Leaseman

Having Trouble Cutting Notch To Receive Cross Stretcher

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I'm want to build a coffee table whose legs will be joined together with two boards that will cris cross (to form an "X"). I plan on creating a notch at the top of each leg that will receive the boards. Illustrated in the second picture. For the life of me and can't figure out how to create these notches. So at the risk of embarrassment I'm coming to you fine folks for input. The legs will be about 3" square. the cross members will be about 1 1/2" wide. Below I have drawn out how I envision doing this. Figure "A" is from the top of the leg looking down. You can see the notch will be about 1 1/2" wide, roughly 2 1/2" deep into the leg. The notch will not go all the way through the leg.  Figure "B" shows this from the side of the leg. I forgot to draw it but the notch will do about 3" deep downward into the leg.

I have played around with using my router table, doable perhaps but requires several pass's due to the thickness of the cris cross boards.Another problem I was having using the router table was getting the leg stable. I had to shim up one side to get the angle, I also created stop "blocks" to attempt to hold it into place but it still squirmed about a bit.

Anyone have a better idea on how to do this? It seems like such a basic woodworking issue but I just can't figure it out.

IMG_0586.jpg

IMG_0587.jpg

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Lay it out with a marking knife & blue tape (see some of @derekcohen build journals) then do it old school with a drill & chisel. If you going to do lots of them I'd make up a dedicated jig, but for only 4 legs you could have it done by the time you get it set up to do with power tools.

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Forgive me if I missed it but, is your concern the intersection of the braces or their contact with the legs? 

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Carefully, they will be visible. A drill press, and chisels. A router and chisels.  Chisels will be there in any way you attempt it.  Use a marking knife, and painters tape to set your lies, then carefully drill or router out the bulk, staying away from the lines, then sharp chisels and patience.

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A couple of thoughts:

  • Regarding your diagram "A" - I think I would square the end of the stretcher rather than angle it as you show in the diagram.  It will be easier to square the inside of the mortise (notch) with a chisel than to get that acute angle.
  • I don't know that your mortises need to extend as far into the leg as you show in diagram "A."  If you make it, say, 1-1/2" it should still provide plenty of support, and you'll retain more leg stock around the joint (and you'll have a little less chisel work to do).
  • Unless you're putting a glass top on the table, these joints won't be visible from the top, so you don't really have to make the inside corners of the mortises perfectly square.  So, if your chisel-handling skills are limited, don't worry.
  • As others have mentioned, if you can position the legs so that the mortises are perpendicular to the side of the leg, life will be easier - then you just have to worry about the joint where the stretchers cross.

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But rotating the legs so the faces are perpendicular to the stretchers is going to profoundly affect (and not in a good way IMO) the look of the table.

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It sounds like I have to practice my chiseling skills. I don't have a lot of experience with this type of work. I was hoping there was a way I could do this with my router in the same way I would cut the notch without the angle. I believe this comes down to designing a jig to hold the piece at the correct angle. The ones I test just weren't stable enough.

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I think I’d fab a 45° cradle with fences either side. I’d cut the legs square to the sretcher and could use the fences to true with a shoulder plane maybe. I’d have to play a bit to get that to work. Then you’d have a square face to mortise for a tenon or dowel with a fair amount of repeatability. 

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Essentially this is a mortise and tenon joint with no shoulders on the tenon.  One of the complications for using power tools, such as your router, is that the mortise is at an angle to the face in which it will be cut.  if you want the mortise to be at this angle, you could begin by cutting your pocket to the narrowest dimensions with your router but no technique is going to get you away from wasting away the angled portions with something other than  a chisel.

There was a good suggestion above that you cut the end of your stretcher piece so that the tenon enters the leg at a right angle.  This may weaken the tenon some by making the attachment point to the stretcher much narrower but it does make the joint much easier to complete.  To do this you would cut away the outside corner of your stretcher at the same angle the board approaches the leg.  On the opposite side you would cut a parallel line starting from the corner of your board and the notch in from the side to remove a wedge.  I'm at work right now or I'd draw and post a picture.

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Sorry Byrdie but I can't visualize what your talking about. Are you suggesting to create an angled tenon that would go into the leg at a straight perpendicular direction?

Perhaps I should change my approach and ask what is the best way to attach a stretcher to a leg at an angle in the same design I show above.

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6 minutes ago, Leaseman said:

Sorry Byrdie but I can't visualize what your talking about. Are you suggesting to create an angled tenon that would go into the leg at a straight perpendicular direction?

Exactly.  I believe this may be what wtnhighlander was suggesting above.

6 minutes ago, Leaseman said:

Perhaps I should change my approach and ask what is the best way to attach a stretcher to a leg at an angle in the same design I show above.

Go on straight?  J/K

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If you wish to avoid chisel and router altogether..........you could cut the crossed stretchers at appropriate length and angle for butt joints and then secure each with a couple of #20 [or possibly the larger #9] biscuits........If your gluing and clamping are both thorough then this procedure should work well.

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On 1/28/2019 at 7:20 PM, K Cooper said:

Not never having done this but I’m thinking floating tenons will be the most forgiving.

This is my first thought as well.  Makes more sense if you already have the bits and experience with a plunge router for mortising.

599b35cc50e84_PedTab(24).jpg.a3cb6b2a97958b0eff20e213f8d076a4.jpg

These are plunged perpendicular to the angled face but, I have done them perpendicular to a 90 degree face and then cut the angle with good result.  If you do not already have the long router bits for this I would use a drill bit.  The resulting shoulders on the stretchers would hide any imperfections of the mortise. Dowels may also be a choice.

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I would cut the stretchers 90 degrees and slightly long, use a dowel jig to drill to make deep dowel holes. Then cut the stretchers to the appropriate angle. You could reverse these steps, but I think drilling first will yield better results. 

Now you just need to drill the corresponding holes on the legs at the appropriate angle and dowel it all together. 

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4 hours ago, Isaac said:

I would cut the stretchers 90 degrees and slightly long, use a dowel jig to drill to make deep dowel holes. Then cut the stretchers to the appropriate angle. You could reverse these steps, but I think drilling first will yield better results. 

Now you just need to drill the corresponding holes on the legs at the appropriate angle and dowel it all together. 

Good idea. How do you then, drill the corresponding holes at the proper angle on the legs?

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2 hours ago, Leaseman said:

Good idea. How do you then, drill the corresponding holes at the proper angle on the legs?

Do you have a drill press? you should be able to angle the table. This process would benefit from an accurate sketch up model or a full size mock up drawing, so you can determine the angle. 

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