Stretched thin

The first bit of making our little Stickley tabouret is to make the bottom stretchers.  There’s a lot going on in there, though it doesn’t look like it.  I start by cutting tenons on the end.  To keep my shoulders crisp (a real essential for working in the Arts and Crafts style), I not only knife in the cut lines, but also pare down a little bit to create a trough for the saw teeth to ride in.  This helps to ensure that the saw doesn’t jump off the cutline, or wander even slightly, creating a gappy shoulder.

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I cut shoulders, then the cheeks on my tenons.  This way, if I somehow get a bound up saw and it decides to split the cheek off instead of saw it off, the split doesn’t continue down into the rest of my workpiece.  I saw from the corners down to my shoulder line on one side, then flip the stretcher around and saw in from the other side, meeting in the middle.  Then I’ll put the workpiece vertically in the vice and saw down to my shoulder line.  Doing it this way helps to make straight cuts down the cheeks, preventing any binding later.

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Next, I’ll cut the curved underside of the stretchers.  This will work better if you clamp the stretchers together and fair them in as a unit.  Not only is it faster than doing them one at a time, but it helps to ensure that any irregularities in your thickness are the same on both pieces.

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This idea of making sure that the stretchers are the same (even if they’re not exactly the nominal width) is important because the next thing to do is make a halving joint.  This seems pretty simple, but do take some care at it since not only are all the surfaces visible when you’ve got it assembled, but all of those surfaces are bearing on one another as well.  It will take a little fussing to get it together, but keep at it.

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Finally, the subassembly for the stretchers will go together, with the tenons cut, the curves faired in, and the halving joint fitted.

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