Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Aurora Nightstand - Making the Legs

The order of construction given in Darrell's article made sense to me, so I started by using one of the jigs I had made earlier to make the waterfall profile on all four legs. As suggested in the article, I first used the jig to mark the profile on each leg so I could remove most of the waste using a bandsaw. Then I used a long flush trim bit to rout the exact profile.

Having never worked with African mahogany before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I hit it with the router. It behaved quite nicely, though. The routed surfaces were nice and smooth, and I didn't get any burning or tearout at all.

With the waterfall profiles established, I trimmed the legs to their final length, then began cutting the mortises that will eventually receive tenons on the aprons, drawer rails, and stretchers. I have never cut mortises with a router before, and I didn't want to learn how by making mistakes on this project. So I cut them by hand, using the drill and chisel method. I marked all the mortise locations using a knife (rather than a pencil), both for precision, and also to create a little groove to guide the initial chisel cuts. I then hogged out most of the waste material by drilling a series of closely-spaced holes in each mortise location, and finally cleaned up the mortise walls with bench chisels.

The mortises are all 3/8" wide. I used a 9/32" bit to drill out the waste. Next time I think I will drill slightly smaller holes, since it seemed easier to make the mortise walls vertical in places where there happened to be a little more material left to be removed with the chisel. I adjusted the width of each mortise to make it fit a 3/8" thick surrogate tenon made of mesquite.


Vic Hubbard said...

Looking good Russ! Btw, using a router is easier than the hand method, but yours look great!

rmac said...

Thanks, Vic. You're right about using a router to cut the mortises. I even made a horizontal router table the other day specifically to help with these. But I changed my mind at the last minute for two reasons. First, the router wouldn't have really helped that much on the little short mortises, since I'd still need to square up the ends by hand anyway. And second, I didn't want a high speed, 20,000 RPM mistake to instantly ruin one of the legs. Better, I thought, to screw up slowly and have some hope of recovery.

Vic Hubbard said...

You'll love that horizontal router set up and you'll get use to it. I don't really do any through tenons, so routers are great for me.

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