How to Make a Table: Episode 3

How to Make a Table 3

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With the tenons fitted on one leg frame, Paul shows two other methods for cutting the tenons and how to fit tenons using the router. Once all the tenons and mitres are cut, the whole frame can be clamped up to check if the shoulders are seated. Then we’re ready to describe the arches for the aprons, as well as marking the leg taper and turnbutton mortises.


  1. Farred on 24 August 2016 at 4:01 pm

    More great info. Like others, I thought we’d been taught all the basics about making tables.

    • silenthill on 24 August 2016 at 6:13 pm

      We have, I love Paul and his team and the work they’ve done for us as members. But the month of August appears to be a 15.00 refresher course.

    • rnieuwenhuijs on 24 August 2016 at 8:38 pm

      I agree: more great info. We made a similar table during the 9 day foundation course, and I still picked up new tips from this episode (the ‘cork in the bottle’ and different ways to cut the mitre). Great stuff.

  2. knightlylad on 24 August 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Thank you for the great lesson.

  3. Wayne on 24 August 2016 at 10:34 pm

    I enjoyed the episode however I hope you will consider using some of the other tools mentioned like a shoulder plane in future episodes. It doesn’t have to be presented as needing to have one, just some instruction on best practices if you DO have one. This would also provide some variety in the episode from previous lessons.

  4. mxbroome1 on 25 August 2016 at 1:04 am

    Amazing. Watch the reflection of the wood when he cuts the mitre. It never wavers. When I cut my mitres the reflection is back and forth, up and down. Heavy sigh. I guess 50 years of cutting wood makes one a little better at saw work. 🙂

    • Farred on 25 August 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Yes, I think the two foundational skills for joinery are sawing straight and planing at 90 degrees (jointing an edge). If I could only do those two.

  5. mxbroome1 on 25 August 2016 at 1:27 am

    I wonder how many small tables Paul had to make as an apprentice before his master said “well done lad, you’ll make a wood worker some day!”

  6. drdee1280 on 25 August 2016 at 10:45 am

    As Wayne above has mentioned, please give a quick lesson on shoulder planes (set up and use). Thanks for the lesson.

    • SharpPencil on 27 August 2016 at 4:53 pm

      I agree….ref shoulder planes. I have two really clean wooden shoulder planes and have used them on tenons, to good effect I would really appreciate a tutorial on their use.
      Plus also Paul you have a collection of moulding planes behind your bench could we be treated to instructions on their use.
      I have a very nice collection and just get on with them!!…..PLEASE.

      thanks John 2V

  7. Sandy on 27 August 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I’m curious about one feature of the Haunch. In the Sofa Table lessons you tapered the Haunch and on this one it is square. Is there a reason for one above the other or is it just a mater of choice?

  8. sethyellin on 12 March 2017 at 3:07 am

    I am making a rectangular version of this table (roughly 24×48″). I have milled the wood and cut the parts to dimension and began the mortising and just saw that one of my long apron has developed a bow…about 1/8″ on either end. What should I do? I’m out of stock and would need to go to lumberyard for another board which is a good 2 hr trip. Should I plow on and work with the bowed apron in the hope that it doesn’t affect the final product? Or is that doomed to fail and I should get a new board? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    • Philip Adams on 13 March 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Hello Seth,
      If you can easily flex/push it straight with hand pressure, then your joinery will easily pull it straight, especially over that distance. Is that the case?

    • Michael Ostrander on 5 January 2018 at 5:22 am

      An 1/8th of an inch over 4′ should make no,difference as far as joinery is concerned and would be all but indecernable in the finished piece.

      That said, if it bothers you, just plane off 1/32″ to a 1/16″ off the middle of the outside of the bow and the same off the ends of the inside. Should take about 2 to 3 minutes. You’ll be the only person in the world that knows one apron is a little thinner than the other… well except for me that is. Ha!

      • Iain Osborne on 14 May 2018 at 10:17 pm

        Another possibility is an extra piece of wood with a sliding dovetail at both ends connecting the two long side at their middles. Hope it’s understandable…

  9. Gene Takach on 27 April 2018 at 6:23 pm

    It seems like the mitered tenons can cause some headaches.
    Is the extra glueing surface worth it?

