Hide To Nothing

Adhesives are many and varied and I did some test pieces using several different glues to find the most suitable. Impact adhesive is fine, but make sure you get it right first time or you're in trouble -any adjustments are virtually impossible.

There are spray adhesives available for fixing vinyl and other plastic materials but over large areas I found them less successful. In the end I used PVA wood glue. It gave a firm fixing, and did not react in any way with the vinyl. Another advantage is that it gives you a little more time to make any necessary adjustments. It is possible to place the covered component into a veneer press, but be careful not to over tighten as this could crush the vinyl and leave thin areas. Alternatively weights can be placed on a piece of MDF or plywood.

I will mention here that the use of vinyl as a covering was not a personal choice. My client is a vegan and the use of any animal hide was not be acceptable to her. However some very good synthetic materials are available and of course they cost considerably less than leather. Different glues may be needed if you do use leather.

Interior shelf

Stub mortise and tenons are used to fix the interior shelf sides to the front and back of the desktop. Groove the sides first to accept the shelf floor. A dovetail housing is the most efficient method of fixing the shelf back into position. Cut out the housing with a router and dovetail cutter, the tail can be made on the bandsaw and tidied up with a sharp chisel.

The shelf floor is made from

9mm (Xin) MDF. An ash lipping is attached to the front of the shelf, but make sure that this is left slightly proud of the shelf surface to accommodate the vinyl covering. It is at this stage that it is necessary to cover the shelf floor with the vinyl. Form a rebate along both sides of the floor of which the tongue then locates into the groove in the shelf sides. The shoulder of the rebate makes a good edge for the vinyl to finish against.

"It is easier to fit the desktop to the leg components, before fitting the work surface into its frame, than visa versa"

"It is advisable to cut out the shape of the shelf-opening in the front component after the finger joints have been made, but before the desktop is assembled"

Back leg

Twin tenon gives greater gluing area and mechanical strength t above: To avoid the possibility of splitting the laminates, and to add some mechanical strength to the mating surfaces, knock down fittings were epoxied in place below left: Curved laminated leg is twin tenoned into back leg, note shaping on the top of the back leg

Assembly

The next stage is to dry assemble all the desktop components and check everything for square. If satisfied, glue and cramp up the top. Don't forget to make sure that the shelf floor is in position, as it cannot be fitted afterwards. When the cramps are removed the rear of the shelf floor can be screwed into the shelf back, as in a traditional drawer construction.

It is easier to fit the desktop to the leg components, before fitting the work surface into its frame, than vice versa. The legs are glued straight to the sides of the desktop, but I decided that extra fixing was required to ensure rigidity. Normally I would have screwed through the desktop sides and into the legs to achieve this.

Back leg

Twin tenon gives greater gluing area and mechanical strength t

Corner block drilled to take top

Knock down fittings used between leg and side

Corner block drilled to take top

CLAMP REPEAT

CLAMP REPEAT

ABOVE! The knock down fittings used to attach the laminated leg to the side of the desk

RIGHT! Several models were made to help visualise the design and envisage any technical problems

BELOW: Internal structure of desk, corner blocks are used to fix the top

The underside of the desk's work-surface has to clear the top of the chair's armrests to enable the chair to be pushed under the desk when not in use.To achieve this the radius of the curve which is 550mm (2l%in) has to be increased to 590mm (23!4in),a difference of 40mm (l3/in).Two choices are available here - one is to construct a new former with the desired radius, the other is to use the method I employed.

Cut some laminates to the same width as the former, and enough of them to achieve a thickness of 40mm (l3/in) when glued together.These laminates can now be glued and cramped to the former as if making the legs themselves. When completed, this curved piece becomes an extension, increasing the former's radius by the desired amount, and yet maintaining the correct arc, see drowing.The actual laminates for the legs can now be cut on the bandsaw and finished to size in the planer-thicknesser. Clamp the laminates to the former using the same procedure as in the chair project. Although they could be removed much sooner, especially in heated workshop conditions, I personally err on the side of caution and never like to disturb glued-up laminations for a minimum of 24 hours.

