Loocy, you got some splining to do!

The table base is – save some finish sanding – finished.

I refined the shape of the stretcher, adding the cloudlifts, using the original bow to the stock as my arc. Even though it still is no fun, by this one, my routine for smoothing out the bandsaw marks in the QSWO is pretty well perfected: start with a microplane to do the initial shaping, then move to the rasp, then a smooth cut file, then a flexible sanding strip, then the random orbit sander. Then check the curves from a number of different perspectives and make any touch ups necessary. Test fit and work on the shoulders some more, then arc and pillow the through tenons and cut the slots for the splines. Check.

The design for the extension mechanism comes from Stephen Brandt, via Dining Tables by Graves and Zager. It uses a groove in the side aprons and a slide attached to the table top. Instead of routing the channel out (which I was not looking forward to with the oak), and then having to square up the ends with a chisel, I used the table saw and dado blade to run a channel all the way through the apron, and then glue in inserts to fill the groove in the tenons. A lot quicker, a lot less wear and tear (and tearout), and a lot less stress.

The glue up was mostly about figuring out the best clamping strategy, making sure I protected the oak from any clamp marks and iron staining. I used a band clamp with corner protectors to pull the top together, and a couple of aluminum (or aluminium for those of you on the other side of the pond) to pull the bottom rails tight to the stretcher. Bar clamps up top tightened all of the gaps in the aprons (had to back off a bit when they started to bow!). Then it was time to spline. I was careful to get all of the ebony splines tapped in equally on both sides, so that they would leave the same width of ebony revealed. Check the corners for square, and then BREATHE!

Then to the time consuming fiddly bits. All of the tenons got pegged with oak dowels – 1/2″ or 3/8″ – and then, after they had dried, I used a forstner bit and two different sizes of hollow chisel mortisers, (just the chisel part of the set) to create the square mortise for the ebony plugs. Here’s a tip, use a mortise chisel larger than your forstner bit so you don’t get a bulging square. Luckily, past experience helped me out there. A couple of chisels to clean out the waste, and voila, lots of square, flat-bottomed, holes, all the same depth, just waiting to be plugged up. Then cutting the ebony and pillowing the ends before cutting them to length. (I really do prefer the G&G pillowed plugs to the Stickley style, with champfered pyramids; even though its a bit more work.)

Next, I’ll do a bit of final sanding and move the base to the finishing room, so I can have room to work on the top. Just keep plugging away…oh wait, I’ve already done that.


2 Responses to “Loocy, you got some splining to do!”

  1. Terry Crump Says:

    I love the table AND the use of the splined tenon joint. However, it seems to me that having the spline running parallel to the grain in the rail would increase the risk of splitting the rail.
    Full disclosure: I have never attempted that joint yet, but I AM interested in it, and have studied it just a little. Your thoughts are appreciated.
    Speaking of ‘Acorns’. have you read the book “Oak–the Frame of Civilization”?

    • acornhouseworkshop Says:

      Thanks. The key to the splined tenon is to drill a hole at the bottom of the spline’s groove. That prevents any splitting, and allows a little give when driving in the splines. That way, the tenon pushes out against the mortise, locking it in.
      Haven’t seen the book, no.

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