Introduction: Dining Table With Side Extensions
This dining room table is made from solid cherry hardwood. This table can seat six people (42” wide and 72” long) and can accommodate 10 people (60” wide and 72” long) with the two side extensions.
The use of hand cut veneers was used for the top and pedestals to maximize the use of a 2” thick 9” wide board that was highly figured. The 3/32” thick veneers are laminated onto solid cherry hardwood.
This project has seven bent laminations that require two custom bending forms. This project also requires extensive use of jigs.
The curved top support, feet, stretcher are made with 18 layers of 3/16” thick, 1 ¾” tall and 46” long strips of cherry laminated together and bent along a form.
The two vertical pedestals are 1 ½” thick, 18” wide and 27” tall. They were constructed using two pieces of 3/8”and 3 three pieces of 1/8” thick bending plywood and formed using a vacuum press. They were then edge banded with ¾” x 1 ½” cherry and faced with 3/32” thick hand cut cherry veneers.
This project requires basic woodworking skills and access to woodworking machines. Woodworking machines have sharp cutting edges and are NOT forgiving. You should be properly trained in the use of these machines. Ensure that you wear safety glasses and hearing protection, use push sticks, hold-downs , clamps and a cutting sled to cut the project parts safely.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being very difficult, this project is a “9.5“.
- Approximately 100 board feet of 2” rough sawn thick cherry .
- ½” x 3” x 24” Makassar Ebony blank
- 150 to 220 grit sandpaper and 0000 steel wool.
- Yellow woodworkers glue
- 16 @3/8” x 18 tpi and 6 @ ¼” x 20 tpi threaded inserts
- 16 @3/8” x 1 ¼” hex bolts with washers
- 6 @ 3/8” bullet catches
Tools & Equipment Utilized:
- Table saw with a crosscut sled
- Router table and router bits
- Band saw
- Staple gun
- Horizontal mortising machine
- Drill press
- 8” jointer
- Vacuum bag
- Planner and/or drum sander
- Block and jointer planes
- Bar, pipe and toggle clamps
Step 1: Materials List
Step 2: The Construction Process
There are three aspects of this table that makes it unique: the trestle base, the side extensions and the use of hand cut veneers.
The vertical pedestals are curved bent laminations as are their top and bottom supports.
These laminations require multiple steps and require the construction of several forms and jigs.
It is best to start the construction process with the trestle base and the bent laminations.
Throughout I will refer to the center line marks on the curved component parts and jigs. I cannot stress enough the importance of marking the center of all the trestle component parts. The center line will be the reference for all the cutting and joinery.
The two side extensions connect to the top with dovetail ways. This also requires the use of several jigs.
The top, side extensions, pedestals and stretcher are all veneered. The veneer is highly figured cherry that is cut on the band saw from several 1 ½” x 9” x 120” boards. The veneer is cut 5/32” thick and milled to 1/8”.
Step 3: Stock Selection
You will need six pieces of rough lumber that are 1 ¾” thick, 9” to 10” wide and 7’ long for the top.
Use will also need five pieces of 1 ¾” thick, 4 ½” wide and 48” long for the stretcher, top cleat and base.
In addition, three pieces of 1 ¾” thick, 4” wide and 6’ long for the base structure.
The above measurements take into account waste. I always oversize pieces until they have gone through the initial milling stages.
Rough cut these pieces in preparation for milling. I use the band saw to rip the boards to 8” wide since that is the widest board my jointer can handle.
Step 4: Stock Preparation: Milling
The purpose of the milling procedure is to produce lumber that is flat, has square edges and is cut to rough size.
Site down the length of each board and identify the best surface to flatten. Using a jointer, flatten one side of each board.
Using a planner make the opposite face of each board flat and parallel to the jointed face. Thickness each board to the same thickness. Depending on how straight the boards were when obtained you should end up with boards that are between 1 5/8” to 1 11/16”.
Once the faces of the boards are flat and parallel use the jointer to make one edge square to the faces.
On the table saw make the opposite edge parallel to the jointed edge.
Step 5: Cutting Veneers for the Table Top
I choose to veneer the top of the table and the pedestals with highly figured wood. I used one piece for the top and another board for the pedestals and leafs. The width of the top veneer was 9” and 8” for the other veneers.