"My client assures me that the desk and chair are the best of friends, and get along together just fine"

BELOW: Original Tage Frid former used for legs on chair

However I was concerned that there was a possibility, although small, that the screws may have forced open the laminates, and so I used KD fittings instead. Drill the legs to take the threaded inserts and fix, them in position with Araldite. After the top is glued into position, screw into the inserts with machine screws.

I used 12mm (¡¿in) MDF for the work surface, and it is held in position by four ash blocks glued and screwed into the four corners of the worktop frame. It is usual to cut slots for the screws in the blocks to allow for any movement that occurs but, as the MDF will not present this problem, it is not necessary. Set the MDF slightly below the sides of the frame so that when the covering is in place the vinyl will finish flush with the edges of the worktop.

Finally screw the work surface to the blocks using 38mm (1M in) 8 gauge screws. ,,

The finish is exactly the same as for the chair - a generous coat of Danish Oil followed by several coats of wax.

My client assures me that the desk and chair are the best of friends, and get along together just fine. All in all, I think the two pieces compliment each other well. ■

IN HARMONY 29

Dressing it up

Have you noticed that most of Editor Paul Richardson's projects are tables with drawers? Here's his excuse

below: a simplified version of a Hepplewhite original

THE MORE 17th and 18th century style furniture I make, the more I am impressed by the versatility of certain standard forms of construction developed over that period. Using these relatively simple conventions as building blocks, designers and craftsmen satisfying the ever-more discerning and demanding market of the Georgian and Regency periods, were able to produce a great diversity of specialised furniture types without having to reinvent the wheel every time.

This freedom from having to consider the fundamentals of how each piece was made must have contributed greatly to the refinement of proportion and decorative treatment that took place over the hundred years or so in question; if it is already known how the piece will be constructed, then more time and imagination can be applied to appearance and detail.

"This freedom from having to consider the fundamentals of how each piece was made must have contributed greatly to the refinement of proportion and decorative treatment that took place over the hundred years or so in question"

Adaptable

Of these standard forms, none is more adaptable than the table carcass. I seem to have spent half of my working life making pieces that use this simple and reliable arrangement, without feeling at all restricted. Basically anything with legs, a flat surface and a drawer or drawers can be made in this way -Pembroke and library tables are

Tapered legs

As, in this construction, all main carcass parts are jointed into the legs, these should be prepared first. Squareness is more than usually important so plane the stock obvious; but bonheur-du-jours, Carlton house desks and all manner of complicated-looking furniture can be made by adding a box-carcass superstructure to the top and adjusting a few details.

Further variety can be added by truncating the legs so that they are merely corner posts, allowing the carcass to be supported on a pedestal base. Some of the most extravagant Regency furniture is made in this way, sofa tables being a good example; end standards, pedestal columns on platform bases, and scroll-form supports with intermediate platforms and Regency knee legs, all being pressed into service.

1 made the dressing table shown here several years ago and it is almost as simple as a table carcass gets - made with only one drawer it would be the core building block. In appearance it is based on a Sheraton pattern, the original having a split, hinged top which opens to reveal a fitted interior with mirror rising on an easel. Splendid as this is, the client's budget didn't allow for so much work, so we settled on keeping the proportions but restricting the fitting to two straightforward drawers.

above:

Lower front rails are tenoned into the legs; runners are biscuited to the sides, note kickers glued in position

BELOW: Let in the boxwood line after fitting the drawers

above:

Lower front rails are tenoned into the legs; runners are biscuited to the sides, note kickers glued in position above left: Boxwood line let into the legs' arrises - fit for the castors before assembly

BELOW: Let in the boxwood line after fitting the drawers counter-productive here, as the amount of wood removed to make them weakens the leg; biscuits with high performance modern adhesives are a good balance.

In original examples I have seen drawer runners attached in a number of ways: glued in place with Scotch glue; nailed to the carcass sides -this in an otherwise high-quality Pembroke table - and dovetailed and tenoned into the legs as with the drawer rails.

