Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pedestal Table: Final Sizing of the Top

This morning I cut the three top pieces for the pedestal table to their final sizes and shapes. Whenever I am making a top with multiple pieces, even if the pieces are rectangular, I like to complete whatever method of attachment I've chosen while the pieces are still only rough-cut to size. For example, when making a drop leaf table of any kind, I complete the rule joints and install the hinges before the top pieces are cut to final size and shape. The reason for doing it this way is that no matter how well one measures for hinge mortises or leaf pins, tiny amounts of slop in the marking, mortising, or boring can lead to misaligned tops. So in the case of this table, I got the leaf pins and sleeves set before cutting the top to size. The first shot below shows the pins I used for this project.

After I was satisfied with the alignment of the leaves, it was time to cut the three pieces to final size and shape. I used a router compass to cut the radius along the perimeter of the two outer pieces. The specific rig I used allowed the compass to index from the same lines I made for boring the center pin and sleeve. That way I knew that the two pieces would create a perfect circle when slid together. If I failed to use the exact same center points, I could have ended up with two outer leaves which aligned perfectly along the center (thanks to the pins and sleeves) but which were off at the ends.

After ensuring that the two half-round leaves were aligned the way I wanted, the next step was to cut the center leaf to its final length. To do this, I simply placed it between the two outer leaves, slid everything together so all the pins and sleeves were aligned, and used my Festool circular saw to cut a straight line across the center leaf between the ends of the outer leaves. In the past, I've used a variety of methods to make this crosscut, but this was by far the easiest and most foolproof method I'd employed so far.

Here is the table where I'm leaving it today. Tomorrow I'll veneer the curved aprons, finalize the attachment of the slides to the undersides of the outer top leaves, and begin the process of flattening the top. Hopefully by the day after tomorrow I'll have all the woodworking completed and can begin on the finish process.

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