    • Ronald Kowalewski on 28 April 2018 at 2:44 am

      The personal challenge is worth it! When i make my next one ill definitely make my tenons a lil less thick, i split the leg, Super glued it back together and then thinned the tenon. Should have properly fit it the first time!

  10. David Mills on 30 April 2018 at 1:02 am

    Another great woodworking lesson, thanks. What make are the clamps used on the table? They look to be really well made.
    Dave Mills

    • M W on 30 April 2018 at 5:47 am

      I think they are relatively inexpensive aluminum beam clamps that can be had cheaply at Harbor Freight or its like. Don’t get the cheap bar clamps. Anything over 12″ and the bar flexes and puts a torquing force on the pieces.

      Paul has a video about these clamps either here or on Youtube on modifying the same.

    • Philip Adams on 30 April 2018 at 1:57 pm

      Mike is spot on. Some more information available here:

  11. Christopher Johnston on 9 June 2018 at 5:40 am

    I thoroughly appreciate all the different techniques you teach us and I don’t care how many times you repeat and reinforce these lessons .

  12. Pjotr Bos on 8 December 2019 at 10:51 am

    Hello Paul,

    In episode 3 of “how to make a table” you clamp up the aprons between the legs to see if everything fits and al the shoulders are nicely seated. This is a fairly small table, how would you clamp a large dining table?

    Kind regards,

    • Pjotr Bos on 8 December 2019 at 11:31 am

      Okay… there actually are large sash clamps over 1900 mm and loose clamp mechanisms you can fix on long beams of wood to Mach your work. Etc. Ow and also use drawbore mortise and tenen. So I answered my own question. But other tips are always welcome.

      • Izzy Berger on 10 December 2019 at 11:53 am

        Hi Pjotr,

        I passed your question on to Paul and his answer is below:

        What I’ve done in the past is that I’ve actually bolted two clamps together and this works fine or, as you mentioned, drawbore mortise and tenons.

        Kind Regards,

      • Ed on 10 December 2019 at 1:03 pm

        If you are using the style of clamp Paul uses, you can use the wood insert to bridge two together. At least, that can be done with the ones from Harbor Freight. You need to disassemble one of the clamps by removing the pin that holds on the head, but the head aside, pull the end plug out of a second clamp, and then bridge between the two with the wood filler. You also need to drill through the bars and insert a bolt through each bar and the wooden filler. This may be what Paul means by bolting clamps together. Sometimes, you can just daisy chain clamps together, but sometimes that doesn’t pull true.

  13. Larry Geib on 10 December 2019 at 4:43 pm

    The first set of clamps I purchased many years ago were Pony pipe clamps, which were the only long clamps reasonably priced and available back then. You can screw them to any length 3/4” black pipe up to 20’ long. I screwed on some to 6’ lengths of pipe. With a screw coupler and additional pipe, you can add to their length.

    A couple still get used to square up large carcasses.

    • Colin Scowen on 10 December 2019 at 9:26 pm

      I love the flexibility of pipe clamps. My other workbench is a variation on the ‘new fangled workbench’ from FWW. I also made (just to see if I could do it really) a home made version of the pipe clamp based vise that you can see in the Lee Valley catalogue.

  14. Benoît Van Noten on 11 December 2019 at 3:39 pm

    long clamping
    Sometimes, a “Spanish windlass” (or more a modern ratchet strap) can be used.
    Although, one must protect the arrises of the piece, otherwise the pressure of the rope (or the strap) will bruise the arrises.
    One other possible inconvenient is that the pressure can not always be exercised exactly were you want it.

  15. Colin Scowen on 11 December 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Another option (depending on what you are making of course), especially if you have some scrap left over that is the same thickness as the legs, is to cut some small sections, attach some ply on either side with a couple of holes in, slide these around the legs, put a bolt through the hole, and then either use string to pull two of them together, or, depending on the size, and the length you make the ply sides, one of the clamps that you do have.
    Again, depending on what you are making, you could also glue or screw two blocks between two long lengths of ply, drill through holes in the blocks, set some long bolts or threaded rod through the holes and in to two more pieces that have blind holes in, and then use those to push parts together. These can also be used for panel glue ups as well. If you want something similar that works more quickly, replace the threaded rod with a pair of wedges, one of which is fixed to each block.
    Another option, again depending on what you are making, is to drill down through a section that won’t be seen (top of a leg that will be hidden by a table top for example), put screws or pins in, and tie them together.

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