Trestle Table in Black Walnut

Discovering Design

The discovery of the life within the wood and the relationships they form is exciting to uncover. The early decisions are heavy. Every other act in the process is a response to these chalk marks as they try to hear and echo this walnut tree’s voice.

Underpinning Art with Discipline

The romance of the craft is backed up by countless hours of “mundane” work- the discipline that builds skill, and makes up the real life of labor. Days are spent creeping up on this scribed relationship and the foundational joinery. It’s a blessing to work, and to rest in the presence, at the same while striving towards the goal. Don’t mistake me, I’ve only had enough meager success at it to know it’s possible. 

Technology – Joinery

One side of the natural edge was curving away on bottom edge so I had to cut a shallow rebate in order to have a solid joint as well as cleanly scribed edge. This edge was reinforced with dominoes. The opposing edge curved towards the bottom edge and could be cut square. For it I made a floating contoured spline from Baltic birch. Assembled dry all is tight and solid.

Visualize and Establish Form

Finding a way to visualize the elements in a design is an engaging challenge. Krenov spoke of “composing”, and I’ve adopted his method and language -clamping up and mocking up relationships as the process moves forward. I don’t recall if he used tape, but I recently switched from using blue tape to white tape to mask off shapes- the difference is remarkable. 

Labor – Engaging Harvest

The last bit of joinery for the individual trestles is the horizontal rail completing the “H” form, which will eventually carry the longer rail that will join the two trestles together.

I’m grateful for this job, this material, this process. I heard a song that had a line which proclaimed “I am the record of His grace”.

The Sacred Process

Is labor a sacrament?  The invitation of the Eighth Day?  A sacred collaboration with the living God?  I can’t help but to note that the call to labor in the garden came before the curse of toil.  I am certain that labor is about more than just earning my bread.  There is something deeper there, not just for the artist, but for the ditch digger and the roofer, the farmer and the nurse.  “Whatever you think, it’s more than that…”  ISB.

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The Champion Table Build, Part 3: Leg Joinery

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flattening walnut stock with a wooden joiner for the top rails of the leg assembly

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using winding-sticks to make sure there is no twist in the board

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finishing up with a #7 jack plane

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squaring up the remaining edges and dimensioning the walnut on the bandsaw

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layout lines

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initial shaping of the curves on the top rail of the legs

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testing it against the table-top

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sawing lengths of white-oak for the vertical posts of the leg assembly

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the white oak after squaring-up

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testing the concept and a few angles before committing

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laying out the leg joints

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establishing the sliding dovetail angle with a knife

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cutting the front of the sliding dovetail

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all the bandsaw work done, now the hand-tools will finish

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paring the back cheek of the tenon

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the joint is most of the way there- the waste between the mortise and the dovetail is yet to be removed

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the four white oak legs all cut

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the arsenal of tools to accurately transfer the dimensions of the tenon/ dovetails onto the walnut rails

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marking

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starting the cut for the sliding dovetail socket with a carcass saw

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another view cutting sliding dovetail sockets

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chopping out the waste in the socket

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paring the sidewalls unreached by the saw

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using a router plane to achieve an accurate floor of the joint- the leg on the cutter allows it to reach the angled corners

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another view of the router-plane

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starting the mortise with a 3/4 mortise chisel

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the first row is delicate- just establishing the shape and protecting the corners

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going the full depth of the mortise with an auger – you can see the round-topped sliding dovetail socket parallel to the mortise

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squaring the mortise the rest of the way with the mortise chisel

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cleaning the sidewalls with my extra-big paring chisel

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thank God, they fit!

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step one is successful- to get to this point took endless drawings and two complete practice joints and a lot of patience

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marking the leg rails for some shaping/ sculpting cuts on the band saw

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the top rails post rough-shaping, and the taper of one of the white-oak legs marked with blue tape

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dry re-assembly just to make sure

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the glue-up

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next week will concern the joining of the bottom rail and the final shaping of the leg assemblies

Alder Wood Console

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Above are the front and back  view of the alder wood console which after the final assembly.  Below are some detail shots of the carved elements.  There are some minor details to complete, such as to turned globes for the tops of the back posts, hardware, and finishing.  The construction is mortise and tenon, frame and panel and a few dovetails at the top of the carcass.    I use a combination of traditional work methods using hand tools and traditional-leaning work using power tools.

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Details of the rosettes and fans (or sunburst).