Thread: Harlequin side table
3rd Jun 2019, 12:22 AM #1
Harlequin side table
My wife requested a side table for the family room. This will be situated between two arm chairs, and replace the small table (which is too high and dominating) ...
Not just a side table, but it also needed to house her needlework thingies. In other words, shallow drawers for cotton reels and sewing kit. I played around with several ideas, and eventually came up with a design that borrows a little from a piece I recently made.
Lynndy liked the softness of the rounded dovetails and overall dimension of this coffee table I built some months back for a nephew ...
The plan (looking down) would be to create a curved front and back, with round, splayed legs to the outside (an alternative is a straight, tapered round leg) ...
In contrast to the Jarrah in that piece, the carcase will be built in Hard Maple, dovetailed and mitred at each corner. It will feature 8 drawers. All drawer fronts will curve as well. The reason for "Harlequin" in the title is that the drawers will be a mix of woods, as depicted in the elevation of the drawer section ...
A harlequin design is often thought of as a diamond pattern, but does also include a rectangular checkerboard. Anyway, it's just a name, and I like giving my pieces a name
At this stage I have chosen for the drawer fronts Black Walnut and Blue Gum. I may also add in Hard Maple. Always interested in your thoughts here. The Blue Gum is lighter than the Black Walnut and is a good foil against the Hard Maple …
The legs will taper and curve from the carcase, attached with a loose mortice and tenon ...
The sides and top were arranged so that the grain flowed continuously. The carcase is 20mm thick, 800mm long and 350 at the wide, centre point ..
The initial dovetail plan was to keep the boards parallel and saw the curves later. It became apparent when joining the first set that this would not work ...
.. there would be too much at the sides to mitre, and so I decided to shape the top and bottom panels at this stage rather than later.
This was the first opportunity to use the modification I made to my Moxon vise (see article: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMad...MoxonMods.html). It now enables the pin- and tail boards to be clamped together to aid in marking out (see earlier photo).
In marking out for mitred corners, the side tails are not sawn out from the front ...
... the board is reversed, and the mitres are marked ...
... and sawn ...
The reason I had wanted to retain square carcase sides was that it would make it easier to square the chisel guide for the mitres. I got around this by squaring them to the front of the carcase ...
The pin board is seen here ...
One of the difficulties in fitting this many tails and pins is that any slight errors are magnified. The fit below illustrates that the left side is too tight ...
To deal with this, the tails were given a pencil scribbling ...
Fitting the board together left this behind ...
This process needed to be done once more, before the fit was satisfactory ...
The four sides were dry fitted together, and the front and rear upper and lower panels planed to shape (this was close but not enough) …
All is coplanar …
Where we are up to at the end of today …
One set of mitred corners …
… and the other …
Next up is building the internal dividers for the drawers.
Regards from Perth
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3rd Jun 2019, 10:18 AM #2
Comfy chair pulled up, just waiting for the popcorn to be ready.
Will your curved drawers also have half-blind dovetails like those in your apothecary cabinet?Nothing succeeds like a budgie without a beak.
3rd Jun 2019, 11:51 AM #3
3rd Jun 2019, 01:23 PM #4SENIOR MEMBER
- Join Date
- Mar 2018
Do you have any other little tricks like the pencilling for getting your dovetails so tight? I've not seen any Youtuber use that one before in that context but it makes perfect sense.
3rd Jun 2019, 02:04 PM #5
I have not seen this used by anyone else. It was an idea that only occurred to me very recently. There was a video on FWW magazine about mating a sliding dovetail and the presenter used pencil to find the high spots. The lightbulb went on in regard to pins and tails. Generally, one would look for rub spots. But that can be hit-and-miss. Or just guess. And the danger then would be that you remove wood from the wrong spot. (Perhaps I should send this in as a tip to FWW magazine .... I have such a list ... and then the moment passes )
Regards from Perth
4th Jun 2019, 02:36 AM #6
With the carcase completed, it is time to turn to the internal dividers for the drawers.
I took the time first to plane the rebate for the rear panel. Knowing my spatial weakness of getting parts back-to-front and upside-down, I marked these when the carcase was a dry fit (and later briefly thought I had screwed this up!) ...
One of the benefits of mitred corners is that the rebate can be planed across without fear of it showing ...