A larger piece that might be dragged around - a biggish library table, for example -might warrant the extra security of dovetails and tenons, but here the front, sides and back are screwed to the top anyway, and as previously mentioned the legs are easily weakened by the cutting of innumerable mortices and sockets. Restorers are often faced with the repair of a split leg as a result - so once again biscuits are used, joining the runners to the carcass sides. To prevent twisting, the runners are cut round the back legs and pinned into them; at the front they are dowelled into the drawer rails.

carefully, then form the taper. This starts at the position of the lower drawer rail, and is cut on the two inner faces of each leg only.

Cutting tapers may be done in a number of ways; hand-planing is undemanding in the Brazilian mahogany (swietania macrophylla) used here, or jigs may be made for use with a table saw or thicknesser. I use a rather inadvisable technique on an overhand planer which I can't honestly recommend on safety grounds - it is a bad habit that I have fallen into. I hope you're not too shocked.

"Ideally the grain should run through both drawers and the rails, cut from a single pair of veneers, but on a tight budget..."

Boxwood line

If working in rosewood (dalbergia spp.) or satinwood (fagara flava), the next step would be to veneer the legs. In either case, though, a boxwood (buxus sempervirens) line is applied to the arrises, for which a rebate just smaller than the line must be cut. I do this with a router inverted in a table, and find that a closed fence - that is, a false fence through which the cutter is plunged, leaving zero clearance -gives the cleanest result. To further ensure a neat rebate, especially on veneered work, back-feed the material in the direction of the cutter's rotation. Normally this is a bad idea, but in this case the amount of stock removed is so small that, provided a firm grip is maintained, there shouldn't be a problem.

"I seem to have spent half of my working life making pieces that use this simple and reliable arrangement, without feeling at all restricted"

When rebates have been cut in all corners of the legs, glue the line in with PVA, carefully wiping off any surplus and holding in place with taut masking tape until dry. Scrape the line flush.

Next cut a tenon on each leg to fit square socket castors - don't leave it till later as it will be much more difficult when the table is assembled.

Drawer rails

The front of the carcass is archetypal in that it is formed by drawer rails; the uppermost being dovetailed into the top of the legs while the others are tenoned into their inner faces.

Note that the legs are proud of the carcass rails and sides by the thickness of the boxwood line.

I crossbanded the drawer rails to match the drawer fronts - this isn't absolutely necessary as they are mahogany anyway, but is more in period and unifies the front of the piece.

Cut the shoulders of all three drawer rails' joints - and, indeed, the carcass back - at the same time, ensuring that they are exactly the same, or problems will result. Cut mortices in the legs and the tenons to fit, then cut the dovetails on the ends of the top rail.

Transfer these dovetails to the top of their respective legs by marking round them with a knife, then take out the waste with a router, before paring back to the line with a chisel.

The front legs and drawer rails may now be glued up; tenons first then the dovetails.

Biscuits

The back and sides are traditionally tenoned or rabbeted into the legs; here I have used biscuits as the joint is quite long. This allows for a good number of biscuits to be fitted - less than three No. 20s would be inadequate, I feel, but four is plenty in a case such as this where the joints will not be heavily stressed. Over-sized 'proper' joints can be

Dovetail 4

Kicker

  • Runner •
  • Drawer stops

Biscuits join * legs to side and back stub tenons

* Dowels into front and drawer rails

"A larger piece that might be dragged around - a biggish library table, for example - might warrant the extra security of dovetails and tenons, but here the front, sides and back are screwed to the top anyway"

t MDF Veneered top

Oak sides and back*

,» MDF Veneered bottom

Foot cut to take socket of castor »'"

Assembly

Assembly order is fairly important; the front legs and rails are already glued up, so make up the back and back legs, then glue the runners to the sides. When these are dry complete the carcass by joining back and front with the sides, checking for square.

To give the piece a little visual lift, and to relieve the flatness of the carcass, a bought-in satinwood banding is applied to the lower edges. I use the word 'applied' deliberately as it is literally glued onto the surface, not let into a rebate. Not quite proper, I agree, but I rather like the effect.

