To avoid too much filing and sanding, cut as close as you can on the band saw. I cut in close to the line around the curves first, then come back and use the cutting edge of the blade to nibble away the waste up to the line.
The mortises for the aprons are 7/8″ deep and 4-1/2″ long. They are centered on the legs and start 3/4″ down from the top of the legs. The two apron mortises will intersect one another in the leg, so be careful while cutting the second mortise to avoid damaging the rather thin interior corner left by the two mortises. The stretcher mortises are 3/4″ long and start 5 1/8″ up from the bottom of the legs.
While you’re at the mortiser, lay out and cut the 7/8″-deep mortises in the breadboard ends. The middle mortise is 4-3/4″ long and centered on each breadboard. The two outer mortises are 2-1/4″ long and start 1-3/8″ in from each end. All the breadboard mortises are centered in the thickness of the breadboards.
Remove the top from the clamps and trim it to finished size. I used the table saw to cut the tenons on all the pieces, but you may choose to use a router. In fact, I was a little lazy on the saw and opted to leave the 1/8″ blade in rather than switch to a dado to run the tenons. There’s also a little logic behind my laziness. By making repeat cuts on the cheek of the tenon my blade leaves slight ridges on the surface. If test fitting my tenon achieves a fit that is too snug, I’m able to come back with a rabbeting plane and trim the tenon to fit. Miter the ends of the tenons to fit the legs.
Cloudlifts & Quirks
The quirk detail is created on the legs using the table saw. Essentially, you’re creating a 1/16" x 1/16" rabbet on each corner of the leg.With the tenons cut it’s time to add some of the details. Each of the aprons and the two stretchers have what have been coined “cloudlift” designs. This shaped offset is formed on the lower edge of each apron and on both the top and bottom of the two stretchers. The offset is a simple 1/4". The location of the offsets can be determined from the scaled patterns for the aprons and stretchers. The transition itself isn’t a simple radius, though you could do it that way if you prefer. Rather, the transition can be drawn using 1/4" radii, but should then be softened to make the transition more subtle. I made a few test pieces before I was satisfied with the curve, then used that test piece to mark the cloudlift transitions on the actual pieces. With your pieces marked, head to the band saw and make your cloudlift cuts. Use a file and sandpaper to clean up the shapes on all the pieces.The bearing guide shown on this trim router allows the bit to follow the curves of the cloudlifts. You could also install a bearing-guided bit in a router table to make the quirk detail.
To add a little trick for the eye I cut a 1/16″ rabbet (or quirk) on the long edges of the legs on the table saw (see picture at right), and also on the four long edges of the small shelf. To add the same detail to the lower edge of the aprons and all the edges of the stretchers, I set up a trim router with a bearing guide and a straight bit. The guide allows the bit to follow the cloudlifts without difficulty.
Patterns & Ebony
Before assembly, use your scrollsaw or fretsaw to cut out the patterns on the aprons. Enlarge the scaled patterns to full size (or download the full-size patterns from Magazine Extras our web site), then attach them to the aprons using adhesive spray. Cut the patterns and then use sandpaper and small files to clean them up.
One last step is to make the square holes for the ebony accent pegs. I again used my 3/8″ mortising chisel to make these 3/8″-deep holes. The locations of the dual pegs on the legs are 1/4″ in from either side and the pegs are 5/8″ apart from one another. The pegs at the tops of the legs start 3/4″ down from the top of the leg. The lower pattern starts 3 1/8″ down from the top. The pegs on the stretchers and breadboards are evenly spaced as shown.
Use glue only on the center mortise and tenon of the breadboards. The outer tenons are allowed to move freely to compensate for wood movement.Finish sand all the pieces of the table base and assemble the frame. Start with the sides that have the stretchers. Then glue the last two aprons between the two frames. Before gluing up the top, use a 1/8"-radius router bit to soften the long edges of the top and all the edges of the breadboard pieces. Finally, glue on the breadboards. Screw the shelf in place through two holes in the stretchers that will receive the ebony pegs.The pegs are next (see photo below). I used ebony, but you could also use walnut.I attached the top by using my biscuit jointer to cut slots on the inside of the aprons to match the Z-shaped metal mirror fasteners screwed to the top.The last step is the finish. A coat of boiled linseed oil will leave a lighter finish, allowing the mahogany to darken with age, or you can speed the process by using a stain. A top coat of lacquer and you’ve a table with unique details that make it stand out. PWClick here to download the PDF for this article.David Thiel is aquisitions editor for Popular Woodworking BooksTo make the pegs, carefully rip the accent wood to slightly larger than the mortise size. Round the ends of the “stick” using sandpaper, then carefully trim off the 1/4"-tall pegs on the band saw. Sand the peg sides at a slight angle (smaller at the bottom) and glue in place just proud of the leg surface.