to rough length for four legs. Once the pieces were cut, I planed down one of them to get a good surface on which to work. The oak had a great figure in it.

Rough Lumber

Rough Lumber

After Planing

After Planing

The next step was to saw out the four individual parts for the leg. The was a somewhat stressful step because I had only about a quarter of an inch to work with between the pieces. In the photo below, I had to try to saw to line closest to my thumb without cutting into the line on the right. I’m happy to say that my saw tracked beautifully and I didn’t have any problems with the cuts.

Small space to saw

Pieces for the test leg

Pieces for the test leg

Once the pieces were cut and planed down to final size, I started plowing the grooves and rabbets to make the profile. To plow the grooves, I used a plow plane; for the rabbets, a moving fillister plane.

Plow Plane

Plow Plane

Moving Fillister Plane

Once I had the profiles made, I had to individually fit the pieces to make sure the leg would go together. I ended up with a few gaps, but the liquid hide glue I plan to use should fill them adequately.

Dry-assembled leg end

Dry-assembled leg end

Dry-assembled Leg

Dry-assembled Leg

Now that I know the profile for the legs will work, I need to make seven more of them before I can move on the rest of the tables.

Arts and Crafts End Tables – Leg Design

The most complex part of this project is going to be the legs, so I want to try to tackle them first. Arts and Crafts furniture (particularly Stickley style) was often made with what are called quadralinear legs. This just means that each leg was made up of four pieces of wood. This was done so that each side of the legs would have straight grain running down their lengths.

With power-tools, these would usually be made with a Lock Miter router bit like the one in this video from Rockler Woodworking. Figuring out how to do something similar with hand tools took a while. Here is the profile I came up with for each of the leg pieces.

Quadralinear Leg Section

The four pieces should interlock as shown in this picture.

Quadralinear Leg Interlock

There will be two major challenges to making these legs. The first will be to accurately create this profile on the leg stock using a plow plane and a rabbet plane. For those of you how aren’t woodworkers, a plow plane cuts a groove with two walls in the middle of board, and a rabbet plane creates a ledge along the outside edges. The second challenge will be that each of these sections are only going to be around 1 3/4″ wide, so finding a way to hold the pieces while cutting the grooves and rabbets will be difficult.

I expect to start working on the legs by the end of this week. I will post photos and more information this weekend.