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  • Tiny Table Build discussion

    I'm starting this thread on the construction of my version of a small tapered leg ornamental table that I've been building for a few years as gifts and for sale. Numerous requests for tiny table build details prompted me to use this thread rather than create an article that few would ever find. I also hope that it will generate interest and feedback from Sawdustzone contributors, so anyone with questions, comments, suggestions, or variations please feel free to jump in. Don't be afraid of hijacking the thread, go ahead and show us your table creations! Joedad requested information on building the tapered legs so I'll start there.

    Im trying to build 7-8 tables to re-stock the store and get ready for the holidays. Photo of my tablesaw taper jig used for tiny table legs.
    Click image for larger version

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    Last edited by capncarl; 10-26-2016, 09:41 PM.

  • #2
    Tiny Table overview
    Each Tiny Table is unique. The size of the table top is determined by the wood chosen and its character. Generally the top size ranges from 18" long x 10" wide for the larger ones to as small as 12" long x 8" wide. Because of the different table sizes the top must be built first and the legs and aprons cut to fit. The legs are constructed of 1 1/2" square stock and range from 23" to 25 1/2" long. The splay angle is controlled by the angle cut on the ends of the aprons. The 4 aprons are cut to fit each table using 3/4" x 3" - 4 1/2" x length custom fit each table.

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    • #3
      Each 24+" leg on a tiny table requires 1 board foot of wood. Whenever it is available I use 6/4 wood rather than glue up 2 pieces of 3/4. The finished dimension of the legs, 1 1/4" 1 3/8" or 1 1/2" are depending on the table look desired. All tiny table legs are tapered on the 2 inside edges. I find that cutting mortises before tapering the legs establishes sides to be tapered and reduces the likelihood of tapering or cutting mortises on the wrong side and destroying the leg. Legs are attached to the aprons using floating tennons. The mortises were originally cut on a router table and a slotting bit. Now I cut the mortises with a Festool Domino 500 by moving the 500 3 times to cut a 2" mortise and make special tennons.

      Click image for larger version

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      • #4
        Thanks for the illustrated instructions
        Loring in Katy, TX USA
        If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
        BT3 FAQ - http://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/dis...sked-questions

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        • #5
          Thanks for starting this thread Carl. I am sure you had a lot of this going through your head as you did your long trip out west. I am glad we managed to meet up even though it ended up being in Las Vegas!!

          As you started on the legs I will kick my questions off there also.

          1. Your taper jig looks to be based on one of the standard purchasable ones. It looks like your mods were to improve consistency with the fixed fence guide and workpiece clamp. Is the actual taper jig attached to the base or just squeezed against that extruded aluminum piece?

          2. Mortises? Did you switch to the domino because you had one or is there any distinct benefit? When you used a slotting bit was it one of the 1/4" ones so you ended up with essentially a large biscuit? Did you also try using a standard 1/2" straight bit. Given that they are tiny tables do you think double biscuits or 2 large dowels may also provide the necessary reinforcement?
          Jon

          Phoenix AZ - It's a dry heat
          ________________________________

          We all make mistakes and I should know I've made enough of them
          techzibits.com

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          • #6
            Carl, Thank you for posting these pictures.

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            • #7
              I've been meaning to get this discussion going for some time but couldn't get it off the ground. The new Sawdustzone update changed everything enough I had doubts I could do this. Now if the photo feature will just have a little patience with me.

              Jon, our chance meeting in Las Vegas was nice, even though I had mentioned bringing you some wood from my South Georgia sawmill and that didn't work, and us almost meeting at the Grand Canyon. How's that for luck!

