This project followed quickly on the heels of the file cabinet and I finished it much faster, by the end of 2010–less than a year. The main challenge of this piece was learning to cut mortise and tenon joints. This piece had only 8 little mortise and tenon joints unlike the file cabinet which had over 19 linear feet of dovetails. The mortise and tenon appears to be more difficult to cut than the dovetail, but with only 8 of them to cut, it didn’t take long.
This piece is made of canarywood, which is apparently somewhat harder than hard maple. I suspect it was not the best wood to choose for learning mortise and tenon joinery. I found it necessary to drill a starter hole with the drill press. Subsequent cuts with the mortise chisel follow the initial hole, and the mortise comes out square to the face. When I tried to do it entirely by hand I would invariably get a crooked mortise.
Another observation is that by this point, I’m doing much better at jointing by hand. The key for me was learning the methods described by David Charlesworth. Everybody else, when talking about hand jointing, seems to suggest that you should grab your plane, and just go to work, and the board will become flat. That “method” never worked for me. And when I first tried edge jointing, I gave up in frustration and did it with the router. For this project I edge jointed everything by hand using a cambered blade and stop shavings as Charlesworth teaches.
I also tried Old Brown Glue, but I found it had at best a 5 minute working time in my shop, which is just too short. The glue line I had gotten—this was for a tabletop edge joint—was too wide, so I tried to reverse the joint with water and heat. But I couldn’t get the hide glue to let go and I eventually sawed it apart.