Step 1: Design of the Cabriole Legs Used Build the Bedside Table Frame Assembly
The bedside table built for this instruction article is the first of two matching units to be constructed, and will be approximately 30″ high and 24 x 24″ width and depth. The design of the bedside table will incorporate a lower shelf and a single drawer. The leg design will be cabriole and the template of same was formed from a sheet of hardboard.
Step 1.1: Joining the Lumber Used to Build the Bedside Table Cabriole Legs
With no solid lumber available, it was necessary to join 2 pieces of 2″ lumber, each measuring 2″ x 3 1/4″ x 30″. The mating faces were milled in the industrial jointer, however before that procedure, I squared off all the faces and edges of the timbers on the table saw.
When preparing to join the 2 pieces of lumber, it is wise to make the widths identical for 2 reasons, (1) the 2 pieces are edge clamped at each end to prevent skewing, and (2) milling the finished article is easier with the mating faces flush. I am a great believer in applying glue evenly to all surfaces to be mated. Initially, apply glue in a zig zag form, then spread evenly over all mating surfaces using a small artist’s paint brush.
Once the glue is dried and cured, scrape the excess glue off and mill the lumber to 3 1/4″ x 3 1/4″. Use the hardboard template to form the pattern, with the inner flat edge of the template meeting at one corner as shown in photo.
As stated previously, the solid blocks of 3 1/8″ x 3 1/8″ timber comprising the cabriole legs are initially made up from 2 pieces of 2″ stock. If when cutting the leg profile in the band saw, the blade crosses the interface of the join, 2 things will be noticed (1) if the band saw blade is perpendicular to the join, the join will be virtually invisible (2) if however the band saw blade crosses the line and is parallel to that line, an unwanted delineated mark will be noted.
I have managed to avoid the latter problem by reducing the thickness of the block to 3 1/8″ x 3 1/8″ and further reducing the width of one of the joining pieces to 1 5/16″, as can be seen from the photo.
The profile misses the joint by approx. 1/8″.
I have also redesigned the profile at the inner edge, this for 2 reasons, (1) the face will remain square and will form a landing for the lower shelf and (2) the face surface will be absolutely in alignment with the top joint surface.
Step 2: Cutting the Bedside Table Cabriole Legs in the Band Saw
Prior to cutting the profile in the band saw, check the blade with a machinist’s square and ensure that the blade is absolutely perpendicular with the cast iron base.
When sectioning it in the band saw, I prefer to take several more cuts than are absolutely necessary. Do not complete the cuts, leave small bridges of connection at the mid section and use painter’s tape. If you attempt to make complete cuts on the first pass, to retain the original shape, you will not only obliterate profile lines, but you will finish up with curved sections on the band saw bed plate which creates tremendous difficulties in keeping the work piece square and true.
Step 3: Three Steps for Shaping the Cabriole Legs Used to Build the Bedside Table Frame
Once the rough cuts have been completed on the band saw, dress rough surfaces with a small straight spoke shave, an excellent tool for removing high spots and rough areas
During this process, you will notice I am leaving 2 flat surfaces on the inside of the leg, each on the same plane as the upper land surface. In actual fact with this design we only require one of these, however since we have not as yet decided on the positioning of the 4 legs, one of these will be removed and faired at a later date.
Because of the shape of the leg, I use a bench top clamp arrangement and also curved sections removed during the band saw sectioning process.
Cleaning up the legs is a multi stage process beginning with the spoke shave. The next stage is to lightly clamp the belt sander in the vise and by using the curvature on the belt sander, further smooth the contours. Note: the rail landings at the top and lower section are not touched at this time. These procedures are followed by further smoothing using the 6 inch orbital sander and the final process is hand sanding with 100, 150, and finally 220 grit.
The foot of each leg is again shaped using the belt sander and finished by hand. There is a slight taper towards the back end of the foot as shown. The outer corner of each leg is shaped top and bottom, using the spoke shave and finished off by hand.
The next photo shows the 4 legs, the 2 front on the right and the 2 rear legs on the left. Note the lower rail land on the left. These lands are evident on 1 surface of each leg.