              The taper jig is based on the regular run of the mill taper jig sold at ever woodworking supply store. I have to wonder how they can still be sold! In their "as sold condition" they are little more than a finger shortning machine! The taper jig is fastened to a piece of 3/4 pine that has a length of aluminum extrusion, I think it is 80/20, fastened to the pine as a good smooth guide against the table saw rip fence. For added grip on the work piece I glued a piece of 80 grit sanding cloth to the 3/4 pine. The combined thickness of the 3/4" pine and the 80/20 extrusion provide the proper height to allow the jig to bridge over the rip fence and put another guide on the opposite side of the rip fence and install a push handle and a real hold down clamp for the table leg. This set up is very stable, holds the table leg in place nicely and is adjustable by using the purchased taper jigs angle adjustment and by using the rip fence adjustment for depth of cut. There is absolutely no way to run a blade guard on this jig so I operate it with care by placing one hand on the push handle and the other hand on the vice grip clamp. I always push the jig completely through the cut onto the outfeed table and let it stop. This push distance lets the jig keep the waste cut off piece from dancing around and getting flung across the room by the blade! I walk around the saw, flip the waste piece away from the blade with another waste piece, slide the jig across the outfeed table and reposition the leg for the second cut, carry the reloaded jig to the front of the saw and make the second cut.
              Now for my "Norm" speech about safety?
              Note that I didn't mention cutting off the saw! I stay a safe distance from the blade by walking around the saw to the outfeed table. By having the saw running when I start the cut with the jig I have both hands safely on the taper jig and am not having to fumble around looking for the start switch and hold the jig in place with one hand. There is a fair amount of sawdust spewed out because of no blade guard. Another "feature" from using this type of jig is the lifetime supply of paint stirring sticks and wedges it produces.
              Working at a safe pace it takes 5 minutes to taper 4 table legs.


              Click image for larger version

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              I'll address the question about mortises later on today, got to take a few photos for that!
              capncarl

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              • #8
                Originally posted by poolhound View Post
                2. Mortises? Did you switch to the domino because you had one or is there any distinct benefit? When you used a slotting bit was it one of the 1/4" ones so you ended up with essentially a large biscuit? Did you also try using a standard 1/2" straight bit. Given that they are tiny tables do you think double biscuits or 2 large dowels may also provide the necessary reinforcement?

                I started off with a doweling jig to attach the legs, thinking that it would be as strong as a mortise. My testing proved that it a doweled leg was not very strong.

                I did try using and end cutting router bit but that failed miserably due to tear out, and taking shallow cuts took too long. I even built a leg holding jig for my milling machine and ran a 4 fluted end mill, that worked better but proved to be useless for cutting the ends of the aprons.

                The best mortise cutting method I found was when I ran a 1/4" slot cutting bit in the tablesaw mounted router lift. By setting the cutter center of the work piece and attaching a stop to the lifts fence I could easily cut a 2 1/2" long slot however deep the bit would allow. A slight cutter height change worked equally well for cutting the mortises in the ends of the aprons. This was not a biscuit but a nice size mortise slot that would handle a 1/4" wide X 2 1/2" long floating tennon. Changing to a larger bit, 5/16" or 3/8" didn't work out because it caused too much tear out when cutting the 2 1/2" long slots in the ends of the aprons.

                I'd like to point out that during these mortise operations I've described I was using old antique barn wood that was unbelievably dry and brittle and would tear out and shatter when cut on the tablesaw with anything but a really clean sharp blade.

                After acquiring a Festool Domino 500 machine I figured that I had better find something I could use it for to justify the cost of the Festool 500, vac system and box of dominos!
                It's 10mm cutter only cuts about a 1" wide slot, and the domino is too long and has to be shortened. The legs and aprons are too narrow to use side by side dominos and cutting 2 dominos in a row seemed like a good way to get something out of align. Now I simply cut 1 domino slot at the 500s built in stop, slide the 500 down about half an inch, cut another overlapping slot, slide the 500 down and cut out through the top end of the table leg. This happens in about 20 seconds and provides a 10 mm wide by 2 1/4" long mortise and in less than 5 minutes I have can cut 4 table legs.
                Cutting the ends of the aprons is just as easy. I make up a large batch of 10mm tennons at a time. It takes the same amount of time to make 10mm tennons as it took to make the 1/4" tennons. The 10 mm tennons should be somewhat stronger than the 1/4" tennons but my earlier tests with the 1/4" tennons showed that they are extremely strong. I am satisfied that the 1/4" tennon is plenty for this size table.
                capncarl

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                • #9
                  Photos of 2 1/4" X 1/4" slot/tennon vrs 10mm Festool domino vrs capncarl's 10mm X 2 1/2" tennon.
                  Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    Photo of 1/4" slot cuter in table saw router lift table........ Oops, slot cutter bit rather than round over bit.Click image for larger version

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                    • #11
                      Good discussion on the M&T issues. How did you test/assess that the dowels were not strong enough? An M&T is always going to be way stronger and I am sure if you took a dowel joint and put some good pressure on it it will give long before an M&T. I was just thinking that when all 8 joints of the aprons/legs are glued up and the top is on it should be plenty strong and what stresses could be applied to such a tiny table that could cause them to fail?

