Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Making Rails

OK. We've got the major joinery cut on all the posts. We're not done yet with the posts, but at this point, I began working on the rails & central stile of the very front, since I had all of the wood for these parts sitting around after milling them up before we went to Hershey.

I started by cutting these parts to width & length from the stock I had prepared. I cut these to the dimensions from my drawing, since their lengths would determine the final dimensions of the pulpit from font to back. I will use relative dimensioning when I cut the shelf supports & shelves, as well as everything else from that point on.

One interesting thing I did was make a wooden spacer exactly 1" long. The center rails are exactly 1" shorter than the top & bottom rails. By inserting the spacer between the stop on my Osbourne EB-3 when I went to cut the center rails, I got them exactly 1" shorter without having to move the stop block. This saved time & prevented mistakes by readjusting the stop block (I don't have a tape measure on my EB-3).

When I got to the center stile on the front of the center box, a soft, still voice told me to cut it long. When I heard it, I reasoned it was a good idea, since the actual length of this piece would depend up on the depths of the grooves I had yet to cut in the top & bottom rails, and on the distance between the mortises in the front two posts. I needed to cut it to 40 1/2" according to the drawing, so I ended up cutting it to 41".

After cutting these parts to final width & length, I routed grooves in them by mounting the same spiral up-cut bit in my router table. I set the depth to 1/2" & placed a post on the table with the bit in the groove. I then adjusted the router table fence so it was against the adjacent face of the post. And I started running rails. Everything ran fine here, no mistakes.

Next, I began cutting tenons on the ends. The top & bottom rails all have 1" long tenons. The center rails, as well as the center stile on the front, all have 1/2" tenons. I decided to cut the 1" long tenons first.

I attached a stop block to my fence & set it so I would cut a shoulder 1" from the end of stick. I set the height of the blade to 1/4" and I started cutting shoulders. All went well. I then reset the fence 1/2" closer to the blade & made all the shoulder cuts on the center rails & stile stock. Again, all went well.

Time to make the cheek cuts. I grabbed my new tenoning jig that I got for Father's Day (gloat!) and set it up. Again, I started with the 1" long tenons. Everything was going well & I was getting great tenons that were a little too fat to fit in the mortises, which is what I wanted. Some where along the way, I ended up grabbing the stick for the center stile & I mounted it in the tenoning jig & ran it through. Doooh!! The shoulder on one side of one tenon now has a kerf running 1/2" up! Some how, this didn't upset me so much as cutting through the corner on the post had. I remained pretty calm & figured that since the kerf would be hidden when everything was assembled, I'd just fill it in with one of the cheek cutoffs. So I finished cutting the 1" tenons & then did all the 1/2" tenons.

After I'd finished making all of the cheek cuts, I began tweaking & adjusting the tenons so they'd fit into the mortises. I did this by first making a few passes on both faces with my shoulder plane until I could slip the tenon into the groove. I then eyeballed the location of the haunch & marked it on the tenon. Next I cut the haunch using my pull saw. I put each frame together as I went from rail to rail, sort of as a dry fit.

It was while I was putting the center frame together that I realized I had cut the center stile long on the off chance it was too short. This became obvious when I couldn't get the top rail square to the post I had inserted it into after I slid the center stile into its grooves. So I put the frame together without the center rails & stile & measured. And here's the second reason I think God Himself is working on this pulpit with me: I had to remove exactly 1/2" from the stile to get it to the right length. After cutting a new tenon, that would totally remove the mistake from the stile! There's nothing to patch or hide!

So I recut the tenon & finished the dry fit. Here are some pictures of the frames dry fitted together. The left wing:

The right wing:

And the center frame:

I did notice in this dry fit that the grooves I'd cut in the posts were about 1/32" too far from the adjacent face of the posts, since there was about that much of a ledge left visible after I installed the rails. I guess I didn't have the edge guide set to the right distance when I cut the mortises & grooves. Next time, I'll have to remember to double check that dimension with a shallow test cut before I go gang busters on it.

Next time: I Finish Making the Posts


gregor said...

Hi, Tony.
Just happend to stumble across your blog while doing some woodworking research. Looks like some fun projects!
I'm currently remodeling the living room in our 1851 home and will be creating some Arts and Crafts style molding as well as a mantle and a built in bookcase over the mantle in the Arts and Crafts style. I'll be checking in to see how your works are going along. And watch that kickback!

Tony V said...


Sorry, I haven't gotten back to you sooner. I don't make daily blog entries. I'm trying to get this pulpt done before the start of October & I'm putting as much time into fabrication as I can. I just wish I didn't make so many screw ups so I could spend more time working on new stuff instead of correcting mistakes.

These days, I basically post when I can't handle going back into the shop for a little while & can collect my thoughts. I'm pretty close to being up to date, but I'm actually a bit further ahead than I've covered in the blog.

For example, I'm finally going to begin milling the stock for the panels in the morning. With a little luck, I can get through all of it in a day & begin working on the glue-ups.

Thanks for reading the blog!