Drawers

The drawers are standard issue, being dovetailed with oak (quercus spp.)

linings and mahogany fronts - the veneered MDF bottoms are fitted by means of drawer slips. The fronts are veneered with book-matched curl mahogany, the central join lining up with that of the top - ideally the grain should run through both drawers and the rails, cut from a single pair of veneers, but on a tight budget... always veneer drawer fronts after the drawers are made, by the

BELOW: Apply crossbanding and boxwood line at the same time

"Lay the crossbanding and line at the same time, working quickly and hammering towards the main veneer"

Possibilities

This table was bodied-up with amber varnish and given a slightly 'dirty' French polish so that it didn't look too new, and the castors and handles -both from Martin & Co. - were fitted.

This table was quick to make, and 1 hope that some of the possibilities of building on it are apparent - slightly heavier legs and a glazed superstructure on top as a display cabinet perhaps? Budget permitting, of course.

Supplier

Castors and handles from Martin & Co, 119 Camden Street, Birmingham, ESI 3DJ. Tel 0121 233 2111 or 0121 603 2111 fax 0121 236 0488.

below left: Oak-veneered mdf drawer bottoms are fitted in slips

BELOW: Apply crossbanding and boxwood line at the same time way - they are almost never veneered with a balancer on their backs, so might move unless restrained by the drawer's construction.

The boxwood line is fitted in the same way as that on the legs, but fit the drawers first to avoid narrowing the line when adjusting their fronts.

The top of this piece is veneered onto a groundwork of MDF, which is highly suitable for Scotch glue veneering, if sanded a little first. The following is a description of the order in which the top is veneered when using Scotch glue and a hammer - if you prefer some other method then skip the next couple of paragraphs and good luck to you.

Veneering

The top is first cut to finished size, then veneered on the reverse with plain mahogany. This balancing veneer is there to prevent the cupping that would otherwise occur if the top was veneered on its top surface only.

Prepare the two leaves of curl mahogany veneer for the top by sponging lightly with very hot water, then pressing between two boards of MDF or chipboard for a few hours. Cut sufficient satinwood crossbanding for the job - a paper-cutting guillotine is good for this, but a Stanley knife and straight edge will do - again wet it with hot water, and press it in a stack between the jaws of a vice until ready to use.

Trim the curl veneers to about 12mm (Min) shorter than the depth of the top.

Turn the top over, placing newspaper beneath, and mark the centre line onto the MDF with a ballpoint pen. Lay the first veneer with Scotch and a hammer overlapping this line, then the second overlapping the centre line by the same amount - but on the other side, if you see what I mean.

Lay a wooden straight edge along your marked line, and cut through both veneers with a sharp knife. Peel off the waste, and hammer down the join.

Crossbanding

Now; the next step is to trim the laid veneers for the crossbanding. I generally use a sharp cutting gauge for this, running along the edge of the groundwork, but again a wooden straight edge and knife will do. Whichever, cut a perimeter that is slightly smaller in depth than the combined width of your crossbanding and boxwood line. Again peel off the waste.

Lay the crossbanding and line at the same time, working quickly and hammering towards the main veneer. Cut each join by the overlap technique, and when you reach a corner do the same, cutting the mitre through both layers.

The edge is crossbanded in the same way.

Starling with dovetails

ABOVE: An Arts and Crafts toilet mirror - a good exercise in carcass and drawer dovetailing

In the first of a two-part project on making a dressing table mirror, Projects Editor Colin Eden-Eadon concentrates on carcass dovetails

JOY IS the opportunity to mix business with pleasure, like making this Arts & Crafts-style toilet mirror and drawer within the familiar confines of my timber-built garden workshop, from which I can take in glorious views of the Essex countryside.

I'm the first to admit that I'm luckier than some. At 18ft by 25ft, my workshop is a little bigger than most - and, as my wife is wont to remind me, is marginally larger than our living room!

This piece is designed to be made by woodworkers seeking to advance their skills, and uses tools I have in my own workshop - a banBsaw, a planer-thicknesser, a table-mounted router, my small Multico PM 12 morticer with drilling attachment, plus planes and chisels.

If, however, some of the machinery is not available, don't feel this project must be rejected, as most of the processes involved can be tackled with a router or by hand.

