Wednesday, Thursday: Tapering and Coping Saw-ing — Ethan

The work for these two days was without question the most stressful I’ve done so far. Now that I have the four legs fitted and square to the floor, it was time to cut sections into the tray which the legs will fit through, in addition to their mortises in the table top. Needless to say, they have to be precisely measured and cut — the right tool for that turned out to be the coping saw, which I’d never used before.

A bit apprehensive at first (because of the whole using a tool for the first time for a key part of the project), I managed to get the hang of keeping my blade square in two and sometimes three dimensions at once and very carefully carving out large, not-easily-replaceable chunks of wood.

I have to say I’m not disappointed in how well I did; after two days of on-and-off work with the coping saw and the sanding block for finer work, I have legs A, B, and C fitted more or less how I want them to sit in the final arrangement. Leg D suffered from some mis-measuring, but after this weekend (I’ll be away at Springside Chestnut Hill volunteering at the robotics competition there) I plan to sort out the final leg’s shape in the tray and look at the whole assembly for the first time!

As my “breaks” from working on the tray, I further sanded the large shelf that will live up above the table. It was busywork that didn’t require much thinking, just to take a mental breath and reset.

As if that wasn’t enough cortisol in my system, it was also finally time to taper the legs. That was a process; taking off half an inch of width over a two foot length from the inside two faces of each leg is not a large angle, and Mom and I really had to think through how we were going to maintain the angle, and how to push the whole assembly through the table saw, and all the right forces to put on the wood as we were sliding it through the blade… We got them all done, though, and I was surprised at how the legs went from substantial in a blocky way to substantial in a delicate way. They now fit the scale of the table and they even look elegant, which I’m very pleased with.

Another day or two and I’ll have the tray completed, the wedges driven into the tenons of the legs, and then it’ll be time for a mass sanding and mass finishing. This is the exciting part of the process for me — I can see the end.


Until next time,




Two pictures of legs A and C, which are fit into the tabletop and the tray; one of the large shelf for up above.

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