Side Trip: Miter Saw Fence, and Back to the Top

This project (the Stickley table) is challenging in part because of the angles of the legs. They meet the top and sides at about a 3 1/2 degree angle. It doesn’t have to be an exact measurement, but it does have to be exactly the same on all four legs, and each leg has to match the sides. Most of the cuts will be made by hand, but there are a couple of things I’m going to do on the miter saw. One of them is to cut an angled guide for the handwork to insure its accuracy.

I’ve noticed recently that my miter saw (a Hitachi C10FSH 10″ sliding compound miter saw, actually) has fence problems. The right side of the fence is machined with a slight curvature. Not much, but enough that it’s caused me problems. As far as I can tell, the curvature is only there to allow the cutoff section to shift back and impact the blade, causing it to bind and launch itself at the operator. I don’t like that much.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to fix, and the fix will make use of the saw easier. I added a fence out of hard maple that bolts to the short aluminum fence that’s part of the saw. I added a 2′ piece of Kreg t-track to the top of the fence, to attach a stop to the left side – which is important for keeping multiple pieces to identical length. Measuring each one separately leads to error; bracing them against a hard stop keeps them exactly the same.
I had to limit the fence to a 2″ height – about an inch shorter than I wanted – to give clearance to attach the track. I also added a measuring tape to the top of the track. That was much trickier than I expected, because the measuring marker extends from the right side of the stop about half an inch, so the tape had to be offset to match. This whole arrangement makes it easy for me to cut pieces to length with reasonable accuracy, without having to individually measure each one.

Back to the Top

The top has been removed from clamps, and trimmed to its final dimensions. I have to admit, I’m really pleased about the way the grain in the top looks. There are two or three little black voids in the top, which is typical of mesquite. But that’s okay: because I intend to do something completely different from any of my previous work. I’m going to fill them with melted copper. 
Doing the top now allows me to work on it in conjunction with other parts of the project. It has to be scraped perfectly flat, sanded smooth, have the edges softened, and the voids filled.
Also, the other leg blanks are made and glued up. Next, they have to be trimmed to their final dimensions, and I can move on to other parts of the project.
Dovetail Report: I’ve gotten completely past my problems in getting the saw started, and I’m pretty well used to the new Veritas dovetail saw. The two sets I cut today fit the way I wanted with minimal paring. I also realized that it’s much cleaner to chop the wide part of the pins first; it minimizes the chance of damage to the pins when cutting the narrow side. I’ve also decided to make a small brace to use to set against the marking line, and to make sure the cuts for the tails are perpendicular. More on this later; I’ll post pictures of the jig when it’s done.
I also need to decide what kind of wood to use for the inside of the drawer. I think the maple used for the original table (which was made of oak) is a little light for the darker mesquite. I’m leaning towards sassafras, but I need to sand and finish a piece and see how it looks against the finished mesquite. I also need to do some of my dovetail practice in the wood I’m actually going to use for the drawer.

Next time: squaring the leg blanks, making the dovetail jig, and making the angle jig for the joinery.


One comment on “Side Trip: Miter Saw Fence, and Back to the Top

  1. Phil says:

    Keep on Keepin on…I am really enjoying following your progress.

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