With the wood selected I marked the end of the boards. These marks provide me with the orientation and sequence of cuts in order to create an effective design.
Using the bandsaw I cut veneers 5/32” thick.
I then used a wide belt sander to remove the saw marks and reduce the thickness to 1/8”.
When veneering you introduce moisture from the glue. In order to create equilibrium, you need to veneer both sides of the piece of wood.
After selecting the solid wood for the top, I marked the ends and cut a veneer from the bottom side. Doing this ensured that the cut veneer would be glued back to the same board. This would seem to be a wasted step but you need to glue a veneer to create equilibrium, otherwise the board may warp.
Step 6: Milling the Boards for the Table Top & Side Extensions
The lumber for the table top was milled flat and square. The bottom of each piece was cut into a veneer. Each board was then run through a wide belt sander to flatten the cut side and dimensioned them to 1 3/8” thick. The boards are 9” wide to match the veneer for the top.
Each piece of lumber was marked with an identifier and the top surface was indicated with an arrow. The growth rings where alternated in order to reduce warping.
The lumber was stickered until it was ready to adhere the veneers.
The side extensions are also veneered with highly figured cherry. They same milling and veneering process as described above.
The side extensions will be 9” wide and 72” long but are only 1” thick. They are edge and end banded to make them appear to be 1 ½” thick.
More information on the side extensions to follow.
Step 7: Veneering the Boards for the Table Top
When veneering you need a flat stable surface to apply pressure.
I created a veneer press by using my workbench. I cut five pieces of ¾” MDF the size of my workbench and placed three of them on top off the workbench.
Twelve 3 ½” x 3 ½” x 25” cauls were used to clamp the veneers to the boards.
Two 9” wide boards were veneered at the same time. They were spaced on the 25” wide base with equal spaces on the edges and in the middle.
A thin layer of yellow glue was applied to one side of the board and then the veneer was laid on.
The board was flipped and the process repeated to add the other veneer. Blue masking tape was applied to hold the veneers in place.
This process was repeated for the second board.
Another two sheets of ¾” MDF was laid on top of the veneered boards and the cauls were equally space along the length. Starting from the middle and working outward, 24 pipe clamps were placed and tightened. The boards were left in place overnight to dry.
This process was repeated for the eight boards that comprised the top and the side extensions.
Step 8: Gluing the Boards for the Table Top
After each board was veneered they were cut close to their final width, 7 1/8”.
Using a jointer each edge was joined square and then hand planed to remove the jointer marks. This reduced the width to 7”.
A Domino Jointer was used to position five tenons along the edges of the boards. These tenons were used for positioning and aligning the boards, not for strength, the long grain to long grain edge gluing provided adequate strength.
The table top was first glued up in half. Three boards where glued together. The process repeated for the other three boards.
Clamps were set across the boards and cauls applied pressure across the top surface to help ensure flatness.
Step 9: Gluing the Boards for the Table Top
The two half’s were then glued together in the same manner.
Clamps applied side pressure and cauls applied downward pressure to ensure a flat surface.
The top was at its final width but the ends needed to be cut to achieve a final length of 72”.
Step 10: Base, Top Supports & Stretcher
The pedestal support system attaches to the bottom of the table top with machine bolts. Because the pedestals are curved the corresponding base and table supports have to follow the same curve.
The curve is produced using a template. This template becomes the “master” template in creating the bending forms for the pedestals, base support and feet.
The process is detailed in the following steps.
Step 11: Making the Master Template
This master template is critical in making the curved parts for the pedestals, base support and feet.
The curve was made by using a thin strip of wood bent around a center point and two end points. I drew the center line on a piece of ¼” medium density fiberboard (MDF). On a 9” x 45” long piece of MDF I drew the final size of the base, 3 ½” wide and 42” long. I extended the length to 45” to give me a little wiggle room.
I then traced the curve and cut it on the bandsaw leaving a 1/16” overage.
With a file, I smoothed the edges to eliminate any irregularities. In order to ensure that the curve was symmetrical, I traced the curve on a piece of craft paper with a center and base line. Flipping the template over and aligning the center and base lines, I checked the curve and identified areas that needed refinement. I did this until both sides were symmetrical.
This ¼” “master” template is used to create a ¾” MDF jig. This jig is used for routing the bending forms for the pedestals, base support and feet.