Materials

I chose American white oak (Quercus alba) for the main carcass. Brazilian mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) for the drawer sides and English walnut (Juglans regia) for the feet and handles provide a pleasing contrast to the oak.

Machine up all the stock material for the carcass first and leave over-thickness, resting the wood under weights for a few days before planing to final thickness. This is particularly important with American white oak which is prone to honeycombing - a defect rather like a shake due to poor kilning.

above! No cross-cut saw! Use a shooting board to square the ends of carcass components

above: Marking pins from tails -note the weight holding things in position and the double-ended, alternate bevel marking knife

above: Marking the mitre

ABOVE: Chopping out the pins - note the angle at which the chisel is held; doing this from both faces leaves a 'hill'

above: As the ends of the carcass joints are mitred, the back's rebate can be run through. Here a table-mounted router is used, but a rebate plane would do as well

ABOVE: Marking the carcass dovetails using a home-made wooden block and a pencil sharpened to a chisel point. Note the hatching of the waste area to be cut out

Main carcass

Having prepared the carcass material, the pieces can be cut to length and width. I have no powered cross-cut saw so I am a devotee of the shooting board.

Mark to length and scribe around with a marking knife, then cut on the bandsaw close to the line, planing to it on the shooting board. Before preparing to mark out the dovetails, drawer stop mortices must be cut into the front edge of the bottom piece of the carcass - a job which will be impossible once the carcass is glued up, see drawing.

This can be accomplished with either a hollow chisel morticer or a router, cleaned out with a chisel.

Next, mark the carcass thickness for the dovetails. I allow an extra 1mm (%iin) of thickness to allow for cleaning up on both the tails and the pins. I then mark round all the pieces with a marking gauge.

Before marking out the dovetails, rebates for the back need to be considered. I wanted to avoid stopped rebates where possible, so I chose to use mitres as this allows the rebate for the back to be cut all the way through.

For continuity's sake I put a mitre on the front as well as the back.

Dovetails

Talk to individual makers and they will probably have their own idiosyncratic methods of marking out and cutting dovetails. Take the old chestnut of whether to do tails or pins first: I am a tails first man, partly because it was the way I was taught and also because it seems to me to have logical sequence.

As to setting out, some makers will be extremely mathematical and precise, others will rely completely on judgement by eye. My own method is a combination of the two: I consider the number of tails that I think will both look pleasing and also fit the width of the carcass.

Having decided that five dovetails fitted this particular bill, I divided the width of the carcass by five (165mm minus 12mm for the back rebate and the front mitre). This leaves 153mm, which divided by 5 equals 30.6mm. This space is equivalent to one tail and half a pin.

Mark these on the wood and square a line down on each of above: Marking pins from tails -note the weight holding things in position and the double-ended, alternate bevel marking knife the marks. Next, decide what size the pin is to be. I would advise against making it too small if these are a first attempt at dovetails.

Another consideration at this juncture is chisel size; there's no point deciding on delicate pins only to discover the lack of a chisel small enough to clean them up with.

Marking out

Using a dovetail marker or a sliding bevel, mark out half a pin on each side of the line. Repeat this process until all five marks have a complete pin.

I like to use an H or 2H pencil with a chisel point for certain types of marking out. I mark out the tails in pencil then, if a mistake is made, an ugly knife line does not mar the work; a little wander off the original line will probably not show.

Mark the waste area of the pins with hatching to avoid any confusion - people have been known to cut out the wrong piece...

Cut the tails of each side individually or, if feeling really brave, cramp the two together and cut in one go.

With a coping saw, cut out the waste. I then like to remark the gauged line in the shoulder area of the pins by taking a square and

ABOVE: Chopping out the pins - note the angle at which the chisel is held; doing this from both faces leaves a 'hill'

BELOWt Paring the 'hill' flat and square to the face

BOTTOM: Testing the fit. Don't dry-fit dovetails any further than this or they may be damaged when taken apart above! No cross-cut saw! Use a shooting board to square the ends of carcass components above: As the ends of the carcass joints are mitred, the back's rebate can be run through. Here a table-mounted router is used, but a rebate plane would do as well

ABOVE: Marking the carcass dovetails using a home-made wooden block and a pencil sharpened to a chisel point. Note the hatching of the waste area to be cut out above: Marking the mitre

Threaded rod (

Veneered back

Walnut knob

Post tenoned or dowelled into foot

Mitre

Mahogany drawer side

Housing for foot

Veneered back

Drawer stop

Walnut foot

Walnut knob

Threaded rod (

are now marked and sawn near to the line.

