A small conference table - the build #6: Start applying the finish to the top, and set up legs and aprons

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Blog entry by Al Navas posted 02-04-2009 03:56 PM 3899 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Glue-ups, surface flatness, anxiety, and 100X-200X magnification Part 6 of A small conference table - the build series Part 7: Apply varnish to the top, and more on the legs and aprons »

I continue work. For the upcoming several days I will continue applying the finish to the top; today I started applying the Zinsser Seal Coat (shellac) to the underside. And work started on setting up for cutting tenons on the aprons, and mortises on the legs.

From my blog:

Sometimes, decisions are tough.

For example, to start the work day today, I debated whether to start applying the Zinsser Seal Coat to the table top as it lay on the workbench, or take into the finishing room. The finishing room won:

I include the following photo to illustrate the importance of using a turntable, to make it easy to arrange things. Since it is critical to be able to properly reach all sides of the work piece, something is needed to make this easy. Imagine YOU between the work piece and the exhaust fan (as in the photo above) when spraying – bingo! You get the idea – spray all over your face, your clothes…

The next photo illustrates the best arrangement: The work piece should be between you, and the exhaust fan -and the turntable is the best way to do it:

Now that I am set up to apply the finish in proper sequence in the finishing room, it is time to start work on the legs and aprons. I milled one test board out of quarter-sawn white oak (QSWO); it is of the same dimensions as the actual table aprons: 1 inch thick, and 4 inches wide. I started carefully laying out the tenons.

The Leigh FMT is a machine that gives extremely accurate results, and lets you dial in the fit; but it requires accurate layouts, and test cuts to dial in the best fit. In the next photo I am carefully marking the center of the width of the board – and I will do something similar when marking the half-thickness. Notice I use calipers to achieve the accuracy I want, and need:

Now I take the apron to the FMT, and start the setup for the test runs – it is important to make sure the side stop fence is set such that the work piece will be centered properly:

After placing the apron against the side stop fence, I adjust the table limit stops (for the X and the Y directions) on the FMT and lock the settings – I don’t want things moving once I start cutting mortises and tenons:

The work piece is centered in the table bit opening fairly well. I set the work piece tight up against the joint aligning sight; it looks like a target – and it is:

An amazing thing about the human eye is its ability to excel at comparisons. I believe I centered the work piece quite well in this next photo – if you click on it to enlarge it, you will notice that I actually marked two lines, one from each side of the board, using the calipers; I may be off center by a little less than 0.001″:

Once the work piece is aligned properly, it is time to set the router bit cutting depth. For the aprons I want tenons 2-1/4 inches long, and 1/2-inch wide; they will go into mortises in the 3-inch square legs:

As I will make test cuts with the FMT, and I want to make both the mortises and the tenons using only one setting, I will also need test legs. I milled some waste QSWO, glued it, and now I start milling the glued up test leg. First, I must remove the glue that squeezed out:

After scraping the glue as well as possible, I trim to 3-1/4 inches, square, on the band saw:

By now it was time to head to the house, get some rest, and have dinner (or supper, depending on where you live).

Next: I continue applying the finish to the table top. And, while each coat dries, I will continue setting up to cut mortises and tenons using the FMT. And, in between all this, I will get the walnut ready for glue-up of the legs, and start milling the QSWO boards that will be the aprons.

Thanks for following along!


-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

2 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4796 days

#1 posted 02-04-2009 04:41 PM

This is an interesting construction post, Al. It gives a great deal of info that a project post lacks.

I am looking forward to the next installment.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4849 days

#2 posted 02-05-2009 04:04 PM

Thanks, Scott.

Yesterday was mostly business on the phone. But back to the shop this morning. ;-)

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

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