Table update 3 – assembling the table top

Posted by jerry on October 1st, 2007 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Woodwork

The table top is now biscuited, glued and clamped and the glue should be cured by morning 🙂


Having set up the router on the Triton Mark 3 saw bench, and set up the biscuit jointer attachment I set about cutting slots for the 28 biscuits that make up the top – four biscuits per join, across seven joins (eight boards).

Relaxing over lunch I thought I’d check out what other users have said about the biscuit jointer attachment, and was surprised to find several advising against the Triton version on the basis that they couldn’t joint long boards to make, for example, bench or table tops. So I thought I’d set the record straight – you can cut biscuit slots in large boards. In fact the sliding extension table makes it very easy to handle large boards, such as when jointing pairs of boards to make up a table top.

And here’s the proof!

To make the table top I biscuit jointed the boards in pairs, and glued and assembled them and clamped them for about 2 hours, then I took the board pairs and biscuited them, finally setting them onto the Torquata panel clamps for the final full width glue-up. I set the lower clamp legs across the table frame, then laid out the boards in sequence and ran a glue line along each length, inserted the biscuits and closed the seam. Then onto the next and so on until the whole table top was assembled. Then I added the clamp upper and the hardware and clamped the whole thing tight.

Tomorrow I’ll make the breadboard ends – hopefully out of Australian mahogany-like jarrah to match the table aprons.


Table update 2

Posted by jerry on September 30th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Woodwork

Further progress on the table –

dining table

I had previously dry-assembled the frame components and then the following day disassembled it and finished each component, sanding progressively from 320 grit to 1500 grit on the legs and apron pieces. Then I finished each component with Rustins Plastic Coating – which is not as drastic as it sounds. In this case, plastic means pliable or flexible. And unlike most two-part acrylic finishes, this one is an alkyd lacquer – which has the best characteristics of oil and acrylic – it has the flexibility and deep lustre of oil, but the drying time of an acrylic. I was wary of it at first, but the trial pieces came up good with just one coat.

Rustins Plastic Coating

I gave the apron and legs one coat then sanded with 1500 grit, then finished with an Organoil wax/citrus oil polish and buffed it to a nice satin finish.

Organoil wax

I then assembled and glued up the frame, setting it upside down in the car port. i clamped it with a ratchet tie-down, cross measured to ensure it was square, and checked that the legs were vertical in both planes with a square. Satisfied with that I left it to dry overnight.

The next day I cut and finished a cross piece from jarrah and glued and doweled it in position at the half-way mark using Triton PVA glue.


The ash dowels make a nice contrast with the red jarrah.

Next job was cutting the corner braces and fitting them – I pocket screwed them to the side aprons then drilled and used self-drilling hex screws into the legs – I had chamfered the inside corner of the leg for this purpose. And that completed the frame, making a firm yet light frame well able to bear the weight of the ribbon-gum top.

table corner brace

I re-checked the boards for the top and thicknessed a couple of them to ensure an even thickness across all the boards.

Then it was time for a clean-up of the workshop – offcuts and tools stowed and the floors and surfaces vacuumed before setting up for the next phase – making the table top.

I removed the top from the trusty Triton Mark 3 saw bench and put on the router top after ensuring the router was well centred in the router base. Then I attached the biscuit jointer attachment and removed the end-stop as I will want to position biscuits along the length of the two-metre boards. The biscuits function like loose tenons and provide additional face-face gluing surface as well as aligning the boards along one plane, leaving a little room for edge-edge slippage to ensure a good glue spread. I recommend the Triton system – a good Australian invention that just keeps getting better. Although I was a little dismayed that at the Working with Wood Show the triton folks were offering a $100 trade in on any Mark 3 table top. It looks like they are no longer maintaining their philosophy of continuous backward compatibility with earlier models. Mine was made in around 1985 and I have until now always been able to add components using adapters so my basic saw bench remained as versatile as the latest model. But no matter – I think I’ve got all the attachments I need for the moment 🙂 thanks to several years of Wood Show specials!

Triton biscuit jointer attachment

I then did a test cut on some some off-cuts to ensure that the height was adjusted correctly.

biscuit joint

I like the safety mechanisms and dust extraction on the triton, as well as the fact that you cut both timbers at once to ensure perfect alignment every time, and finally, because the jointer is in the table, your hands are free to hold and stabilise the stock.

My task for tomorrow is to cut the biscuit slots for the top and assemble and glue up the top, then square off the ends, and prepare two boards for the breadboard ends. After that I shall attach the breadboard ends, fill the sap cavities with fibreglass resin and then will come the final finish – sanding flat, rounding the edges, and a couple of coats of Rustins Plastic Coating and a final wax. The top will be attached when the table is inside the house, using figure-eight table clips. So the end is in sight.

You will be able to get a complete narrative of the construction process by clicking on the Woodworking category of this blog.


On the etiquette of pokes

Posted by jerry on September 27th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Theory

A while ago someone on Facebook poked me – and then wrote on my wall that they were not sure if they knew me well enough to poke, and whether this was too intrusive.