The rebate is 6mm deep as the rear panel will be 5mm thick to bend it around the curved rear. The carcase is 20mm thick, and the rebate extends halfway into this.
I was curious to see how rebating on a curve would turn out. No problem ...
Here is the rear of the carcase with the rebate ...
Moving to the stopped dados/housings ... the centre panel is solid rather than a frame. I decided that this would be less work, plus there will be a series of stopped dados to be made. The panel is 10mm thick. This was made first, that is, the dados were sized to fit the panel thickness.
I made up a couple of templates. One was the height of the dado, and the other was the height of the dado plus the width of the dado. The inside of the carcase is marked on both sides using the same templates to ensure that they are exactly the same height from the base.
The lines are deepened with a knife, and then a chisel wall is created to register a saw cut ...
The end of the stopped dado is defined ...
A Japanese azebiki was used along a guide to ensure it cut on the vertical ...
Now that the sides are defined by the kerf, this could be deepened with a chisel (this is my favourite chisel - a 1" Kiyohisa. Sublime!) ..
The waste is removed with a router plane ...
Check that the side walls are square ...
Completed side panels ...
I was so confident that the dados were perfect that I dry fitted the carcase once more ... and then found that one dado was a smidgeon too tight for the test piece. It turned out that a small section of a side wall was not as square as I thought (probably the saw did not cut deeply enough at that spot). The best too to clear this is a side rebate plane. Set for a very light cut to clear the waste, not the dado width ...
Perfect fit this time ...
Time to fit the centre panel. This has been shaped to size, but will need a little fine tuning at a later time. Note that the rear section is secondary wood (Merbau) ...
I had just enough time to slide the panel in. Nice tight fit. Not enough time to saw the rebates for the stopped dados. This will be done next time ...
Regards from Perth
11th Jun 2019, 02:20 AM #7
The Harlequin side table will have 8 drawers. The drawer case sides and the central drawer blade are panels and run in dados or housings (depending on which side of the pond you live). Positioning of these dados is critical since any misalignment will affect the aesthetic. It goes without saying (but I shall) that the alignment also determines that the side panels will be square ... and drawers need to run against square sides. All this is done here with hand tools.
Some of the finer points in getting it precise ...
First of all, templates (or story sticks) are created to position the dados. There are two for each side panel: the second is 10mm longer than the first. Scoring each creates an exact 10mm dado. There is a series of templates to position all the dados. This ensures that the upper and the lower dado are position exactly the same distance from the reference wall ...
A chisel wall is created for the marked outlines. This wall enables the fence to be lined up using a wide chisel ...
The sidewalls are sawn with a azebiki saw. This have two curved sides, one with coarse rip teeth and the other with fine crosscut teeth. I begin with the fine teeth and use them to establish the kerf, and then switch to to the coarse teeth for speedier sawing.
With a compass, I check that the kerf is parallel and to the desired width (10mm) ...
The sawn side wall is now chopped away close to full depth ...
This is done across the dados on one board at a time ...
The waste in the centre of each dado is removed with a router plane. The dados are done at the same time to save have to reset the depth of cut (one stroke on dado #1, one on dado #2, and one on dado #3 ... then back to #1 ...) ...
Keep an eye on the depth ...
Fine tune the dado should theoretically be unnecessary if they were marked accurately. In practice, I find that there is usually some waste in the corners, or a slightly sloped wall. For this reason I run a side rebate plane (here a Veritas), the length of each wall. This is not held vertically, since that with remove some of the width. Instead it is run at an angle away from the side wall, as it it was undercutting the side wall ...
The fit is now checked with an offcut from the side panel ...
The side rebate plane can take a smidgeon off the sidewall if the fit is too tight. Some will argue that it is preferable to plane the panel instead. In this situation that is not advisable since the panel is to slide along the dado, and a tight point will impede all points of the panel.
The carcase is Hard Maple, with Merbau as the secondary wood. Locally, Merbau is used for decking. It is cheap and hard, both qualities valued. But is a really brittle wood, and awful to work with. The number of splinters I have had ... and they are sharp and lodge deeply. Ugh!
It can look like this ...
... and then a section breaks away ...
At least it will be far inside the carcase and not be seen.
A panel is made up for the interior dividers ...
The pieces are fitted.
Will the careful planning and neurotic execution pay off?
I was holding my breath. This is a dry fit ....
(sound of breathing again)
Then I pulled it apart and glued up the carcase ...
