Thursday, March 15, 2012

A New Leaf

No, not that kind of a leaf. It seems that our dining room table, which we almost never use and although already pretty big by reasonable standards, was a little short. I'd been planning to build a new leaf or get one built by my brother at the shop where he works, Lyndon Furniture, which actually built the table to begin with, for some time, but just never got to it. Not until now that is.

Last Saturday Cathy and I ventured in to Anderson McQuaid, the areas premier millworks shop. They produce the custom reproduction millwork for many of the high end historic restorations in the area. The supply This Old House. They also retail high end hardwood lumber. Our table is made of cherry and I didn't have enough stock on hand of the right dimension to make the new leaf. The tabletop is actually 15/16" which meant I'd need 5/4" which is actually 1" dimensional thickness, as close as I'd get without a custom milling. After some trouble finding the place (tucked in behind some office parks and much bigger than I expected) we found what we needed, 15' of 5" x 5/4". $80 later we were off.

A couple of days ago I started the milling and glue up of the top. I also milled the rails, which were like 9/16", from some 4/4" x 5" rough cherry I had on hand. I also built the overlap molding that rode between the rail of the leaf/table and covered the joint. The rails were attached using pocket holes made with the neat jig my brother gave me a few years back. I also made small, right angle brackets with screw holes for the inside of the rail and underside of the top, to help hold the rails perpendicular to the top. It all went together well. The next step was to drill the 3/8" holes for the pins. They needed to be specifically centered and horizontal to the top so I made a jig to hold the drill bit parallel and plumb which I clamped to the top. It worked just fine.

The T shaped butt end joint molding which covers the joint between the rails of the table/leaf.

The last step was the finish. I used clear rattle-can lacquer as I have done before and which is the normal finish for this type of furniture, including this particular table. After letting the multiple coats set over night, I went at it with steel wool to smooth the grain and even the finish. A little polish and she looks just fine.

I also took some time this morning to build a new branding iron, because, you know, everyone needs a branding iron to distinguish their property, right? My old one fell apart years ago when it literally couldn't take the heat. This one is welded up from solid steel so should last for a while. Yes, I know, I am vain.

The new iron, which is hard as sin to heat up I discovered.

Of course, cherry ages and darkens over time so the new leaf is significantly lighter than the table. That will change over time. The fit is pretty good but not perfect. I'm told that it never is and what they do with them involves ample work with the belt sander to custom fit it. I have one side of one joint that is sitting a hair low, maybe 1/32". I don't think I'll get after the table with the sander though. Maybe I'll try and wedge to bring it up or maybe I'll just live with it.

The finished product as it sits now and forever, likely, given how much we like change.

One more project down. Guess it's time to start that mantle.

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