Leg Frame Jointing

After another two-hours in the workshop last night and, after sitting down to type this post after a long day at work, I find myself coming to the realisation that blogging is more enjoyable when it’s more ‘impulsive’ like this and almost bite-sized (compared to my usual posts). I plan to much and stress about getting each post perfect, a lot of time. That’s not really what blogging should be about (I’ve been here before but, with a lack of workshop activity – I think – I lost my way again).

Last night, I looked long and hard at the fold-out leg frames and how I would joint and assemble them…

Even before I bought the timber for this job, I’d spent a lot of time thinking about the joints I could and would use in the four-corners of each frame. For a long time, I was in favour of using a half-lap joint; maybe even a bridle joint, if I could set up my mortiser to remove waste from the ‘female’ half of the joint (the stiles).

But, I don’t like to rely on glue-strength alone (half-laps) in situations like this and, with a couple of  lengths slightly distorted with a twist, I wasn’t confident in the thought of running them against my bandsaw’s fence. So, during the final-hour, I made a decision to just cut biscuit slots!

I was able to cut no.20 slots in the ends of the 90mm wide bottom rails but, as the top rails were only 69mm wide, I had to restrict myself to using no.10s, while ensuring that each slot was cut as close to centre as possible.

You’ll also notice, above, how I use a pair of bench dogs to hold a short work piece ‘steady’ as I cut the slots. One dog is positioned to counteract the direction of the blade’s rotation and I use the T-shaped scrap of wood (a test piece) to hold the wood down, referencing solely from the base of the tool, on 19mm material.

Another thought was on whether or not I should include some kind of mid-rail, to stiffen each panel-less frame structure. I first considered a diagonal ‘chevron’ style layout (see first photo) but, I knew that I didn’t want it to be dead-central (I don’t always like to produce symmetry and centre-lines). I wasn’t convinced by this and so, decided to set the mid-rail a little closer to the bottom rail (above), with an almost square opening beneath (as you tend to see on frame and panelled doors).

Of course, I gave each components a good sanding (before assembling but after joint-cutting) to remove prior marks from machining and pencil lines. Belt sanders can be volatile if you don’t secure you work down carefully. I don’t trust rubber sanding mats or even Bench Cookies on stuff this small so, I place a stop (less than the material thickness) against two bench dogs and this seems to work well (as long as the materials aren’t bowed and sit flat on the bench).

Upon assembling both frames, a quick inspection with a tape measure revealed that I’d been a little ‘eager’ with my belt sander, as one stile was now only 17mm thick at one end! This may’ve been the same length I attempted to flatten on my planer, even though it was already PAR.

Biscuits aren’t really the same as true tenons and, let’s be honest; their strength doesn’t match that of the Festool Domino jointer either. That’s also why I think the third rail was a good addition.

There’s still a bit of cleaning up and flattening to be done and I also need to cut the top to length fairly soon – I’m planning to do this with my skil saw and was hoping to be able to do it outside. But, the weather seems to have other ideas and I don’t like filling my workshop with fine dust (I really MUST get my extraction sorted!!).

Thanks for reading.

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