Step 4: Design of the Rails and Stiles Used to Build the Bedside Table Drawer Fascia Panel
|Upper rail:||7/8″ x 1″ x 14 1/2″|
|Lower rail:||7/8″ x 1 1/2″ x 14 1/2″|
|Outer verticals:||3/4″ x 3/4″ x 7″|
NOTE: The upper and lower rails are slightly wider than the 2 rails for appearance and the lower rail is scalloped.
I wanted to optimize the drawer size for this small table, which entailed reducing the size of the 2 – 3/4″ drawer verticals. In this instance I decided to rigidly join the 4 components using the half lap method.
Completing this joint is relatively straight forward. I set the table saw blade 3/8″ above the bed plate surface, then use the cross cut sled to chop out the section as shown in the photo.
Dry fit the assembly, ensure that all surfaces are true and square, then glue and clamp.
Before trimming the fascia piece, bear in mind that the lower rear rail has to be identical in size to the front rail, both in width and height. Mill the rear rail, i.e. 7/8″ x 7″ x 14 1/2″ (leave length oversize). Trim both rails to the same width on the table saw. To ensure the lengths are identical, proceed as follows: Using the shop made sled, cut one end of both pieces to ensure that these are absolutely perpendicular with the long edge. Set the table saw at 1″ greater than the required length i.e. 15 1/2″, move the sled into the pre-determined position, install the 1″ spacer, the drawer fascia and make the final cut. Move the sled back to the prearranged position, install the rear rail and finalize that cut.
CAUTION: MAKE SURE THE 1″ SPACER IS REMOVED BEFORE MAKING THE CROSS CUT.
Step 5: Design of the Rear Rail Used to Build the Bedside Table Frame Drawer Section
To facilitate the drawer design, the rear of the table incorporates 2 rails, both measure 7/8 x 1 1/2 x 14 1/2″. Again to incorporate the drawer and installation of Dowelmax on the lower rail, we have to ensure that the position of the top of the lower rail is identical to the front scalloped rail. To accomplish this, mark the bottom position of the scalloped rail on the inner surface of the leg, place the front and rear legs together, align and lightly clamp. Transfer the mark to the rear leg inner face. This is now the position for aligning Dowelmax. Disconnect the clamp, place the 2 rear legs on a flat surface, insert the 2 transverse rails and draw reference marks or numbers. Align Dowelmax to the upper surfaces and using the 3/8″ spacer for a 3/8″ offset, drill through guides 1 and 2. Align Dowelmax block with lower line and drill through 4 & 5.
Step 6: Drawer Fascia Panel to Cabriole Leg Dowel Joint Used to Build the Bedside Table Frame Upper Front Section
The width of the drawer fascia is sufficient to allow 6 dowels. Therefore the index pin is required. Reference from the top and rear and install marks. A 3/8″ relief or joint offset is advisable, so use a 3/8″ spacer for leg operation. Use a bench top clamp and soft pads to secure leg to bench for drill operation.
Follow the exact same procedure for the remaining legs.
NOTE: With respect to the drawer fascia, the 2 end verticals are 3/4″ x 3/4″, therefore we have to adjust the drill depth to suit. To avoid cutting the dowel, I drill 5/8″ into the drawer fascia and 7/8″ into the front legs.
Step 7: Design of the Routed Rails and Panel Used to Build the Bedside Table Frame Upper Side Sections
These will be of similar design to the hall table, in that the stiles and related stub tenon will be omitted from the assembly.
Mill the upper and lower rail from 7/8″ x 3/8″ and 3/4″ x 15 1/4″. The pieces are routed using 2 Freud carbide tipped bits, and the following are important points to remember when carrying out this task.
- Ensure electrical power is disconnected before changing bits.
- All widths and thicknesses of the work pieces should be identical.
- All outer surfaces of work pieces should be marked and placed face down on the router table for cutting.
- Where possible use backing block to reduce tear out.
- Rout cross cuts first, then long grain cuts.
- Use several passes before implementing final cut.
- Do not pause or stop during single pass.
- All final cuts should be at the same setting.