Find a piece of scrap that is about the length of the carcass and 50mm (2in) in thickness, setting it level with one of the side pieces in the vice. Place the relevant carcass piece on top with a heavy weight to stop it moving, and carefully scribe the tails, see photo.

Repeat this process for each piece and square down with a

Housing for foot

Veneered back

Drawer stop

Walnut foot

Veneered back

Walnut knob

Post tenoned or dowelled into foot

Mitre

Mahogany drawer side

Walnut knob

Veneered drawer bottom knifing the lines again, see photo.

Set up the piece in bench dogs or cramp to the bench with a couple of G cramps.

Place the correctly sized chisel on the knife line and then chop with a mallet at a slight angle. This will cut to the line, leaving a slight 'hill' in the middle.

Turn the work over and repeat from the other side. Being a lazy person, I do the next stage sitting down. While some

Mitres» tail sockets

Mitres, which are fitted more easily after the dovetails are cut, people prefer to do their paring on the bench, I am more comfortable seated, and in a better position to see what I am doing. Clamp one piece in the vice and pare down until the hill in the middle that was created in each pin socket is flat - check this with a square.

T 61

LEFT! Principle dimensions in mm - may be adjusted to suit

knife. These lines can be difficult to see, especially for those of us with poor eyesight. This is where a sharp 2H pencil comes in; running the point in the knife line highlights and clarifies it.

Again, hatch the waste areas to be cut out and re-mark the shoulder areas of the sockets with a knife. Saw right up against the waste side of the line, then cut out the socket middles with a coping saw. Clean up using the same process as before.

Check for fit by tapping the joint - gently - part-way together with a hammer and block. Tapping all the way is a little risky with small cross-grained pieces; these can be difficult to separate because there is so little to hold on to.

TUNING UP

They should be a tight fit, but not so tight that a sledgehammer is required! Pare very carefully back to the knife lines to correct any wander.

The mitres can now be fitted and trued up.

Applying finish

Make life easier by cleaning up all inside surfaces now rather than when the piece is assembled, and apply your preferred finish.

As with any gluing-up operation, preparation is the key to success. I always prepare some sash cramps to the right size even if I do not eventually use them. They can be very useful just for the final little squeeze needed to pull up a joint.

Cutting some cramping blocks with cut-outs the same size as the tails will help to maximise the cramp pressure if necessary. I also find that covering the bench top with a melamine-faced board provides an easy wipe-down surface that can be bashed around and generally abused in the controlled calmness of every glue-up. ■

In the next article Colin describes how he made the drawer, mirror frame, posts and feet

Good lighting will improve the chances of success with dovetail cutting. An anglepoise light over the back of the bench will help considerably when it comes to peering through pins and tails.

Some of the tools used for marking out dovetails can be tuned up in a number of ways to improve their performance.

Most marking gauges come with a round pin that extends too far from the stock.This not only makes for awkward use, but also produces a very scratchy line. I was taught to knock the pin back until only about 3mm protrudes. By carefully sharpening this to a chisel point a clean cutting action allows accurate knife-like marking out.

For most marking out my personal preference is a Japanese knife. However, when scribing dovetails I use a home-made knife that is ground with the opposite bevel on each end.

This is because although slightly ambidextrous, I do find scribing the left-hand side of a dovetail difficult with a marking knife that has the bevel on the right-hand side.A double-ended reversible knife made from a piece of old bandsaw or hacksaw blade solves this problem.

Another useful aid is a home-made dovetail template made from various materials. Mine is from an offcut of oak, but thin sheet metal, brass or even one milled out of solid metal would suffice.

Mirror finish

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