Woodwork | Metalwork

Wow, it's been 3-1/2 weeks since my last post! Although there were many holiday distractions, year-end bookkeeping obligations, etc., etc., etc., progress is still being made on the Child of the Hunter coffee table.

I spent some time fine-tuning the surfaces of the side stretchers. Above, I'm using my Robert Van Norman-made wooden smoothing plane. Thanks again Robert! Below, I'm using a smoother I made in one of Robert's classes I attended back in 2007. It's since been converted into a compass plane and does a sweet job on the curved underside edge of the stretcher.

Next, I created mortises for the pinned saddle joints that will connect the cross beams to the top of the stretchers. Starting with the router and finishing off with a chisel.

I cut additional mortises on the underside of the cross beams and then dry fit the parts, below.

After final edge softening and surface preparation, I completed two stages of glue-ups connecting the side stretchers to the legs.

At this point, I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time awake during the middle of the night cogitating on the method I had originally chosen to attach the center top slats to the cross beams. I began questioning the value of permanently gluing them into place with dowel pins and eventually decided to make them demountable. That way, major clean-ups, refinishing or repairs can be made without any destructive forces required. That decision allowed me to finally drift off to sleep...

The solution is one I've used on large components, like table tops, but this time I also needed to address the relatively lightweight slats in the top. Below, you can see the bracket design model that I made in SketchUp. The two large planks, as well as the narrow center slats are each supported on three points as they pass over the cross beams.

The six center slats will be accurately aligned and positioned by placing them on 1/8" ⌀ steel pins tightly fitted into holes bored into brass brackets. Each brass bracket is then screwed down into the cross beam and up into the top slat. Removal of six screws is all that will be needed to repair a damaged slat.

I designed a similar concept into the inner brackets that position the larger planks. In this case, I used a shorter pin.

On the outboard plank brackets, I've miniaturized the design originally used on The Hunter desk. When all screwed together, the stepped joint holds the top down, but allows it to move sideways, in and out, as the plank expands and contracts in width due to normal changes in relative humidity.

That was the easy part. Now it's time for the making. Here are the rough brass bar extrusions and steel pins cut to approximate length.

Next, I went to the disk sander to square up the blanks and fine tune the lengths.

With a hold down jig and a fixed stop, I bored holes for the pins in the center slat brackets.

Here they all are after I used a reamer to clean up the holes for an accurate fit of the pins.

Then came the screw holes.

Lots of them...

And some counter sinking for the flat head screws.

I did the same thing on the plank brackets.

This next part was a bit more interesting; cutting rabbets into the pairs of sliding brackets. I set this up on the slot mortiser. I requisitioned a rejected (honeycomb checked) white oak crest rail blank from the Vidar's Chair project to use as a support for the cutting and glued on some stops to firmly hold the brass bar stock. I also added some ballast in the form of a section of railroad track to help minimize the vibration that is produced by the operation. The brass actually cuts quite well with this tooling, so it wasn't much of an concern.

And a close-up shot of the hold down and the position of the cutter.

And the result! The two halves of the bracket slide past each other with minimal friction.

With all that cutting done, it was time to give the brass a nice brushed finish on the surface. I made use of the jointer bed and fence to keep things square.

I wore through a few finger nails as you can see above, but I hope you agree the result was well worth it, below.

I used a hammer to tap the pins into tight position in the reamed holes in the brackets.

Last, but not least, we have the screws to consider. The rough finish typically found on brass screw heads just won't do on a piece of fine furniture, so I chucked each screw (qty 120), one at a time, into my hand drill mounted in the bench vise.

I found that using a small piece of 3mm plywood taped to my thumb allowed me to quickly get the results I was looking for as I applied pressure to the sandpaper.

A few turns of the handle was all that was needed to give a nice circular brushed finish to the flat head screws. I may need some time for my finger tips to recover, but I'm anxious to get going on the cross beams and preparing for the fitting of the top.

Another consideration is the effect of the cooler weather we're experiencing lately (-8° F./-22° C.). It's pushing my humidifier beyond its ability to keep the relative humidity of the studio in the ideal zone. I may need to wait for things to stabilize before I continue on with the final milling of the top. Better safe than sorry. Stay tuned!

Hej da and happy shavings!