More after the coming weekend.
Regards from Perth
11th Jun 2019, 10:26 AM #8
Derek, your detailed walkthroughs are really inspiring and enlightening. I really enjoy following different people’s workflow as I find it far more informative than individual isolated techniques. So thanks for all the effort you put into taking us along on the journey.
Oh, and this project is magnificent by the way. I am quite partial to gentle curves.
11th Jun 2019, 05:23 PM #9SENIOR MEMBER
- Join Date
- Sep 2010
- Port Sorell, Tasmania
11th Jun 2019, 09:50 PM #10
Here are a couple of articles I wrote on dovetails ..
Through dovetails: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furnitu...ovetails3.html
Half-blind dovetails: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furnitu...hBlueTape.html
Mitred-though dovetails (which are planned in this build): http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furnitu...feeTable2.html
Regards from Perth
13th Jun 2019, 02:53 AM #11
YOUR INPUT, PLEASE.
The Harlequin side table will have round legs at each corner, which will be attached from the outside.
Ideally, the legs will be attached without any bracing. I would prefer to not even have a stretcher between the legs, however recognise that my intended connection of the legs to the case may not be enough to prevent flex in the legs.
The plan I have is the attach a wedged through loose tenon into the case (which is 20mm thick), and connect the legs to this with a pinned mortice-and-tenon.
This will need to be done before starting on the drawers (for access). The wedging should prevent the tenon from being pulled out, and the pinning will prevent the tenon separating from the legs.
The legs are likely to be 1-3/4” to 2” diameter (not exactly sure yet) at the top, so can be morticed 1-1/4” deep. If the tenon is 75mm long, will this be wide enough to prevent any twisting? Or do I still require a stretcher?
Any other ideas to attach legs? (No, I am not considering a frame below the case).
Regards from Perth
13th Jun 2019, 08:57 AM #12
The plan view shows the legs being half-round where they join the carcase sides, but the front elevation doesn’t indicate any transition to fully round. My suggestion would be to have the legs fully round below the carcase and stepped to half round at the join. This would also give additional support and provide another degree of anti-racking or twist.
This method would also allow the use of a sliding dovetail joint (either straight or tapered) and the joinery method would be invisible from both the underneath and the inside of the cabinet.Nothing succeeds like a budgie without a beak.
13th Jun 2019, 02:31 PM #13
Thanks for the ideas.
I am tossing up whether to have 1/2 or 3/4 round legs or completely round legs. At the start of the thread I mentioned that the case will have rounded dovetails, which means that there will not be an edge to use to support the legs, as you suggest. It is also not possible to use a sliding dovetail.
Regards from Perth
13th Jun 2019, 09:39 PM #14
my thoughts ...
The harlequin table will act as a stretcher so you don't really need to add any stiffeners.
The legs could be attached from the inside using 3 or 4 screws -- so the joint would be "invisible".
alternately, the legs could be screwed on from the outside with the screws "hidden" by caps made with contrasting screw caps.
But I'm not sure how you feel about using screws.
However, the key to your proposed design will be how the legs are shaped and attached to the casework.
One option will be to notch the tops of the legs so that the case sits on the notches -- this might be the simplest, but won't leave much meat to screw into.
A more difficult approach will be to transition the legs from round to half round -- which will keep the "meat" to screw intoregards from Canada
13th Jun 2019, 11:54 PM #15
First off, the idea to transition from round to semi circle is brilliant! I love it! I will make a test piece this weekend.
Secondly, screws are out (unless I can be convinced otherwise). The issue is that the case is 20mm (possibly 19mm). The head of the screw must sit flush with the inside (as the drawer runs along the inside), which means that it must be countersunk. This means that the thickness surrounding the screw is potentially thin. Movement will eventually cause this to crack or break away.
The only solution I can see is a morticed loose tenon. 12.7mm (1/2") wide x 75mm long and 20mm deep. The question is whether this needs to be wedged or not. There are pros and cons each way. The pro is the obvious one - a wedged tenon acts like a dovetail and will resist being pulled out. The con is whether the wedge will weaken the tenon, since it can only be 20mm in depth (angled saw kerfs terminating in a drill hole to prevent splitting). And at its simplest, the tenon may be strong enough with glue alone. Any particular glue (I have been using Titebond Liquid Hide)?
Regards from Perth
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