Sofa Table: Episode 1

Sofa Table 1

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Paul talks us through the design elements of the table and lays everything out on the storyboard. From this, he marks out and cuts the mortice holes for the apron, introducing a new style of tenon and mortice.

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  1. Matt on 9 April 2014 at 8:39 pm

    I really enjoyed the beginning where you showed how you layout to scale your projects. One question that’s comes to me is why on plywood or mdf instead o paper?

    Thanks again for the great video. They just keep getting better.


    • Paul Sellers on 9 April 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Rigidity really. It may not be dead clear to you because of the colour of the wood in contrast to the pencil lines and reflection of light against you, but it is very clear to me. I might consider using a thin line black pen for future. Finding pads large enough can be problematic too, but ever since I can remember we woodworkers have used wood for story boards to develop layout details. I don’t suppose I will change now.
      I think everyone will enjoy following this series. I know that I have enjoyed building it. I am mostly done on a second one as a computer desk for my wife too.

      • Matt on 9 April 2014 at 10:13 pm

        Thanks that make sense. Can’t wait to see the how you do the angle on the tenons. I have tried them but my accuracy is not where I’d like it.

  2. STEVE MASSIE on 9 April 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks Paul and Staff, this is going to be another great series. I like how you incorporate new way’s of procedures in your projects. I will defiantly be a very busy man building these projects.


  3. nhwoodworker on 9 April 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Thanks for showing us the layout prior to starting building. I have a question regarding stock preparation. Do you four square your stock with hand tools, machines, or a combination of the two?


    • Philip Adams on 16 April 2014 at 11:20 am

      Hi George,
      We use a combination of the two. For this project, we filmed the preparation of the stock using hand tools, and that video will be going up soon. But quite often the stock is prepared using a planer thicknesser, or we get pre-prepared stock from the timber merchant. We try to use as the type of stock and preparation methods that the majority of people will be able to use.

  4. norm lafond on 9 April 2014 at 10:22 pm

    thanks for going over the use of the story board. I have used story boards for ceramic tile installations and built in cabinet installs, but never like this. It will be very useful to me. It was also nice to see that it is natural for the chisel to bind in the mortise. That happens to me quite a bit. Also like the fix for the chisel moving away from the jig. Simple things like that are a huge help.


  5. sherbin18 on 9 April 2014 at 11:07 pm

    The process of laying out the story board was very enlightening. It lets one see exactly the angles and the dimensions.

    As always, an excellent job.

    By the way, I used my strop exclusively on a project involving 32 dovetails with having to resort to the stones to resharpen and my chisel edges gleamed like Paul’s. I wondered how he got his chisel edges so pristine. Now I know.


  6. sherbin18 on 9 April 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Should have been “without having to resort to the stones.” Really worked out well.

  7. david o'sullivan on 10 April 2014 at 1:40 am

    just curious as to why a sloped haunch would be introduced and how does it compare to a regular square haunch is it important to the mechanics of the joint or is it simply another method of how to do it. another great episode thanks

    • jasonwb on 10 April 2014 at 3:28 am

      I wonder the same thing. Why would you choose one haunch type over the other?
      Great episode – can’t wait to build it!


    • Sandy on 16 April 2014 at 2:54 am

      I was wondering the same. Maybe it will become clear in following episodes.

    • Greg Merritt on 16 April 2014 at 4:37 am

      This is a guess and only a guess. It seems to me that this style haunch will leave just a little more support for the top area of the leg. This will give a little insurance to prevent chip out of the area if the table is ever subjected to twisting. Just a thought.

      • MTaylor on 21 April 2014 at 9:09 am

        I just followed the tip from David Billinhurst’s post regarding the gutenburg project. I located a book titled “Woodworking Joints, How They are Set Out, How Made and Where Used” by William Fairham. There is a section that discusses these sloped haunches. From my reading it seems to imply that this style of haunch is the standard and the square “filler’ haunch is only used when required to fill an exposed dado.
        The reason for this style given is to prevent “lipping” or the faces becoming uneven. I would presume that the mechanical function transers movement across the width, to longitudinal movement.