I had to think about that one. Where does a poke sit, ontologically speaking, – especially a virtual poke?

Clearly a poke is attention seeking, but it’s also a way of saying ‘I’m thinking of you’ – without the complication of words which could be misconstrued. Pokes are relatively undemanding – at least virtual ones are, so there is little pressure – I can choose to respond or not as I see fit and no-one will be upset if I don’t poke back, or if I do.

It is a way of keeping in touch without having to think too hard about a response, and it takes up little bandwidth, unlike the reams of emailed jokes and videos that seem to serve the same function in the email world.

I suppose, like any form of communication it could be seen as adding marks to an otherwise blank space, but it clearly performs a narrative and above all social function. And I suspect that that is why Facebook pokes are so popular – and it’s no accident that the poke function was one of the first to be added to Facebook and forms part of the core of the software.

As a micro-function of social software a poke helps to enact a sense of community and acknowledges that someone out there is thinking of you!


Microsoft in talks with Facebook ??!!!

Posted by jerry on September 26th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology

According to the Wall Street Journal, it appears software giant Microsoft is seeking to claw back some of the advertising revenue from Google, by making a minority investment in social software company Facebook.

Depending on the degree of influence Microsoft seeks to gain, there are potential real downsides to this move, not least of which is the potential for facebook to lose its free-flowing open additions of micro-applications, like scrabulous (online scrabble game).

A further potential downside lies in whether or not Microsoft would start to remove some of the privacy safeguards currently in place in Facebook – at the moment, users can choose what is displayed publicly and what remains to be shared only with friends. I doubt people would want facebook to start acting like Quechup.

At this stage, however, it looks as though Facebook may hold out for a while as it is doing pretty well by sticking with its core business and providing a free-wheeling spontaneous place for people to meet each other and exchange pokes, sheep, flowers or even the odd haggis!

Thanks to Beth Kantor for pointing out this article 🙂

Table update

Posted by jerry on September 25th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Woodwork

The 2003 Canberra Bushfires destroyed one third of the houses in our street, burnt the house next door and laid waste to our garden, burning down six trees in the front yard – including the largest, a ribbon-gum eucalyptus tree. I wanted to make a fitting personal memorial that would live on and symbolise the rebirth of the city after the firestorm. I had the ribbon-gum trunk milled into lumber which then spent the past four years drying in my shed. My aim was to make a new dining table.

With the acquisition of a couple of tools at this year’s Canberra Working with Wood Show I had been saving up for, the time was ripe finally to make a start on the table.

The ribbon-gum had been carefully stacked and stickered and it had not warped very much in the drying process. This timber is very moist and takes a lot of time to dry.

The raw lumber from the milling process was rough


After planing on the jointer though, the true character of the wood was revealed

ribbon gum

The planing process took the lumber from 150mm x 75mm to 120mm x 25mm – just under six inches wide and about one inch thick. The garden was pleased with all the mulch produced by the shavings!

I had some square section from near the outside of the trunk – I figured there might be enough to use for the legs – and I was right.

I cut four pieces to length (720mm) and drilled rectangular holes with a Torquata mortising attachment for the drill press – it worked well – the device works the same way people make mortises normally – there is a drill to remove the bulk of the wood, and this operates inside a square chisel which then cuts the edges into a square shape. Advancing the timber along you can join the holes to make a rectangular mortise into which will go the tenons for the table rails.

mortise attachment

I wanted to taper the legs on two sides, so I used an inexpensive taper jig on the table saw, setting the taper at an angle of 1.75 degrees (approximately). I then did a trial cut with some rubbish lumber and made some minor adjustments until the angle looked right, then tapered the legs – it worked like a charm.

taper jig

Sure you can get fancy ones or make complicated ones, but I only had eight tapers to cut, so I was quite happy with a simple jig that I could slide along against the table saw’s fence. It’s safe enough as long as you keep the table saw’s guard in place and ensure that your hand steadying the timber is beyond the blade to begin with.

I then gave the legs a light sanding and cut the rails to length – adding two centimetres to allow for a one-centimetre tenon at each end.

I marked these up using the mortises in the legs directly, rather than relying on measurements. Then I cut these with a japanese pull saw and chiseled them to thickness – checking them at each stage of the fit to the mortise.

It was time for a test assembly – without glue at this stage as I wanted to ensure that the fit was right all round first.

table frame

The frame is to be a traditional apron style – using contrasting jarrah (the red looks great against the pale ribbon-gum), and will have two cross braces, as well as the usual traditional corner braces. The pale slender tapered legs will give the table a light and airy feel, while being plenty strong enough to take the eucalyptus top.

I laid out the boards roughly to get a sense of the overall feel and dimensions. I am still debating with myself as to whether or not to use breadboard ends.


The boards will be biscuit jointed together and the top secured with traditional buttons. I’ll test a couple of different finishes and decide later whether to varnish, or use an oil finish.

The finished table will be just over two metres in length and 1.2 metres wide and will seat 8-10.

But tomorrow I shall disassemble the frame and do the finish sanding on each piece so there are no hard to reach corners, and I’ll post more as the table progresses 🙂