11 – Finishing the Arts and Crafts Table (Part 4 of 4)


(lively music) Marc: Now if you look at
the picture of this piece you’ll notice that the bottom
rails and the sides have a nice gentle curve added to
them on the bottom profile. So what were gonna do is
make a template out of 3/4 inch plywood and I’m
going to use a little strip of trim hickory, this is from a
kitchen project that we did but it’s perfect to bend for the curve so I’ll show you how that’s done now. I begin by marking the center-point of the lower rail using a tape measure. I know my piece is 28
inches long so I measure in 14 inches from both sides
to find the true center. Then I strike a line at the center-point. With the lower rail stock
flush with the back of my template stock, I mark the
locations of the top and the sides, as well as the center-point. Next I strike a horizontal line one inch up from the center-point. This represents the
highest point of the curve. I also strike a horizontal line 1/8 of an inch up for each of my side lines. I then drive in three
finish nails into the three cross-point locations I just created. Next I place the bending
strip in front of the two side nails but behind the middle nail. This ensures that the curve I draw will follow the proper path. The curve should peak at
one inch at the center and terminate at the
very end of each side. Keep in mind that the side
nail placement depends on the thickness of your bending strip. Mine was an 1/8 of an inch
thick so my nails were placed up 1/8 of an inch from
the edge of the template. I then cut the template down to size using my lines as a guide. I rough cut the curve on the
band saw, and I try to keep the blade about 1/16 of
an inch away from my line. I like to use a 1/4 inch
blade in my 14 inch band saw and that way I can cut
complex curves pretty easily. I then use the oscillating spindle sander to get even closer to my line. Now if you don’t have an
oscillating spindle sander, you could always use a regular sander just to get it down even closer to the line. You could use a file or even a patternmaker’s rasp would work just fine. But the next step is going
to be to smooth and fair this curve and the easiest way
that I know to do that is to use a flexible sanding strip. I like to make mine out of 1/8 inch thick plywood, this is 1/8 inch thick birch. Now when I make these I like to make them three and 3/4 inches wide by
10 inches long and that’s just because of the size of your
standard sheet of sandpaper, I can cut it in half and it wraps
perfectly around this piece. Now in order for this to
work properly you’re going to need handles, so usually
I take some scrap wood, some cut offs from pieces
that we’ve made earlier, and I will epoxy those, you just use some five minute epoxy, to the
front and to the back. And that actually gives us
some really good handles. You might want to round over or sand over the corners so you don’t
get cut or any splinters, but that works perfectly for handles. After cutting the sheet of
120 grit sandpaper in half, I tape the half sheet to my flexible strip using regular masking tape. With the template clamped in
my bench, I begin sanding. Although the strip is flexible,
it’s rigid enough that it doesn’t follow any of the small values, kind of like a hand plane. The result is a nice,
smooth and even curve. Sometimes I find it
helpful to mark the entire curve surface with a
pencil before sanding. This allows me to identify
low spots and is a simple visual indicator for when the job is done. Now I simply transfer the template curve to our actual work piece. Then I rough cut the curve at the band saw just like with the template. Now instead of sanding to
the line, I’m going to use our template and a flush trim router bit to establish a perfect
copy of our template curve. To do this, I use double stick tape to attach my work piece to the template. Take the time to ensure
that the template is positioned properly before applying the pressure that activates the tape. Whenever routing without
the aid of a fence, it’s a good idea to install a safety pin. Starting with the work
piece against the pin, I carefully engage the router bit. Now the bearing on the
flush trim bit will ride against the template and trim away the excess material on our work piece. The paddles I’m using keep
my hands safely away from the bit while still allowing
me to control the work piece. Notice that once the bit
contacts the work piece, it’s okay if you lose
contact with the safety pin. With all of my parts
cut, I begin sanding each piece with my random orbit sander. I start with 120 grit
followed by 180 grit. I do one final sanding by hand
with the grain using 180 grit and finally I break all the edges using a folded piece of 180 grit. Using a chamfering bit
and my plunge router, I create a chamfer on the
bottom of each of the legs. Now whenever you make a square bottom leg, it’s always a good idea
to chamfer the bottom edge in order to prevent
unsightly chip-out. A little hand sanding softens the edge and gets rid of any burn marks. I can say I have one of
the side pre-assemblies here in the clamps and
it’s drying already. Also notice that I
actually pre-finished the parts before I glued them up. In some cases, and this is
one of them in particular, I find it a lot easier
to do that and it saves me a lot of time and the finish itself is quite a bit better because
I can get into all the nooks and crannies and
everything is nice and smooth when it comes together and any glue squeezes out I can just
wipe that little bit away and the glue sitting on
top of the finish so it’s easy enough to clean away. You don’t really have to
worry too much in this case, the way the joints are
constructed none of my finish or lacquer, none of it
actually got into the joints so all those remained
intact and using the domino I have a lose tenon
construction so all of my tenons are sitting in a bag
and have no contact with the finish at all so it makes
for a really nice, tight, secure joints and a
cleaner looking finish. Now the finish I chose to use
is a straight off the shelf Minwax oil based stain and on top of that I used my pre-catalyzed
sealer and then I sprayed on a pre-catalyzed lacquer
