Thursday, March 4, 2021

Desk-side Table, Part 3: More Joinery and Shaping

Continuing this week with joinery, the shelf support rails fit between legs in the short direction.  But the inside faces of the legs are tapered, so it's a little bit tricky to get the shoulder lines for the rails' tenons.

Getting the shoulder lines for the shelf rail

In the picture, I've dry-fitted the legs with a short apron and clamped it up.  I measured the outside-to-outside dimension of the leg assembly at the apron and used a little spacer to separate the legs just enough so that the outside-to-outside dimension at the bottom was the same as at the apron.  In the picture, the spacer is the stick just to the right of the tape measure.  With that distance right, I placed the shelf support rail in its proper orientation, but under the leg assembly, and knifed the shoulder lines off the legs.

I set a sliding bevel to that angle (which was the same for both shoulders on both rails) and deepened the shoulder lines, then carried the lines around the piece using a square and the sliding bevel.  The resulting shoulders fit perfectly.

Nice tight angled shoulder lines at the rail-to-leg joints

I used a similar method to get the shoulder lines for the three shelf boards, only these were not angled.  Then cut the mortises in the rails and went for an overall dry fit.

Mortises cut into the shelf rail, three shelf boards tenoned to fit

First dry fit - looking good

With all joinery complete, shaping was next.  I gave all aprons and shelf rails a bead detail at their bottom edges.

Using an old A.C. Bartlett's Ohio Planes 5/16" beading plane

Happy with the result on this shelf rail

Aprons and rails beaded - this looks so much better than the above similar pic pre-beading

I shaped the legs with a 1/2" radius on the outside edge and a much smaller radius (probably about 1/16") on the other edges.  That larger radius of the outside corners mimics the desk that this table will sit next to.

Top of leg showing the shaping.

I'll be attaching the top to the base with "buttons".  These used some off-cuts from the aprons.

Thicker part is 1 1/4" x 1 1/4".  The 3/8" thick tenons are 3/8" long.

After chopping the mortises in the aprons

Hide glue was used for final assembly.  First, the two short aprons and shelf rails were glued into their respective legs and set aside to dry for a few hours.  Then those short-direction leg assemblies were joined with the long aprons and the shelf boards.

Final glue-up

I'll wrap this project up next time with shaping the top and the finishing routine.


  1. I am repeating myself but again very nicely done. I like the beads, this is adding a very nice finish touch.

    1. Hey, thanks Lionel. I got the last coat of shellac on today and tomorrow I bring it in the house! Yay!