Sunday, February 28, 2010

Simple Gate Leg Table - Part 1

I was inspired by my daughter to attempt a table without using any complicated tools or mortise and tenon joinery. This was in part based on an approach she saw on another blog for simple furniture building.

Before I begin, I will state that this may not be the cheapest way to build such furniture, nor will it be the strongest (though it will be a strong as the stuff you buy partially built in the major brick and mortar stores). However, it can be done with just a drill, clamps, a mallet and a saw (I did use a table saw, but a hand saw will work). Some sanding, gluing and screwing will also be required. What is not used is a chisel, router, stacked dado head, etc. you see in other furniture building.

You start by getting your wood. What makes this an easy way to build furniture is you use stair spindles for the table legs, basic 1x3 boards for the frame members, and some 3/8" dowels (which you cut to size). I cut the 1x3's into 4 38" sections (2 sections each for the upper and lower rails for front and back of the piece). You will also cut the 1x3's into 4 18" side rail sections. Make sure all you rails sections are the same length (if you are off slightly, clamp all the similarly-size rails together and sand them on the ends to be the same length). You will also need some angle brackets and hinges, but that will be brought up in a later posting.

Typical stair spindles will have a shorter rectangular (i.e., unturned) area at the top and a longer rectangular area at the bottom.

You get a small (approx. 8") piece of 1x3 and use it for a jig / template for aligning holes for the dowels. You will carefully cut it in half lengthwise. You flip it sideways and then mark a line across it for aligning the dowel holes. This will become clearer when you look at the photos.

Hole Alignment Jig / Template

You lay out the position for 2 equally spaced 3/8" holes in the jig piece. This is the most precise part. Once you align the holes, carefully drill them out. Now here is the key part of the project. The jig can be used from either direction, but you need to be consistent with your usage. I would use 1 side for drilling the holes for the legs (spindles), but the other side for the holes in the 1x3 frame members. By flipping the jig around, any error in your drilling will work itself out in the assembly (trust me this work fine).

Use the jig to align and drill 3/8" holes into the spindles at the top and bottom ends. You will need to drill the holes into 2 adjacent side of the spindles. Make sure you use the same side of the jig when aligning the holes for the spindles!

Jig Used to Align Holes at Top of Spindle

Jig used to Align Holes at Bottom of Spindle

Once that is done, you flip the jig around and drill the holes into the ends of the rail pieces. Pick your rail pieces carefully to that you have the best side facing out.

Drilling the Holes in the End of the Rails

One the holes are drilled, you then cut short sections of dowel and glue them into the rail pieces. You then glue the spindle pieces into the shorter rail and build the sides of the table frame. Clamp it all together and check that it is square.

Detail of Joint

Basic Side Frame Subassembly

Stay Tuned for Part 2 - Finishing the Frame and the Adding the Gate Leg . . .

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Keeping Busy


It was a 'warm' and sunny day. The high is around 34 degF (1 degC). I went for a short (15 mile) bike ride up one of the local hills. The downhills were brutal as the wind felt like it was sucking the heat right out of you. I'd do it again in a heartbeat (once I warm up).

I opened up the jigsaw I got at the auction Friday. I found the speed control board looked like it has a burnt trace. The saw is a Freud FJ85 jigsaw. I got the parts list online. I'll call the customer support line see if I can get a new controller board. The saw sells for around $100 new. It is a 6 amp variable speed saw. If I can get a controller board cheap, it would have been a great investment.

I started on a gate leg table. My daughter pointed me to an approach for furniture making using pre-made stair spindles. Essentially, you use 1x3's and the spindles for the basic frame. I am using dowels to pin the basic frame together, but will mortise the gate leg assemblies together. The forstner bits I picked up at the auction worked great for drilling out the holes for the dowels. I'll post some photos as the project progresses.

I also added a few caps to the end of the axles for the doll carriage we got our granddaughter (it only had 1 hub cap). I touched them up with spray paint. It really helps to complete the carriage.

I'll hit the gate leg table hard next week. I should be able to get the frame together and get the drop-legs assembled and attached. Then I will need to work on the top and sides.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

You Win Some, You Lose Some

We went to a local auction house yesterday. They have the outside 'mantiques' (tools, old furniture, etc.) auction as well as the traditional inside stuff (furniture, dishes, toys, etc.).

I picked up a jigsaw for $15 and a set of forstner bits for $30. The saw was a heavy duty saw with nice roller bearing support for the blade and dust collection attachment. The bits were in a wide variety of sizes. I was very happy with the bits, but . . .

. . . the jigsaw doesn't look like it works. I'll work on it tomorrow to see if it is something simple. Oh well, all sales final!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Toys

We went to a few antique stores yesterday. I am always on the lookout for good antique tools. It is not that I collect them - its just that you can get quality tools for a very good price.

I found a decent spokeshave. It is marked No. 51. Most like a vintage Stanley piece. I sharpened the blade on the wheel and it is good as new. Paid $6. I also found a wooden mallet. The head was tight to the handle. It has seen some use, but it was in good shape. Again, $6!

I am still looking for a decent froe, decent chisels and gouges. I should also look for more bits for the brace I picked up recently.

Happy antique hunting!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The New Addition

If you haven't guessed it, I found a treadle-powered sandstone grinding wheel. It is in good shape, and is a welcome addition for sharpening my tools. At a price of $75, I think it was a bargain. I haven't found a maker's mark on it. I am not sure when it was made. I assume it is early 20th century.

I sharpened my ax, scythe, hatchet, some wood carving tools, an iron from an old block plane, and a half-dozen kitchen knives. The large sandstone wheel spins at a nice rate. The material is not aggressive and gently cleans up a rough surface. It's large surface is great, and the dripping water keeps the wheel cool.

We also found a nice little doll carriage. I am sure our granddaughter will like it . . .

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Great Find!

First - I'll have to keep you waiting . . .

We went antiquing today. I am always on the lookout for tools and other 'mantiques'. I saw some neat old tin signs that would look great on the barn. There were some cool tools, but nothing that I felt I really would use.

Then, I saw it. I've been looking for one of these for a long time. This one was in great working shape, and it had a seat!

I already have a bunch of tools lined up to use the new addition. My son-in-law will be jealous!

We did not have room in the car for it today. I'll have to pick it up tomorrow with the station wagon.

Stay Tuned . . .