- All cuts to be made in direction opposing the bit rotation.
Both table side rails are required to be identical and after routing procedures, prepare for trimming the edges and ends in the table saw. As in previous cases, I use the cross cut sled, the fence and the 1″ spacer to ensure that both end pieces are identical in length.
As previously stated, the design for the table end rails is identical to that used for the hall table (previous project) in that the assembly excludes the 2 outer stiles. When routing the pieces, this can become problematic with respect to the centre panel bevels. For that reason it is preferable to rout the stub tenons at each end of the centre panel and use these projections against the fence of the router table. That way the proper depth of the bevel will be easily and accurately achieved.
The centre panel of the side rails is snugly attached to each outer rail, floats, but is not glued to these components. In order to obtain perfect spacing related to dowel placement, the 3 components are lightly clamped and 2 sections of painters tape are laid along the joint seams.
Painters tape laid along joint seams of rails and center panel used to build the bedside table frame side sections.
Lay the front and rear right legs on a flat surface, insert one of the side rails between the two, mark your reference marks (I used numbers in this occasion) and since the rear is flush, reference from that surface. (Ensure that these surfaces are flush before installing Dowelmax and drilling). Two dowels are used for each rail, i.e. four for each joint. Use the index pin to position dowels, and use 3/8 spacer for approx. 3/8″ relief or offset on leg.
Step 9: How to Build the Bedside Table Drawer Assembly
The drawer walls are built from solid cherry measuring 5/8″ x 4 3/8″ x 15″ (length) and 5/8″ x 4 3/8″ x 12 7/8″ width. The design of the drawer incorporates butt joints at the rear with the ends of the rear strake butting against the inside of the side strakes. The front joints are bored through mitres using black walnut dowels. For drawer construction make sure the cross cuts are at exactly 90 degrees, and further, that the table saw blade is exactly 90 degrees to the bed plate. Use a machinist’s square to correct if necessary. Use test pieces to adjust for the proper 45 degree angle, on the table saw. The rear section involves a face joint and the reference marking system is as shown in photo.
Referencing system numbers for the multiple dowel joint used to build the bedside table drawer wall rear section.
The wall thickness of the drawer is 5/8″ and using the simple formula (Dowelmax manual) we arrive at a negative result of 1/16″, in which case we have to shrink Dowelmax rather than expand it. A 1/16″ spacer can be used against the reference bracket face, however a more secure method is to install the 1/8″ spacer screwed to the reference bracket face and install 2 x 1/16″ washers between guide block and reference bracket: this results in the 1/16″ difference required.
With respect to the rear face joint, mark reference marks as required, align from the top and drill through guides 2, 3 and 5. Use the index pin to install Dowelmax through guide #1 and the last hole and then drill one additional hole through guide #5. Change over Dowelmax to the second configuration and again using the check mark system, referencing from the top, drill the face boards.
With respect to the mitre joint, these will be 6 exposed WALNUT dowels. Dowelmax is disassembled and the 45 degree accessory is installed. Since we are drilling straight through and we want to avoid tear out, it is necessary to install a backing piece or sacrificial piece. This piece which should measure approximately 1/2 inch x 3 x 3 1/2 inch, lays directly on the inner surface of the 45 degree accessory. Additionally, because of the sacrificial piece, additional spacers need to be installed and on this occasion, I am using spacers equalling 7/8 inch. Making sure the drill does not come in contact with the 45 degree accessory, drill through guides #1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Slide Dowelmax along, insert the indexing pin and drill one additional hole. With the drawer glued and assembled, the black walnut dowels will be exposed. These are cut with a flush type saw, then the surfaces are sanded using 150 and 220 grit.
Cut the bottom plate to the correct dimensions, install and secure to the recessed drawer walls using brads. Install 2 runners on the bottom surface measuring 1/16 x 3/4 x 15 inches. Glue and attach to the outer extremity of the lower surface using painter’s tape to provide light pressure.
