This term we have been given various choices for different specialist workshops on a Tuesday. I chose to partake in the wood workshop as it was a furniture making workshop where we were to lean how to make a table with curved legs, which required complex 3D cutting on the bandsaw, alongside a mortise and tenon joint which is just about the most common joint in furniture and is incredibly strong, therefore making it a very useful joint to know. The style of furniture that usually uses this type of chair leg is very decorative which isn’t really my style, however I figured it would be useful to learn the techniques, especially the joinery.
Half the trick with furniture making and joinery is getting the marking right at the start and then accurately following your markings on the machines. So we began by using a template for the curve of the leg to mark onto our wood. In order to achieve the 3D curve of the leg one needed to mark this shape on two faces; the face and the face edge. Once this was complete you needed to mark out the mortise which is the groove which the tenon then fits into. One needed to make sure that you marked these two grooves on the right side of the legs so the leg curved outwards, the right way rather than curved in the incorrect direction. Once this was complete we needed to cut the mortise, using the mortiser machine. This is quite a straightforward machine which cuts square holes instead of circular ones, and is controlled a bit like a engineering lath; via a series of handles. This need to be completed first so that the piece of wood lies flat and provides a steady surface to cut into, whereas once you have cut the leg shape on the bandsaw the legs is curved so will no longer lie flat.
Once this is complete you can begin cutting on the bandsaw. First you follow the shape drawn onto the face of the wood, then once this is cut, stick back the cut wood like a puzzle using masking tape and then cut the same shape but this time on the face edge. This gives you the 3D curve. This will then need sanding on the bobbin sander which is design to cut curves to even out the shape. After this you will also need to go over it with hand sand paper to even out any smaller bumps.
Below you can see the legs after they have been hand sanded placed on top of what will be part of the table top, which you can see gluing in some of the images above.
The following week we cut the tenon to complete the mortise and tenon joint. It needed to match the mortise groove, fitting in snugly so once again there was some careful marking out required and then careful cutting with the bandsaw. This was particularly difficult because every joint was different and the bandsaw didn’t always cut in a straight line so not all my joints were sound and it took a lot longer than I expected to get it right. You also needed to sand a 45 degree angle on the end of the tenon, so when the tenons met in the mortise grove, they fully slotted in, not obscuring each other. We also cut a pattern in the horizontal piece of wood with the tenon’s on the end, which would be what will hold the table on top. This was purely for decorative reasons to go along with this style of furniture.
Below you can see the structure roughly fitted together. I am quite pleased with how it has turned out so far and I think the curves work nicely.