Chris Schwarz's Blog

Creole Table: See, then Saw

My favorite part of woodworking is the anti-climax. This is the point where you do something risky, but you’re so prepared for it that the actual act is just a slight thing: brief and easy and boring. This week my climatic anti-climax was cutting the transition between the legs and aprons.

After putting off the task for a week, I finally figured out how to keep the tiny piece of end grain attached to the leg as I sawed the vast majority of it away with a coping saw. My solution was to glue a thin backing board behind the eight fragile areas with the boards’ grain oriented in such a way that it would stiffen everything up.

As I glued those backing boards in on Saturday I thought, “Maybe this is overkill. Maybe I should just grab my saw and teach those aprons a lesson.”

But by that point the glue was out, half the backing boards were in and I had to rush off to meet friends for dinner.

So when Monday came around I took up my coping saw and went to work. Point one in my favor: I had marked the cut on the inside and outside of the piece so it was easy to follow the line. Point two: I had loaded my Olson coping saw with some sweet 15 tpi coping saw blades from Tools for Working Wood. These blades are head and shoulders above the home-center dreck, which always come with a nasty burr and poorly shaped teeth. (I really should review these new blades for the magazine because they are excellent.)

And point three: I am so glad I glued those eight blocks in behind the aprons. After I sawed out the aprons I began chiseling the waste to its final shape. The end grain flaked off the legs like dry skin after a nasty sunburn. The backing boards held the delicate parts in place brilliantly.

- Christopher Schwarz

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