The center line needs to be transferred to all the curved component parts throughout the construction process.
The importance of marking a center line on every curved part is CRITICAL.
The center line will be the primary reference throughout the construction process.
Step 12: Making the Bending Form for the Base, Top Supports & Stretcher
Cut three pieces of ¾” MDF 9” x 45”. Mark the center of each piece.
Place the ¼” master template on each piece and traced the curve.
Using the band saw cut the curve 1/16” outside the traced line on all three MDF blanks.
Screw the master template to one of the ¾” MDF blanks and use a bottom bearing pattern bit trim it flush to the template. This ¾” MDF template becomes the base for the bent lamination form.
Glue the other two MDF blanks onto the routed piece with the back edge flush to the base. Make sure they hang over the trimmed piece. The center lines should align.
When the glue is dry, use a 3” top bearing pattern bit to trim the overhang of the bottom two MDF boards flush to the trimmed piece.
Step 13: Making the Bending Form for the Base and Top Supports
It is important to have the clamping pressure perpendicular to the form.
To achieve even clamping pressure determine the placement of the clamps and cut the back side of the form parallel to the front edge at each clamp position. This creates four steps on each side of the center of the jig.
Mount the form on a 13” x 48” piece of ¾” MDF. Apply packing tape to the base. This will prevent gluing the lamination to the base.
Cut 20 strips of 1/8” bending plywood or 10 strips of ¼” MDF 2” x 48”. Use one piece of packing tape in the center to bind the bundle of strips together. Either will serve as a clamping caul in the bending form.
Step 14: Bending the Base, Top Supports & Stretcher
The bases, top supports and stretcher are bent laminations made from 18 strips of 3/16” x 1 ¾” x 45” pieces of cherry hardwood.
I could have cut the curves from wide boards but that would have created “short grain”, which is weaker and less attractive. Bent laminations are stronger and when finished will look like one piece of wood.
The finished width of these bent laminations is 3 ½”. They will be cut to three different lengths.
I selected five pieces of rough sawn cherry wood 4 ½” x 2” x 48” and milled them flat and square.
I marked the ends in order to keep the sequence of cuts in order.
I used a band saw to cut the strips ¼” thick and then sanded them smooth to 3/16” thick. I then marked the top surface with a reference mark to ensure that they were in the correct order when being glued.
I laid them out and applied glue to one side of each strip. Stacked them together making sure that the sequence was correct.
I used twenty 1/8” x 1 ¾” x 48” strips of bending plywood as a clamping caul. I also used an ¾” x 1 ¾” square block of MDF on the head of each clamp to apply equal pressure along the form. Make sure to keep the tops of the strips flat.
Use 11 pipe clamps. Start in the middle of the form and apply clamping pressure. Let the glue dry overnight.
Joint one side flat on the jointer and then make the other side parallel with a thickness planner.
Step 15: Curved Pedestals
The pedestals utilize the same curve as the base supports and stretcher. These pedestals can be made from solid wood or with multiple laminations. There are pluses and minuses with both methods.
The most significant issue with making the pedestals from solid wood is wood movement. The joinery has to account for wood expansion and contraction or the pedestal will split. The pedestal would be made from many pieces of wood each cut at a angel to accommodate the curve. Grain matching would be critical to ensure a unified look. Once glued together the convex and concave surfaces would need to be planed or sanded to achieve a smooth curve. This would require a radius plane or curved scrapper for the concave surface. A lot of hand work would be required to ensure a smooth curve.
Making the pedestals from a plywood core also presents obstacles. A bending form has to be constructed and a vacuum bag is required to bend the pieces. The benefits of a bent lamination is that it is very stable and is not subject to changes in humidity. More joinery options are available with a bent lamination. A veneer skin can be applied providing a more consistent and cohesive look. This process is also time consuming, requiring two forms and separate processes for core lamination, edge banding and veneering.
I decided to make the pedestals using bent laminations. The process follows.
Step 16: Making the Pedestal Bending Form
The ¼” MDF “master” template is used to create a ¾” MDF routing jig. This jig is used to make the pieces for the pedestal bending form.
It is CRITICAL to draw the center line on every jig and component part. This ensures proper registration. The center lines are used throughout the construction process.