Step 10: Determining Bedside Table Drawer Center, Width and Length of Lower Shelf
Dry fit the entire framework including 2 side panels and 2 end drawer panels, lightly clamp arrangement and ensure the framework is true and square. Determine the centre line on the front drawer opening and scribe a fine line. Use a good quality machinist’s square to obtain the corresponding centre line at the rear section and again draw a fine line.
These accurate lines are necessary in order to ensure proper alignment of the drawer slide arrangement.
With the framework square and true, and the 2 lower rails dry fitted and in position, the exact measurement for the length of the lower shelf can now be made. This is an ideal requirement for the Dowelmax UTG, which is a tool for obtaining inside measurements accurate to within thousands of an inch.
Method of measuring the precise length of the shelf used to build bedside table frame lower section with the UTG tape measure gauge.
Step 11: How to Design and Build the Bedside Table Lower Shelf
The shelf (excluding transverse rails) will measure 3/4 x 14 1/5 x 15 7/16 inch. I joined 2 pieces of solid cherry for the shelf, beginning by planing all faces. The table saw is then used to dress the mating edges. First ensure that the table saw blade is absolutely vertical and at 90 degrees to the bedplate before beginning. Keep the top face up and take skims off alternate edges until a perfect match is realized (keep rotating the boards with the top face up).
Place the boards together, install the reference marks and use 6 dowels for edge attachment. The boards at this point measure approx. 16 1/2 and by setting the distance gauge at exactly 4 3/4 inches, we will place 6 holes equally spaced across the board. Dowelmax centres on 3/4″ stock so there is no spacer required. Use distance gauge and drill 6 bores.
Dowelmax device and distance gauge set to align and drill dowel joint used to build the bedside table shelf assembly.
Mill and sand to appropriate size following completion
Two work pieces joined edge to edge with six dowels to build the bedside table shelf assembly.
Step 12: Centering and Aligning the Shelf to Rail Dowel Joint Used to Build the Bedside Table Frame Lower Section
In preparing to join the lower shelf to the 2 lower rails, we must ensure (a) that the shelf is properly centred on both rails, and (b) that the initial reference positions are identical. To achieve that, place and clamp the 2 rails together, edges flush, side to be drilled facing upward, draw a fine line to represent the initial position of Dowelmax.
N.B. In this case we want the lower edge of the shelf to be aligned with the lower edge of the rail, consequently we reference from the bottom edge. Set the distance gauge at 3 9/16 inch then use the same sequence of drilling as in the shelf itself. Note that although the rail constitutes a face joint, it is relatively narrow and we do not have to change to the second configuration. Drill 5/8 inch (maximum) into the face of the rail and 7/8 inch into the shelf.
Step 13: How to Design and Build the Bedside Table Top Assembly
The table top measures 20 3/4 x 20 3/4 inch, and comprises a centre panel surrounded by 4 mitred rails. The centre panel measures 3/4 x 13 3/4 x 13 3/4 inch. The 4 rails to the extremity, measure 7/8 x 3 1/2 x 20 3/4 inch (leave oversize).
In order to complete this process in an almost perfect manner, some considerable care has to be taken. The outside edges of the 4 rails are routed in a decorative profile and this should be done before drilling the dowel holes or cutting the mitres. The rails are 3 1/2 inches wide therefore the rail length requires to be 7 inches longer than the centre panel. Also I leave an additional 1/8 inch at each side for final trimming, therefore the dimensions of each rail is 7/8 x 3 1/2 x 21 inches. The centre rail is 5/8 x 13 3/4 x 13 3/4 inch. Place the centre panel and one rail together leaving 3 5/8 inch projecting at each side to accommodate the mitres. Draw a fine line at the left hand side and this is the initial reference for Dowelmax. Note: all 4 rails have to be drilled and dry fitted prior to cutting the mitres.
Set the distance gauge at 3 1/16 inch (rod to head), place reference marks on centre panel and rail, install Dowelmax and align to fine line. Dowelmax will align to fine line on rail and appropriate corner of centre panel. Drill six bores using distance gauge, erase previous line, dry fit rail to panel and scribe new fine lines (guide for cutting mitres). Repeat process on all sides.