on top of that I would say about four coats on top of the sealer. Gave me a really nice thick finish. It’s a semi-gloss finish
or what they refer to as a medium rubbed look and
it turned out fantastic. It’s going to be really
durable and I think the customer is going to
be real happy with it. And just a quick note
about finishes and stains, a lot of times people or
companies, smaller companies, they like to experiment
with different finishes. It might be easier for them
to just grab some pigments or dyes or stains of the
shelf, mix things together and make their own custom colors. And I guess I can sort of
see a reason for that if you really just want people
to be dependent on you and to keep coming back
to you because you’re the person who made this exact finish. And I think a lot of times
people like to keep this mystery around the
finishing process and to me I think that’s stupid, I
think you’re really better off going to Home Depot,
if you can find the color you’re looking for on the
shelf, why not do it that way? This way the customer can
reproduce this color if they need to, I know they’re
gonna come back to me anyway. I’m not concerned that I’m
going to lose this job. The construction speaks for itself so I’m not too worried about the color. I just want to make my
life easier so all I have to do is put a note in my
notebook: This customer used this particular Minwax stain. And I know I can always get
it and it’s always going to be the same consistency unless
they make a major product change so when you’re picking
your finishes, it’s good to experiment, you know, and
it’s great to be able to color match and I’ve got
plenty of pigments and dyes. I could have reproduced this color using the stuff I have on my shelf. But in the long run it’s a
lot easier for me and for them if I use something that’s
commercially available. Now since I used the domino
for all of my joinery, I had the option to actually put
more than one tenon per joint. So in fact that’s exactly what I did. I put two per joint which
means the glue-up is going to take a little bit more
time and I’m not going to have as much time to get the glue distributed on all these pieces. So imagine you’ve got
these four slats into the rails then the rails go into the legs. If you’re using regular
yellow glue there’s really no way you’re going to get all that done especially if you have
two tenons per joint. That’s insane, so what I
actually did was pre-glued my tenons into the mortises
on each piece so that I could just sort of assemble
things together and not have to worry about inserting
the loose tenons into place. Before I do the final
assembly, I’m going to actually prepare just like I did with
the other pieces and pre-glue these little domino tenons into place. So just put a little
glue into each mortise. The great thing about a
joint that fits as tight as these joints, you don’t
really need a whole lot of glue. There’s just so much
perfect wood surface to wood surface contact, [longering]
contact, that a little bit of glue is going to go
a long way in these cases. And you’ll see I actually can only get the tenon in so far with finger pressure. And I have to give it a
few taps with a hammer. (hammering) Now it’s a tight fitting joint. Now I have to say, the
domino is a fantastic tool. And since my initial post in
the previous podcast about the domino, clearly there
is a lot of attention given to a tool like this because
it’s new, it’s doing something that we’ve been doing for
years but it’s a lot faster, and there’s a price attached to it that a lot of people are concerned about. All I can say is if it
is in your price range, it’s an awesome tool
well worth the investment and it’s going to save you a lot of time. If it’s not, clearly there
are other ways to get the job done and we’ve gone over
quite a few of those. A few folks have brought
it to my attention, some of the systems that I didn’t
even mention that are even lower cost than
either one of these systems like the Leigh FMT and
the WoodRat to name a few. Now just Google those and you’ll find some information on them. Personally I don’t know
a whole lot about them because I usually go for
the older school methods for the most part so there
are other ways to do it. But I gotta tell you, if
you do have the funds and you’re interested, the
domino is a great way to go. As you can see the final glue-up required some creative clamping. Just an FYI, I wound up
adding more clamps below these to get more even clamping
pressure along the joint. In order to attach the table top, I’m installing figure eight fasteners. These great little doodads
will hold the table down securely, while still
allowing the solid wood top to expand and contract with
seasonal changes in humidity. I use a 3/4 inch forstner bit to drill a flat bottom recess for the fastener. Notice how the location
of the recess will allow the fastener to swivel back and forth. I simply pre-drill, drive the screw, and were ready for the next one. In order to attach the base
to the table top, I place the table top upside
down on a soft surface. I keep this guy in my shop
solely for this purpose, I highly recommend getting one. Actually that’s my buddy
Chris from Chicago. Now he’s internet famous. I check to make sure that we have the exact same spacing at each corner. Once the base is in position,
I drive screws through all of my fasteners
and into the table top. Well, what do you think of
our arts and crafts table? The color is exactly what the customer wanted and the finish is right on. Now the proportions are pretty
much what we expected too, I guess that’s really how it should be. That’s the value of using a program like SketchUp to plan your projects. We already knew how the piece
would look in 3-D space, so there’s no surprises
when the table is finished. Now I hope some of you will be inspired to make a table like this for yourself. And remember, don’t ever
feel that a particular project is beyond your skill level. Challenging ourselves is
how we grow as woodworkers. And actually sometimes,
the best way to learn is trial by fire so dive right
in and just give it a shot. (banjo music)

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