The bending form for the pedestals is 22” wide and 25” long. It will be comprised of 23 pieces of ¾” MDF spaced ¾” apart.
The pieces for the pedestal bending form needs to be exact and identical. I used a cross cut sled on the table saw to cut 23 ¾” MDF pieces to the same length.
The routing jig is made with a fence and toggle clamps to hold the stock while routing the curve.
A pattern bit with a bottom bearing is used to form the ribs of the bending form. A router table or shaper can be used to route the parts.
Step 17: Making the Pedestal Bending Form
The pedestal bending form is comprised of a stack of curved pieces called “ribs”. This form has to be made so that every piece is aligned precisely. Any inconsistencies will be visible when the pedestal is formed in the vacuum press.
Two pieces of ½” Appleply plywood are used to create a frame that holds the curved MDF pieces. Each MDF curved piece is stapled to the frame independently when positioned. Clamps are used to ensure that the base of each rib is flush to the plywood frame and another clamp provides downward pressure to ensure that the ribs are aligned to the preceding ribs.
Start with one curved piece on the bottom. Align the ½” plywood frame. Take your time to ensure that the curved MDF piece is flush to the sides and bottom of the frame. Use a staple gun to secure each “rib” to the frame.
Use a scrap piece of ¾” MDF as a spacer and continue to build the form ensuring that each MDF piece is aligned to the previous pieces. I used clamps throughout this process to ensure proper alignment.
After the form was secured, the spacers were removed. I added 2 additional pieces of MDF between the last sets of curved pieces. This provided me a way to secure the pedestal during the lamination process.
Notice that the center line is clearly marked on the two ends of the form.
The importance of marking a center line on every curved part is CRITICAL.
The center line will be the primary reference throughout the construction process.
Step 18: Making the Pedestal Bending Form
The bending form requires a smooth top. I cut a piece of ¼” MDF slightly oversized and glued it to the top of the ribs.
I used the rib cut-offs from the band saw as clamping cauls.
It is important to secure the MDF skin without any flat spots. Any inconsistencies will telegraph through when the pedestal is formed in the vacuum press.
Step 19: Core Lamination for the Pedestals
The core for the pedestals is made from 5 layers of bending plywood; three layers of 3/8” and two layers of 1/8” bending plywood.
Cut the bending plywood to 22” wide and 25” long. Mark the center of each layer on both ends.
Use yellow woodworkers glue and spread evenly on one side of each piece. Lay each layer onto the form and stack them together. Lay down one sheet of the 3/8” bending plywood, then a 1/8” ply, a 3/8” piece followed by another 1/8” sheet and finally the top 3/8” sheet.
Once all the layers are stacked, drill a hole at each end of the stack at the center line. Set a screw through the plywood stack into the form. This will hold the stack in registration.
Place the form with the glued ply's into the vacuum bag.
Seal the bag and turn on the vacuum. The vacuum press applies about 1500 pounds per square inch on the form.
The glue will dry in a few hours but you can leave it in the vacuum press overnight.
Turn off the vacuum press and remove the form. Unscrew the pedestal core.
Repeat process for the second core.
Step 20: Edge Banding for the Pedestals
The core was made oversized. The length will be trimmed after the edge banding and outside veneers have been applied.
In order to apply the edge banding, the core width is trimmed to 17” and cut at 90 degrees. A table saw jig is made using the same jig that was used to make the pedestal bending form. The jig utilizes the miter slot on the table saw. Careful alignment and registration is critical.
Align the center line on the core with the center line on the table saw jig. Screw the core to the jig and position the jig on the table saw.
Raise the blade and make the first cut.
Unscrew the core and turn it around to cut the other core edge. Repeat this process with the other pedestal core.
Mill two pieces of cherry 1” x 1 ¾” x 25”.
Use yellow woodworkers glue and clamps to secure the edge banding on both pedestals.
Mark the curve onto the ends of the edge banding as a planing guide.
Use hand planes to remove the waste and level the edge banding to conform to the curve of the core. The edge banding MUST be level to the surfaces of the core. The blue masking tape serves as a planing guide to ensure that you don’t cut into the core.
Step 21: Veneering the Pedestals
The pedestals are covered with a veneer sheet. The veneer is 3/32” thick. There are three pieces of 6 ½” x 25” slipped match veneer. These three pieces need to be edged glued together to form a single veneer sheet.