    • Paul Sellers on 17 April 2014 at 9:38 pm

      The sloped haunch is also called the blind or hidden haunch and can be used in situations where the craftsman, the designer or the customer might not want to see the tail end of the haunch. I though it was a good idea to introduce it here as a good place to practice it rather than down the road when we need it as part of an actual project. Doors are a good example for this. Sometimes when we a cabinet or frame or even a door that’s low down and visible from the top edge we can see this aspect of a haunch. So, in the end we have the integrity of a haunch without the visible aspect of a standard square haunch

  8. dpaul on 10 April 2014 at 2:11 am

    I would be tempted to strop my chisel at this point, to keep it razor sharp. Does your edge last you the entire mortising?

  9. Gareth Martin on 11 April 2014 at 10:04 am

    Amazing! Early on when you mentioned the slope haunch on the tenon I felt the squirm of unease at a development too technical, beyond my skills. Then, when you demonstrate the forming of the haunch it is such a simple thing that I wonder why all mortice and tenon joints aren’t made with a sloping haunch just for the sake of it and for the joy of doing it. Terrific finale, thanks.

  10. adrian on 17 April 2014 at 3:23 am

    Great layout lesson, learned a new jig keeping a mortise plumb and true.
    I have also gained a window into how a haunch-ed mortise can be added.
    Thanks for leading the way.

  11. pigiron on 25 April 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Incredible joint. Haunch? Haunch? What a great strength addition! I’ve only made three projects, so far, that used mortise and tenons. I was pretty proud of my drill press mortises, and my homemade tenoning jig on my table saw…until I saw Paul’s hand cut, mating mortise and tenons with a sloping haunch. I have so much to learn! This is far beyond what I ever thought a chisel could be used for. Great demo, and very inspiring. Now, if I only knew how to sharpen my chisels! Thanks, Paul!

  12. Cormac on 8 May 2014 at 10:59 pm

    The mortising guide is a brilliant idea. I have had problems keeping the chisel true, probably from standing at the wrong side of the vise when chopping and not getting a good feel for square. The meeting rails or aprons then run off at an angle. Arghhhh! I will definitely be trying this one out. I loved the layout of the story board and am going to give that a go too. Thanks for helping keep the craft very much alive.

  13. Sandy on 24 May 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Paul, I’m going to show my ignorance here. What is the purpose for the Haunch? Does it give the joint extra strength? Or is it simply a fool proof feature so that I don’t get the tenon turned the wrong way after fitting? Or is it just one of those craftsman features that just needs to be there? Can you give a little history on that particular feature? I like it, but If I use the hidden Haunch nobody will ever know it’s there except as you say, in a hundred year another craftsman might recognize it for what it is?

  14. Paul Sellers on 31 May 2014 at 2:20 am

    The haunch is an idiosyncratic feature used by craftsmen joiners and furniture makers to extend the support of a tenon all the way to the top of the shoulder of the tenon and enclose it in the mortise while preserving the integrity of the mortise as it surrounds the tenon on all four sides. It’s possibly a little easier and a little quicker than cutting out the corner altogether because you would then need to cut out the corner while making sure you don’t cut into the shoulders if you were cutting with the saw across from front face to back.
    A second reason arises when making doors and panels made with grooves. This feature allows the groove all the way through whether you use a machine or a plough plane. The haunch then fits the exact depth of the groove leaving no gaps. A haunch only occurs at the corners of frames such as doors, tables and chairs.

    • Sandy on 1 June 2014 at 12:22 am

      Thank you. Now if I can just get back on my project I can cut the rest of the mortises and move on to the next video.. I need to hire someone to do the honey-dos so I can get back to the real work!

    • Betzalel on 17 August 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Just to make sure I understand it, I would only use the haunch when near end grain, to be able to make the mortise wider without reaching the top of the leg. I would NOT use it at a chair rung or anywhere that is not close to the end grain, in that case I can just make the mortise as wide as I like.
      Did I get it right?

  15. Mgolfyork on 10 June 2014 at 10:13 am

    When I went to dry fit the table, it wouldn’t meet. I noticed a couple of my boards angled off legs. When I fit the last tenon, none of the joints were seated. I used the mortise guide and cut the tenons on the table saw. Just curious where I could have gone wrong.

  16. Sandy on 15 June 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Michael something is not be square. Check your stock for perfect square and the guide you are using to chop the mortises. I made one and found that I had a taper in the shim under the plate and had to remake it.. also check your table saw to make sure it is square. If you check the features that you have cut, what ever is not square should tell you where the issues are and it could be a combination of things. Not having the parts in front of me makes it a bit hard diagnose. Good luck finding it.

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