Greene & Greene Magazine Rack - my "own" design #10: Breadboard top assembly and dye, preparing the ebony accents

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Blog entry by Mike_D_S posted 07-04-2016 04:30 AM 1604 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Double disasters.... and recovery ending with assembled case Part 10 of Greene & Greene Magazine Rack - my "own" design series Part 11: Finally done »

I was derailed the other day, but I focused yesterday and today on getting the breadboard top for the magazine rack together.

To refresh, I had the top panel glued up and the BB ends cut to size from earlier, so I started by insuring the top panel was squared up and cut to size with my table saw sled. Next, I rigged up my router table with the slot cutter and slotted the panel ends and the inside of each breadboard end, making sure to raise the cutter for the BB ends to keep the slot centered. I went ahead and used a 1/8* round over but to soften the edges of the BB ends and the front and back of the top panel.

After cleaning up the router table, I ripped some spline strips out of some leftover alder and cut the spline strips down into the lengths I needed. In order to mount the BB ends and allow for motion of the top panel, I decided to use 3 screws in each end, one in the center in a fairly tight hole and one on each end in a small slot to allow for a little movement. Because the top panel is actually quartersawn, I probably could have just glued the BB ends on as the expansion/contraction of the panel probably won’t be that big, but it’s good practice.

I broke out the mortiser and cut 3 mortises on each BB end for the ebony accents. I made two 1” long 1/4” wide mortises about 3/8” deep about 1 1/2” in from the ends and then one 2” long mortise in the center. I used my drill press to drill out a recess for the screws in the mortise bottoms and worked the piece a little left and right to make slots on the outside screw positions.

At that point, I thought I was ready to install the BB ends on the top panel but I discovered why most of the plans I see call for a 5/16” or 3/8” wide ebony accents. The wood screws I have all have heads that are bigger than 1/4”. So after thinking about either chopping the mortises wider with a chisel or pulling the mortiser back out, I decided on a more practical answer. I chucked the screws I had in the drill press and pulled out the trusty dremel with a grinding bit and simple ground them down until the heads were about .225”. I was able to do the 6 screws in about 15 minutes, which is a loft faster than I could have recut the mortises.

But lesson learned, next time I’ll use a bigger mortise if I want to drive a screw. The other thing to remember when using screws in a wide breadboard is drilling pilot holes. If you only have standard length drill bits, you’ll have to dry fit the breadboard ends and use a awl or something similar to mark the pilot hole positions. then you can pop off the BB end and drill the pilot holes.

With the mortises but, screw holes prepared and pilot holes drilled, I went ahead and installed the BB ends. I cut two small pieces of the spline about 1” long and glued them in on either side of the center screw hole. the rest of the spline I left dry just to keep the BB end and panel aligned. Then I drove all the screws to finish up the BB end install.

With the ends installed, I next made up a jig like the one used by William Ng (there is a good video on his site) to use my router to cut the mortises for the front and back splines on the top. I cut the mortises and then squared the ends with chisels. This basically completed the machining for the top, so I went ahead and put on the first coat of the dye stain and that was it for Saturday.

Sunday, I got back out in the shop and put on one more quick coat of the dye stain and then set the top aside to focus on the ebony accents. As I mentioned earlier, I ordered the 3/4” fingernail bit from Wiliam Ng. I started today by building two jigs. One was a straight jig to use with the fingernail bit to make the accents for the BB ends. The other was a stepped jig for the accent splines for the front and back of the top. Both jigs are based on the one used by William to use with the bit.

I took some time building the jigs and made them in a way that I can use different size inserts to be able to cut ebony accents in different widths and depths. There is a 1/4” shelf glued and screwed to the back of the base and the inserts go in front of the shelf to set the depth of the accent. The jigs made quick work of making the accents and splines. It took me a couple of hours to make the jigs and then only about 30 minutes to make all the ebony accents. Here you can see a nice set of splines for the front and back of the top. The jigs make it a very controllable and repeatable process to make multiple splines.

I cut all the accents a little long and a little wide to make sure I can get a good fit. After cutting the profiles on the accents, I started marking and cutting the accents to nearly final length. Then I used my oscillating sander to sneak up on the length and width until I had good fits. Add a little glue to the mortises and I tapped in all the accents.

At this point, the top is nearly done. I’ll do one more coat of dye to even out the color as there are a couple of lighter areas, then it’ll be ready to finish. Here are some pics of the top as it sits. The pics aren’t great, but it gets the point across.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

1 comment so far

View Mean_Dean's profile


7017 posts in 3757 days

#1 posted 07-04-2016 11:45 PM

Well, looks like you’ve got all the details down on the top! Looks like tedious work, trying to get the pillowing just right, and all the rest of it, but you’ve done a nice job!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

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