Bent Lamination: Making the Apron

Clamping Form and 2 Walnut Boards

The front apron on the bow front table is, of course, curved. To make this curve, I’m using two pieces of walnut that I re-sawed into 1/8″ thick pieces. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a single piece thick enough and so I had to use two pieces. I spent a lot of time working out the front piece and am really happy with the results (see last picture).

After re-sawing the walnut, I only cleaned it up marginally with some sandpaper. In retrospect, this was a mistake as my final apron piece is not of uniform thickness (from top to bottom). I could work around it, but needless to say that was a little annoying. I could have re-sawn slightly thicker and used my thickness planer (with backer) to get a uniform thickness across the thin pieces. Or, if I had a drum sander of course that would be much better!

Clamps on Bending Form

I put wax on the form and on 3 pieces of 1/8″ masonite that I used in the clamping sandwich: 1 next to the form and 2 on the outside. The furniture wax worked like a champ – the masonite popped right off after the glue was dry. I put the form and masonite in ready position on top of a lot of clamps.

I spread Titebond III glue on both sides of each of the six pieces. I could have gotten away with spreading just on one side and that would have saved me some precious minutes. Next time. I then put the pieces between the masonite and started clamping to the form, starting with the middle clamp and working my way out. After getting things pretty tight at each stage, I came back and really cranked down on each clamp. I also added clamps from the top since the apron is wider than the face of the clamps.

Apron and Form

Next time I think it would be better to get the middle clamps very tight, both top and bottom before doing any other clamps. Then move out to the next set, top and bottom and get those done; and so on, moving outwards. By getting all the clamps pretty tight and then coming back, I probably stopped some slippage from happening. The results were good, but I bet the latter method would be even better.

After 24 hours in the clamps, I removed the apron and scraped off the glue. It had bonded pretty well and unfortunately my skraper had not yet arrived. I settled on the back of an old chisel. Then over to the jointer and tablesaw for final cleanup.

I had some spring back from the form, probably about 1/8″ at the ends. Not a big deal, but it does mean that the apron no longer follows the curve form that I created (the apron has a slightly shallower curve). This could be trouble if I need to use the form again, which in my case I did not (blog posts trailing badly…).  It would have been faster to re-use the form in a couple of places, but not a big deal to not use it.

Ready to get to other parts and some joinery!

Apron just out from the form

Torsion Box Assembly Table: Front Vice

The Assembly Table has been in great use for the last months.  It’s awesome to have a perfectly flat reference surface on which to assemble projects.

Front Vice Old Position

However, one problem I’ve had since I replaced the top is the front vice.  My old top was 1.5″ thick and the front vice was level with the top.  The new torsion box top is thicker (about 4″) and so the top of the vice sits about 2″ below the table top.  That makes it near impossible to clamp many things and work from the top.  In addition, the vice dog isn’t high enough to be above the table top, rendering it useless.

Also, the back jaw of the vice is just bolted to the top’s cherry edging and therefore it’s proud of the front edge.  This is the same as it was on the previous top, but I want to fix that and make it inline with the tabletop’s front edge for clamping longer boards.

So, I took the time to recess the front vice both vertically and horizontally.  I needed to raise it about 1.5″ into the torsion box and .5″ back from the front.

I unscrewed the torsion box top from the base and flipped the whole thing over.  I then traced where I needed to remove material and measured exactly how much I wanted to remove in both directions.  I took off the vice, which is attached with 2 bolts from below and 2 screws into the back jaw.

Front Vice Inset

I started with the the front piece.  Using my Lie-Nielsen carcass saw, I cut through the cherry edging, which surrounds the torsion box MDF.  The small piece I removed wasn’t attached at all (the screws were on either side), so it popped off no problem.  It turns out that it’s thickness was exactly what I needed to remove, so I lucked out there not needing to add or remove any more material from the front edge.

I started using the router to remove material from below, but with 1.5″ to go and a large area, that was going to take awhile.  So, I switched over to a drill and forstner bit to remove the bulk of the MDF (skin) and plywood (filler blocks in the torsion box).  That went well, and then I could use the router from there to clean up the recess.

Vice Underside Recessed

I used a flush trim bit and freehanded the first couple of passes to my pencil lines before the bearing got low enough to follow my first passes.  One mistake I made at this point was that I went all around the outside first, which meant that as I went lower, I had no support for the router base to get to the middle section.  Instead I should have gone front to back, getting to full depth – which would have left material behind the router to support the base.  In any case, I was able to chisel out the middle section which wasn’t a big deal.

With material removed, I placed the vice into the hole.  I got it as close to 90 degrees to the top as I could.  It’s now sitting just below the hardboard top and just about inline with the front cherry edge.  I added some leather to the back jaw and a piece of cherry to the front jaw.  I’m definitely looking forward to lots of great use with the new position!

Front Vice Complete

Front Vice