Brackets and Butterflies

Work on the black walnut desk continues. Last week I wrapped up the mortises for the brackets that will attach the top to the stand. Here I'm finishing off the edges with a chisel after the initial cut with the router. With the brackets fitted, I then bored holes for the screws. I'll remove the brackets when I put on the final finish.

Well, it's time to get back to routing. This time it's for the butterfly key joinery. First I need to make a template for each size butterfly; four in all. There will be a total of twelve butterfly joints in the desk; six on top and six underneath.

Here's a close-up view of one of the routed areas. The final shape of the mortise will be done later after the actual butterfly keys have been made.

Twelve rough blanks ready for shaping.

I used my shooting board and block plane to make one edge straight and square.

Then, used a cross-cut sled on the table saw to cut the ends square and to the proper length.

Here they are, ready to cut the key shape.

Sorry, no picture of the next operation. Basically, I made a temporary jig using the miter gauge on the table saw to securely hold the key; tilted the saw blade to 80°; and then passed the key through the blade four times to make the angled cuts.

With that complete, I'm ready to scribe (or trace) the keys with a sharp knife and use those lines to register the vertical cuts for the sides of the mortises. Even for these small tasks, sometimes it seems as though I need every tool from the tool rack!

Below, I'm dry fitting the butterfly key to check the fit.

Then it's time for glue. I don't have any deep throated clamps that can reach this far toward the interior of these wide planks, so I made up a jig to clamp these into place. It's a bit unwieldy and needs some refinement for my next project, but it does the job.

A little glue squeeze-out. Before the glue-up, I waxed the surface of the top near the mortise. That way it comes off easily and doesn't soak into the top. I'll remove the wax before applying the final oil finish.

I couldn't wait to see how the first one turned out. So, here it is with the surface planed nearly flush to the top. More planing is needed over the entire top to create the final surface. Another day.

I got two butterfly keys glued in this afternoon. More tomorrow.

Hej då and happy shavings!

Craig