The best way to do this is to use wedges and a gluing platform.
Apply glue to the matching edges of the three veneers. Lay them down on the platform.
Use blue masking tape to tightly mate the edges. Use wedges to apply inward pressure to ensure a tight joint.
Place pieces of MDF covered with packing tape over the joints. This will apply downward pressure to ensure the veneers lie flat. Place bricks on top of the MDF boards to apply more downward pressure.
Repeat process until you have four sheets of veneer prepared.
Step 22: Veneering and Sizing the Pedestals
The veneer sheets are glued to the edge banded core using the pedestal form and the vacuum bag.
Spread glue onto the concave side of the core and apply a sheet of veneer. Turn the core over, spread with a film of yellow glue and apply the other veneer sheet. Tape the veneers to the core with blue masking tape.
Repeat process for both pedestals.
The completed pedestal is now ready to be trimmed to size. The same jig used to square up the edges for edge banding is used to trim the pedestal to final size. Set pedestal on the jig and align the center lines.
You will have to re-align the jig runner that utilizes the table saw miter slot.
Set the saw blade to 90 degrees and cut one edge. Turn the pedestal around (not the jig) and cut the other edge. Repeat process for the other pedestal.
Use a platform to hold the pedestal to your workbench and plane the saw marks on the cut edges.
The pedestals are now at the correct width but will still have to be cut to length.
Set the table saw fence and trim one end of the pedestal square. Repeat with second pedestal. Cut pedestals to 25 ½” in length.
Step 23: Joinery Jig for Pedestals
One of the most challenging aspects of this project is to figure out how to manage the alignment of curved parts. It is the “creative problem solving” that is fun for me.
I used the cut-offs from the pedestal to create a doweling jig to attached the pedestals to the base and table support.
I decided to use seven ½” wood dowels for the joinery. The position of the dowels has to be exact on the mating surfaces or they will not align.
Once again, using the center lines as the reference point ensures proper alignment.
I secured seven ½” steel drill guides into the jig. I also drilled three holes for screws to attach the jig to the component parts for drilling.
In order to ensure proper alignment I marked the top face with an identifier, ”Peds Face Up”. The bottom of the jig is marked “Base Face Up”. I flipped the jig as indicated to ensure that the mating surfaces would be perfectly matched.
Step 24: Joinery Jig for Pedestals
Align the center line on the jig to the center line on the base/feet supports.
The jig has to be center in the width of these component parts. I used a mortise gauge to determine the setback.
Use clamps to hold the jig and then screw the jig to the base/feet support.
Use a ½” drill bit and drill the holes. Blue masking tape on the drill bit serves as a depth guide of 1 ¼” so you do not drill through the base/feet supports.
Once the four base/feet supports are drilled, align the jig onto the ends of the pedestals and drill the dowel holes 1 ½” deep.
Step 25: Laying Out the Base Support System
The base support is comprised of three 3 ½” x 1 ½” x 72” pieces of cherry and two of the bent laminations.
The two outside supports are positioned 4” from the outside edge of the table top. The middle support is centered in the table width. Mark the positions of the long supports making sure to mark the center lines for each support.
Position these supports according to the layout lines. Clamp them in place. Recheck the positioning to ensure they are accurately placed.
All the table supports will be screwed to the table top with machine bolts and threaded inserts. The three straight supports are secured to the table top with 4 bolts equally spaced. Layout the location of these bolts and use the same location to temporarily secure these supports to the table with wood screws.
Position the two cross pieces on the long supports and center them using the center lines.
The setback of the center of the pedestals is 16” from the end of the table. This provides enough room for those sitting at the ends to avoid hitting their knees on the pedestal.
Mark the intersection of the cross pieces very carefully.
The joinery used for these piece are half-lap joints. This means that half the thickness of both pieces have to be removed.
Step 26: Joinery for the Base Support System
The best way to make the half lap joints in the long supports is with a jig with the same curve as the cross pieces.
Using the master template created earlier, a two piece jig is made using ¾” MDF. The distance between the two pieces of the jig is the width of the cross pieces plus the offset of the router bushing and router bit (approximately 1/8”). Make a series of trial cuts to establish the correct distance. You want a good fit but not so tight that you have to hammer the pieces together.
