Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dining Set Tutorial #3 Front Legs and Curved Back Rails

Front Legs

Finally, an easy chair part to make. The front legs are 1-5/8"x 1 -5/8' x 16"long. It's pretty easy to mill some 8/4 stock down to 1 -5/8" and rip them on the tablesaw. Ideally you'd use riftsawn stock (diagonal end grain) so that the grain looks similar on all four sides, like this:

Stock selection is important throughout the process of breaking down the expensive 8/4 (2")stock. The long/clear/choice selections went to the back legs. Then, thinking ahead, I selected the next best pieces for the table legs. Don't forget those! I went ahead and laminated table legs while I had the piece out. This will prevent me from mistakenly using them for something else.

So, it was with the shorter leftovers of thick stock milled the front legs. Well, riftsawn pieces went to front legs, and the plainsawn went to the back rails. 

Curved Back Rails

No steam bending or glued lamination's here. I just cut the curved pieces from thicker stock. You can see below how I milled the tenons offset with a dado blade:

Then some patterns were made with 1/2" mdf. If you have an old busted up Thomas the Train table, it works great for patterns and jigs(snicker). The goal is to keep the curved back slat at least 3/4" thick, while using the full 1 -5/8 thickness to obtain a curve. Make patterns accordingly.

After I traced the front and back curves, I cut fairly close to the line on the bandsaw. 

This method does create a slew of odd-shaped cutoffs. Is it a waste of wood? No, disposable furniture makers like Ikea are wasting wood. Oh snap! Ya, I went there. 

Back to pattern routing. A temporary brad was the best way I could come up with to hold the slats in the pattern. Norm Abram would be proud.

I noted in my first blog that I had some trouble with tearout on the back legs, so I went ahead and ordered a high end spiral pattern bit from William Ng's Woodworks. This bit it huge, and a little intimidating at first, but it works wonderfully. Here's the first pass:

And the second pass. No matter how hard I try getting the patterns perfect, I sometimes end up like the picture below- about 1/32" off....with a little ridge.

So I just took the piece out of the pattern and flushed it up with an edge trimming bit (bearing on top, like picture below), 

There you have it. As you can see below, another benefit to cutting these curved back slats from thick stock is the wonderful effect you achieve with the grain- especially if you use plainsawn stock. 
Although not picture, the lower curved back rails are actually a different width, 2 -1/2" instead of 3". This isn't a big deal, I still used the same jig and process. 

The chair parts are piling up. There's a lot of tenons sitting on that bench, and mortises are up next. But before I started on those, I was twitchin' to bust out some hand tools. So, out came the plane and spokeshave to smooth up the router milling marks on the back legs.

Hand planes will work on outside curves, but spokeshaves are superior on inside curves. 

Good fun;-)

On a side note, my family and I will be relocating to another part of Iowa this summer. So, I'll have to set up my entire shop at the new location, along with training for the new job. I really hate to have to pause in the middle of a project, but I likely won't be able to resume this build until the end of the summer. Oh well, one thing that certain about change.

Thanks for reading,

Dan Westfall