                      That said I think I would lean towards the slot cutter method although I think it would be quicker to actually cut real tenons in the apron pieces. I do have one of those heavyweight tenoning jigs and once dialed in it makes it real easy and quick to cut tenons.

                      I am going to have to push making a tiny table up my priority list, however, I have a whole bunch of cutting boards just finished their run through the drum sander and now I get to spend some hours with the ROS, (numbing my hand) to clean them up and get rid of any last marks. :-)
                      Jon

                      Phoenix AZ - It's a dry heat
                      ________________________________

                      We all make mistakes and I should know I've made enough of them
                      techzibits.com

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                      • #12
                        [QUOTE=poolhound;n827972]
                        That said I think I would lean towards the slot cutter method although I think it would be quicker to actually cut real tenons in the apron pieces. I do have one of those heavyweight tenoning jigs and once dialed in it makes it real easy and quick to . :-)[/QUOTE

                        Tennons
                        Cutting tennons in the aprons is definitely a possibility....... And that is all I can say for it, it's possible. I too have a tennoning jig, and it kicked my butt. The aprons on the tiny table have each end cut at an angle from 4-6 degrees that establishes the splay leg effect, so you are trying to cut the tennons at an angle. The hard part is the length of the aprons. I'll describe how this length is determined later, but the 2 small aprons are, say 4 5/16" long and the 2 long aprons are , say 11 15/16" long. This complicates getting tennons cut on both sets exactly the same length. If you goof up any you have scrap or a table that the legs don't fit under correctly. Invariably I would cut a tennon too deep into the apron and have to scrap it. That is the reason I used the slot cutter for cutting mortises in the aprons.

                        Photo of a tiny table with sketch and dimensions. Note...no dimensions on some parts.
                        How to determine that later!
                        Click image for larger version

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                        • #13
                          Poolhound
                          to test doweled legs I recreated the table aprons attached to a board representing a table top and used 2 dowels per apron in the 25" leg. This was clamped in my machinist vice and I gave it a couple of good tugs back and forth. The legs broke off easily. If someone sat on the table like it was a stool it would have collapsed like a cardboard box.
                          The same test later on the 1/4" X 2" miter with a floating tennon.... I could not break the joints, eventually the leg broke. With the tapered legs the small leg will probably break somewhere near the floor if someone sits on the table, but the mortise and tennon joint probably won't break.
                          capncarl

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by capncarl View Post
                            Poolhound
                            to test doweled legs I recreated the table aprons attached to a board representing a table top and used 2 dowels per apron in the 25" leg. This was clamped in my machinist vice and I gave it a couple of good tugs back and forth. The legs broke off easily. If someone sat on the table like it was a stool it would have collapsed like a cardboard box.
                            The same test later on the 1/4" X 2" miter with a floating tennon.... I could not break the joints, eventually the leg broke. With the tapered legs the small leg will probably break somewhere near the floor if someone sits on the table, but the mortise and tennon joint probably won't break.
                            capncarl
                            Good info - NO DOWELS then :-)
                            Jon

                            Phoenix AZ - It's a dry heat
                            ________________________________

                            We all make mistakes and I should know I've made enough of them
                            techzibits.com

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                            • #15
                              I'll throw out another option for making tennons on table aprons. Use a tablesaw sled with a dado blade. Determine the angle of the leg splay and make two fixtures for the sled. It's probably better than the way I do it with the Festool domino 500.
                              On the plus side it would eleminate building piles of tennons.
                              It would eliminate having to cut a mortise in the end of each apron. I already cut the aprons on a tablesaw sled to cut the aprons to length and cut the angle on each end at the same time so little time is lost with this method.

                              On the negative side it would require using the same thickness stock for aprons. I currently use whatever thickness available. The domino 500 doesn't care as long as I use the same side of the apron board to register on.
                              capncarl

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