Use a router with a ½” straight bit and a guide bushing. The bushing follows the jig.
The jig has outriggers that are positioned to capture the long supports. Clamps are used to secure the jig to the long supports.
Take time and care to position the jig.
Set the router bit depth at approximately 1 ½” ( ¾” for the MDF jig and ¾” for the half lap). Adjust accordingly.
Route the half laps in all three long supports at one end of the table. Place a crosspiece to ensure fit. Make adjustments if necessary.
Reposition the jig on the other end. Make sure the setback is consistent with the first crosspiece.
Route the half lap joints.
Step 27: Joinery for the Base Support System
The best way to make the half lap joints in the curve cross pieces is on the table saw.
Once again you need to create a jig using the master template. Use a ¾” piece of MDF 8” wide and 44” long and route the curve using the master template.
Mount the MDF curve onto a piece of plywood. This jig will be cut while performing this operation.
Mount three ¾” MDF blocks to secure the toggle clamps that will hold the curved crosspiece in place.
Position the mounting blocks so the screws that hold them to the template are NOT where the half lap joints will be cut.
Use a cross cut sled to hold the cutting jig. Set the blade height to ¾” above the jig. Make test cuts to ensure that the blade height is set correctly.
The saw kerf is usually 1/8” to 3/16”. You will be moving the jig in 1/8” increments to make the 3 ½” wide half lap. A dado blade set could be used to expedite this process but I did not want to have a wide throat in my crosscut sled.
Position the cutting jig at one edge of a half lap joint. Make a cut. Move the jig over and make another cut. Repeat making a series of cuts to achieve a 3 ½” wide half lap. Check the cuts to ensure a good fit.
Repeat process for all three half laps and then do the same for the other cross piece.
Step 28: Sizing the Base Support & Feet
Use the same cutting jib that was used to make the half laps to cut the base support and feet to length.
The top base support is set back from the table edge 2” on both ends, 38” in total length. Mark the two supports accordingly.
The feet extend past the edges of the pedestal 4” on both ends, 26” in total length.
Set the table saw blade to cut through the stock.
Position the jig and make these cuts.
Step 29: Pedestal Assembly
Step 30: Attaching Base to Table Top
The base is attached to the table top with twenty 3/8” x 1 ¼” x 20 tpi machine bolts into threaded inserts. Metal washers are used with each bolt. Accuracy is important. The tolerance will be less than 1/8”.
Layout the holes in the base support system. Four holes in each of the table support pieces.
Use a drill press fitted with a 1 ¼” Forstner bit and drill a recess hole 3/8” deep. This will hide the head of the machine bolts and washers.
After the recess holes are drilled, change to a 5/8” drill bit and drill through the center of each recess. This oversized hole allows for the seasonal wood movement of the solid wood top.
Assemble and align the table support system onto the bottom of the table top. Ensure that the support system is properly aligned and accurately mark the location of each hole.
The hole for the threaded insert is 9/16”. The hole needs to be drilled perpendicular to the table surface. Using a hand held drill is not a good option because it is almost impossible to drill a perpendicular hole.
I used a plunge router with a custom made base plate and a 9/16” router bit. This afforded me to ability to accurately position the router bit and make a perpendicular hole. The base plate needed to extend to the center of the table top for the center holes. Once those holes were drilled, I cut the router base to accommodate the holes for the edge supports. I used clamps to hold the base in position. This process produced perfectly straight holes for the threaded inserts.
Step 31: Attaching Base to Table Top
I used brass threaded inserts. There is a special tool that fits into the inserts to thread them into the holes.
I find that using a countersink bit to chamfer the holes makes it easier to install the threaded inserts.
I installed the inserts using a “T” bar to hold the insert tool.
Step 32: Cutting the Dovetail Ways for Side Extensions
The side extensions are held in place with six ¾” thick maple sliding dovetail rails, three on each side. The dovetail ways are cut in the underside of the table and are ¾” deep, 8 ½” long and 2” wide.
Use a ½” straight bit and a 7 degree dovetail bit to make the dovetail ways.
A jig is made from ½” Appleply. The jig is attached to the underside of the table with wood screws positioned to be hidden by the long supports.
