No matter how often I try to not get so intense on one project and do more than one at a time it must not be in my make-up. I have a request for a custom box on Etsy, a shirt carving in progress, and a picture frame waiting for me to carve and gild — this crib to desk project has me so intrigued that it’s my main focus, at least until the temps hit 100 degrees in the shop. Today was very productive and I reassembled one of the sides. In my first post about this project I discussed my concerns/thoughts about the joinery for this. I did a practice glue up and destruction test on a couple of pieces I used to set up for the lap joint, you know the fun type of test where you glue up and then take a mallet it to it to see what’ll happen!
Considering that this joint hadn’t been planed and prepared like the ones for the sides, I was happy with the results. You’ll always hear that the glue bond will be stronger than the wood itself and this proved true. If you look closely at the broken joint, wood from one piece is still glued to the other, the wood, not the joint; gave way.
After cutting the mortise and tenon joinery for the stretchers one side was glued together. I’m so glad that years ago I made two torsion boxes for assembly table. Here’s how I managed to glue this together. There really isn’t a lot of strength from the slats so each mortise had a bit of liquid hide glue applied to it. The main strength comes from the lap joint. By separating the assembly table I was able to put an F-clamp right on the joint. Wax paper on the bottom, a piece of polyethylene as a caul, and a light coat of paste was should make clean up of the Gorilla glue easy. This is a close up of the joint. Gorilla glue is my choice for laminating pieces together for tops or book matched panels. It cleans up easily and doesn’t show under the finish. Hopefully, the foaming of it will be easy to remove from the painted finish with a sharp chisel — don’t want to mar the finish on the crib!
Before assembling that section, all of the mortise and tenon joinery was cut first. There will be two stretchers at the back which will have one crib side section attached to it. The stretcher in the front will be larger and shaped to mimic the bottom of the side pieces. It was kind of a challenge figuring out how to hold them in place for the mortiser but that was the first step. After preparing the stock, tenons were formed on the table saw and then fine tuned with rabbet plane and saws. The front apron is 4″ wide so twin tenons were used there.
As you may imagine, a project like this requires lots of measuring and calculations so I was very happy to clamp the back stretcher in place and check my math to see that it was correct. Next up was forming the front apron to mimic the shaped bottom of the crib sides. Whenever I do something like this I find it beneficial to first make a pattern so that both sides are symmetrical. The pattern is traced onto the wood then band sawn close to the line. This is followed by reattaching the pattern to the piece and pattern routing it to shape. Machines just don’t leave the kind of finish I want so this was an ideal area to refine with spokeshaves and a block plane.
After some edge work and planing the flat surfaces these parts will be ready to fit to the crib. First thing in the morning will be to re-assemble the other section before the temperatures get too hot in the shop and the glue sets up before I can get it all clamped. I have some pickling stain from Sherman Williams and will do my best to match the finish on the crib. It’ll be much easier pre-finishing them before the desk is put together. The only visible part is the apron, the back stretchers have a crib side piece in front of them. You know I’m not a finisher, preferring a natural oil or shellac finish on my work but I’m up to the task! The next blog should be of a finished project except for the glass top, I’ll leave that for my client.