Start by drilling six countersunk screw holes through the rail; it will be less cumbersome to prepare the rail for the top before joining the rail and column. Locate one hole in each corner of the flat face of the rail's underside and one on each side of the mortise. Then set the top face down on a work surface and center the rail on top, making sure the grain of the two pieces is perpendicular. Mark the corners of the rail on the top with a pencil and the screw holes with an awl (above, left). To prepare the column for the rail, use a backsaw to slice a kerf for a wedge in the center of the tenon to a depth of about three-quarters the length of the tenon. Cut the kerf at a right angle to one of the dovetail sockets so the rail will be parallel to one of the legs. Cut the wedge from hardwood about 1 inch long and Va inch thick at the base, tapering it to a point. To fasten the rail to the column, spread glue on their contacting surfaces and fit the pieces together with the kerf in the column tenon perpendicular to the grain of the rail. Then, holding the column upright on a work surface, apply glue in the kerf and on the wedge and hammer it in place with a wooden mallet (above, right). Trim the wedge flush with the end of the tenon.
2 Fastening the legs to the column
Spread glue evenly on the dovetails and in the sockets. Then, setting the rail flat on a work surface, slide the legs into place and tap them into final position with a wooden mallet (right). To strengthen the assembly, add a three-armed spider cut from sheet metal (page 78).
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