The dovetail ways are place 4” and 36” from the end of the table.
Use a ½” straight router bit and a guide bushing to remove the majority of the slot.
Change to a 7 degree dovetail bit. Set the depth of cut to match the depth of cut of the straight bit and route the dovetail along the edge of the slot.
Step 33: Making the Dovetailed Rails
Mill 2 ½” wide 1” thick strips of maple 18” long.
Setup the router table is a 7 degree dovetail bit.
Run a test strip to determine the bit height against a dovetailed way. Make adjustments as necessary.
Route small increments (1/16”) at a time on both sides of stock.
The six dovetailed ways will most likely be slight different even though you did everything the same, so you have to custom fit each extension rail. Mark the extension rails to correspond to the dovetailed way.
Using 1” thick stock will generate a shoulder on the top side of the stock. This is useful since it establishes a shoulder to register against the out-feed side of the router table fence. Otherwise you will have to offset the out-feed router table fence by the amount of stock removed.
Once all the dovetailed extensions are made, use the bandsaw to remove the top shoulder.
Step 34: Joinery for the Side Extensions
A same jig that was used to cut the dovetail ways in the underside of the table top is used to route the recesses for the extension arms in the side extensions.
These recesses are used to adjust the height of the side extensions to be flush with the table top.
Insert the dovetail rails into the dovetailed slot and lay the side extension on top of the extending rails. Mark the location of each rail onto the underside of the side extension.
The jig is held in place with clamps across the width of the side extensions.
Align the jig to the layout lines.
Use a ½” straight bit with a guide bushing. Set the depth of cut to match the measurement needed to create a flush side extension.
After the sides are fitted, mark the ends to match the table top length and cut the side extensions to those marks with a cross cut saw.
The sides also utilize a ¼” x 20 tpi threaded insert set into the mortise for the dovetailed cleat. A knurled thumb screw is used to secure the extension sides to the dovetailed rails. A 3/8” hole is drilled into the cleat. The position of the hole is transferred when the side extension is set in place.
Drill a 3/8” hole ½” deep in the marked location on the underside of the side extension. Inset the threaded insert.
Step 35: Side Extension Inlays
When the sides extensions are used an inlay is used to fit into the mortise of the dovetail way.
The most important purpose of the inlay is to level the side extensions to the table top.
The inlays fits into the mortise made in the previous steps.
The inlays are cut and screwed to the side extensions.
Positioning of these inlays is critical.
The side extensions lay on the dovetailed cleats and are secured by ¼” x 20 tpi knurled thumb screws.
Step 36: Edge & End Banding for the Side Extensions
The side extensions are 1” thick to accommodate the ¾” extension rail.
To make them the same thickness of the table top a ½” x 2” piece of wood is glued to the edges and the ends.
The piece of wood used for the edge is long grain. The end pieces are end grain.
The mating ends of these pieces are cut at a 45 degree angle so the corners will look like a single piece of wood.
Mill these pieces and glue them to the underside of the side extensions.
The edges now have a seam where the two pieces of wood are glued. To hide this seam I glued a thin strip of veneer to the edges of both side extensions. Once the glue dried I used a hand plane to remove the overhang.
Step 37: Mortising the Pedestals
The stretcher is attached to the pedestals with a loose tenon joint. The mortise is ½” wide and 2” long.
The positioning of the mortises in both pedestals have to be exact.
A jig was made in order to cut the mortises in the exact same position. The jig was made using the same “master template” curve. It was skinned with a 1/8” sheet of plywood. The plywood acted as a backing to prevent any tear out when the router bit went through the pedestal.
The jig secured the pedestal and a template guide the router.
Once again the center line on the pedestal was used to accurately position the template.
The template was made from ¾” MDF and straddled the jig. It was clamped to the jig to hold it in place.
The mortise in the template was sized to allow for the guide bushing on the router.
Using a plunge router cut the mortises in the pedestals.
Step 38: Pedestal Inlay
A decorative inlay, made from Makassar Ebony, was incorporated into the pedestals were the stretchers attach to the pedestals.
Layout the placement of the inlay and use a sharp chisel to create a 1/8” deep mortise.
Cut the inlay and glue it into the mortise. The inlay will be slightly proud of the mortise since the pedestal is not flat.
