Making a side table from some 2x4s

I finally got around to doing an all hand tools project. Also, the first bit of real furniture after making boxes and spending time fixing up tool etc.

I had a rough idea of what I wanted. Some Shaker-esque design that would fit in a certain width and a handy height and deep enough front to back to hold a lamp and a book.

I figured 1-1/8 would be a good size for a leg so I started off by ripping a 2×4 I had laying around.

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I started off with 4 leg blanks and started to joint them til they were tried and true, square all 4 sides. I ended up with the legs at 1-1/16 when I was done.

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In a similar fashion, I cut apart a 2×4 and made 4 aprons. 2 at about 18″ long and 2 at about 10″ long. All were about 3-1/2″ tall and 3/4″ thick.

I laid out lines on each leg to mark where the tops of the legs would be, the tenons and the bottoms of the aprons.

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Next up I started chopping out mortises. I never did this before and it worked out easier than I thought. I used a guide block to line up the walls.

The mortise gauge I have is less than useless, so I just measured from the sides and used the chisel itself to guide the width of the mortise, allowing for a step between the face of the leg and apron.

Of course, I laid out the first leg totally wrong. They are on the wrong corner as can be seen in the photo below. I just turned the leg around and started cutting on the other end instead as I had not yet cut the legs to length.

I got the other 3 to work ok.

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I measured tenons to match the mortises and sawed them out.

I cut and planed the ends at a 45 so that one tenon would not interfere with the other inside the joint. I cut and angled haunch on each tenon and chiseled out a recess to match on each mortise.

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The joints pulled together OK. Some shoulders were gappy as I didn’t get the knife lines perfect when crosscutting the shoulders.

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Here’s all the joints pulled together. The legs here are longer than they ought to be as I wanted to put it together roughly before I measured and exact height.

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I took the lot apart and trimmed the top of the legs to match where they meet the aprons and then cut off the bottoms to length.

True to form, I cut off the wrong end of the leg on which I laid out the mortises incorrectly.

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So, next step was to either fix the bad leg, or cut a new one from another 2×4. I figured the handiest way out was to work on what I had, fit a blank into one of the mortises and then start over.

I cut a blank to match the height of the mortise and planed the width.

Here you can see my planing stop, which is like a bench hook that is held in the front vise. A cedar shim kept it up off the bench so that the plane didn’t slam into the planing stop.

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Here is the filler glued into one of the mortises.

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While that was gluing up, I started out to put a taper on the legs. I wanted a taper on the inside faces, starting about 1/2″ down from the apron and ending up with a 5/8″ x 5/8″ square on the bottom of the leg.
The first I started by cutting roughly to a line and finishing up with a smoothing plane to get the taper.

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The rest of the legs I just took down using a jack plane with a 8″ radius blade. I had used the jack after sawing the first leg. The plane was a lot faster to use.
I did find it handy though to saw the first leg as the cutoff was used in the vise to help clamp the legs in place.

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I cut off the filler piece in the last leg and planed it smooth.

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I did a dry fit, took the lot apart. Then glued up the joints one by one and set it aside to set up.

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On to doing the top. I ripped up another 2×4.
I jointed the edges and joined the lot toghether. I didn’t flatten each board before gluing as I figured I’d do the lot together.
I don’t know if this was a good idea or not. The grain was running in every direction so I didn’t see if it would make a difference or not.

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After the top was glued up, I flattened it by using the jack plane an angle in one direction and then at an angle crossing the previous lines and then along with the grain.
A run with the smoother plane got it smooth enough. If you stand far enough away it looks fine.
I laid in on top of the legs and cut it to width and length, allowing for 1″ of an over-hang on the front and back and a 2″ overhang on each end.

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I put the tabletop in the vise and put a chamfer along the length
I put the tabletop on the bench and butted it up against the planing stop and planed a wide chamfer along the width.
This process is like the panel-raising we have been shown.

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I put the tabletop on the legs for a quick inspection.
Looks like a table to me.
It was, of course, that I now remembered that I did not account for turnbuttons to attach the table top.
I cut up some L-shaped moulding into 6 pieces each about 1-1/2″ long. Each of these was screwed to the inside of each apron and then another screw went into the table top at 90 degrees. Hard to explain I guess, but I didn’t take any pictures.
I gave the lot 2 coats of flat black latex paint and then a coat of wax.

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Finished product.

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