I like to use 1 dowel to strengthen and align all 4 mitred joints. Again it is necessary to drill these bores prior to cutting the mitre. I use the centre guide, i.e. #3, remove the drill collar and drill through a length of approximately 4 1/4 inches. Perform the same sequence with the end of the opposing rail, referencing from the top face, the inner edge, and drilling through #3 approximately 4 1/4 inches.
At this juncture, begin cutting the mitres. Mark all rails and dry fit one using two snug dowels. Use test pieces to ensure the table saw mitre gauge is truly set at 45 degrees and carefully cut the first mitre so the 2 corners intercept perfectly. Lightly clamp rail to centre panel, take adjacent rail and cut the 2nd mitre somewhere approximating 1/2 inch from the final cut. Use this as a guide. Place this rail alongside the centre panel, slide along until contact occurs with the 1st rail mitre, and at that point determine any adjustments that must be made to the angle. Keep adjusting the table saw mitre gauge until a perfect match is attained. At that juncture remove the first rail and dry fit the second rail. Mark the position of the final cut for the mitre, reinstall the first rail and use several passes to make the final cut, at which point, with the 2 rails dry fitted and installed, a perfect match should be realized.
As a consequence of the routed profile edge, there is a tendency for the glued assembly to become bowed due to clamping pressure. Use 2 small hard wood blocks and clamp to retain proper alignment.
Note: The 2 rails with end dowels projecting at 90 degrees to the axis of the rail have to be installed last.
Step 14: How to Install the Bedside Table Drawer Guides and Slide
The slides measure 3/8 x 1 1/2 x 16 inches (x2).
With the framework dry fitted and sitting true and square, the centre of the drawer slides was determined and marked. Continue that line down both inner faces (for reference purposes Dowelmax reference lines must always be on the surface to be drilled). The slide portion of the Richelieu T bar measures 9/16 inch width, therefore mark a second reference line 9/32nd from the centre line. Install the 1/4 inch guides and 3/16 inch spacer to the reference block, align Dowelmax to second line and drill through guides #1 and 2 (drill 5/8 inch into the face joint and 7/8 into the drawer slides). Using reference marks and same setting, drill all 8 holes at ends of drawer guides. Dry fit appropriate slide, install 9/16 inch wooden spacer, align Dowelmax and drill through 1 and 2.
Dry fit framework with drawer guides installed and insert drawer slide and ensure smooth operation in open and closed position.
PHOTO DATED JANUARY 28
In order to prevent angular misalignment with respect to the drawer fascia, it is necessary to install 2 small risers at the rear of the drawer bottom in line with the 2 drawer guides.
Step 15: How to Build the Bedside Table Drawer Front Fascia
The drawer opening measures 4 1/2 inches x 13 and the fascia measures 3/4 inch x 4 1/2 x 13 inches. I have a design which I consider pleasing and which I have used for several years now. It involves routing a bevel on all 4 edges for a width of approx. 5/8 inch. I then add a second bevelled plate (3/8 inch thick). When gluing second plate measure carefully to ensure top plate is accurately centred on main plate.
Step 16: Finishing the Bedside Table
Prior to applying the prep coat, I cover all joint mating surfaces and dowel bores with painter’s tape. With respect to the 2 end panels, these are of course floating and the painter’s tape aids in holding these components in place.
Prep and stain. I have a preference for finishing all components before assembly. I consider this the best method for me, however be warned, it is very time consuming. Now that all components have been finished, disassemble the dry fitted framework and finish sand all components using 220 grit (finish off with medium strand steel wool). When sanding the curvature of the legs, as a final check, run your fingers across the surface and ensure the curvature is even. For a prep coat, I use a combination shellac and methyl hydrate in the proportion 1:4 respectively. Apply liberally and rub in with the grain. Leave overnight; lightly rub over, with the grain, with fine steel wool. Apply 1 coat of dark walnut gel stain, then rub in with the grain and remove excess. Again leave overnight. Rub over surface with fine steel wool, and then apply a 50/50 combination of dark walnut and espresso. Leave overnight, rub over surface with fine steel wool and apply another coat of gel espresso.
Finish as desired.