Hand sand the inlay to conform to the curve of the pedestal.
Step 39: Stretcher Joinery
Dry assemble the pedestal and base support.
Take a measurement of the distance between the pedestals where the pedestal base attaches to the table top. This measurement needs to be very accurate since it establishes the length of the stretcher.
Mark the distance on the stretcher using the center line reference.
Align the center line of the stretcher to the center line of the jig used to cut the half lap joints in the curved cross pieces.
With the jig clamped to the table saw cross cut sled, cut both ends as marked.
The stretcher will be attached to the pedestals with a ½” x 2 ½” loose tenon.
Mark the mortise layout on one end of the stretcher.
Mount the jig used to cut the stretcher to length on the horizontal router and position the bit and horizontal range according to the mortise layout.
Route both ends of the stretcher 1 ¼” deep with a ½” straight bit.
Step 40: Glue the Stretcher
To clamp the stretcher you need to distribute the clamping pressure equally from end to end and side to side.
Equal clamping pressure needs to exerted at the center of the joint or the joint will not seat tightly. It will either be opened on one side or end of a stretcher.
In order to create a tight fitting joint I made a caul. The caul was made to hold the clamps at the height of the center of the joint. The caul was made using the same curve as the pedestals so the clamping pressure would be right over the joint.
The cauls' platform was made from ¾” MDF. The center of the caul, where the clamping pressure would be, was covered with felt to prevent marring the surface of the pedestal.
The joint is a loose tenon. The tenon was made from maple to fit the mortise. It extended 1 ½” into the stretcher and 1 ¼” into the pedestal. Glue the tenon into the pedestal.
Spread glue in the mortise of the stretcher and on the tenon. Position the stretcher on one pedestal and then move the other pedestal over the tenon to attach. Both pedestals are placed into the support structure that is secured to the table top.
The cauls were clamped to the pedestals side to hold them in place.
Long bar clamps were placed on the cauls and pressure was distributed equally to draw the joint tight.
Step 41: Glue the Base Support
The table supports are glued together at the half-lap joints. Spread glue on the half-laps and clamp with “C” clamps. Use scrap wood as cauls to for better clamping distributions and to prevent clamp marks.
Step 42: Extension Slot Inlays
The side extensions attach to the table top with six rails.
A decorative inlay was made to mask the dovetailed slots for the extension rails.
A router inlay bushing was used to cut the inlay mortises and the inlays. The inlay bushing
has two parts: a removal bushing that offsets the router bit and a bushing guide
that fits the router base.
The removable bushing positions the router bit for the edges of the mortise. The router base bushing guide positions the router bit to cut the inlay to perfectly fit
the mortise. A 1/8” router bit is used for both cuts.
A jig was made to straddle the edges of the table top. Layout lines positioned the inlay mortises centered in dovetail ways on the sides of the table top. The jig was made from ¼” MDF with side rails the extended beyond the template to facilitate clamping the jig to edge of the table top. The template was made with 8 degree angles to mirror the dovetailed ways.
The router with the removable busing was used first to create the ends of the mortise.
Another router fitted with a ½” straight bit and another bushing guide was set at the same depth of cut and was use to remove the waste in the middle of the mortise.
Clean up the bottom of the mortises with a sharp chisel to remove any irregularities caused by the router bit.
Step 43: Extension Slot Inlays
The inlays for the extension slots is made with the removable bushing removed.
The same jig is used to create the inlay as was used to cut the inlay mortises.
A couple of strips of Makassar Ebony was cut ¼” thick by 1 ¾” wide. The strips are 18” long.
A cutoff from the ends of the table top was used to hold the inlay strips and the jig.
Clamp the jig and the inlay strip on the edge of the table cutoff.
With the router guide bushing placed tightly against the edge of the jig, plunge the router bit into the inlay strip and carefully route the ends of the inlays.
Make at least 6 more inlays for the side extensions. Always better to have extras.
The inlays are proud of the table thickness and will eventually be planned flush to the table thickness.
The inlay is attached to a cleat that is fitted to the dovetail way.
Step 44: Finish
The finish was sprayed. The first coat was shellac. It was rubbed down with 0000 steel wool.
The subsequent coats were conversion varnish. A commercial grade finish that is very durable. There are 6 coats of conversion varnish on the table top.
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