All About That Base – Part I

A quick recap of the last post: indecision, base troubles, insomnia, eureka.


Modern slab table from Nick Offerman’s Good Clean Fun

As I was saying… I didn’t like the way the base splayed-up (for a lack of better terminology) in Offerman’s book. It’s ok. And if I had a client ask me to make it that way, I would. For me though, I needed to turn the base upside down. This adds visual heft to the bottom where it, and least for me, belongs. With the plan set I got started on the head scratching experiences of angled joinery. I set my sights on using the Festool Domino (both large and small). I have the smaller version, and fortunately for me, I borrowed the larger one from my friend Brian. Using these tools are a dream but getting my head around angles called for practice joints and missteps.

The first step was to set my bevel gauge for 7 (ish) degrees. I kept this angle throughout the build, which deviates slightly from the plans in the book. From there I cut parts at the miter saw and roughly laid everything out on the table to see if it looked right.

With the initial sniff test over, I did some research on angles with the Domino. Truthfully, there is little out there on this topic. I kept running into the same 2 or 3 articles and videos. For these end pieces I used the small Domino and made tick marks. Then I lined up the Domino perpendicular to both sides of the joint. This makes for an angled tenon, especially after you glue it in to the end grain of the angled uprights. I set the upright mortise for the tight setting and the ones on the opposing face for the looser setting. This gave me some wiggle room. I posted the pictures below to Instagram to ask for advice if anyone had trepidation regarding the spacing of this joint.

Several commenters suggested adding lateral offset to the tenons to help with racking. After I got things together, I agreed since I experienced a slight amount of unsureness when I twisted the pieces a bit.  To remedy everything, I glued in dominos, let them cure, and flush trimmed the exposed ends. Then I recut everything as shown below.


The recut mortise (tight setting) on the angled uprights

I dry fit everything. Feeling confident, I cleaned up the inside faces with a hand plane, added glue and used the offcuts to make the clamp up easier. Seriously, hold on to these things; they saved my bacon on several occasions during this build.

After taking these out of the clamps, I setup the table saw to make the angled cuts on the top and bottoms of these assemblies. The cutting was really easy but the thinking was not. I double and triple checked which side was what.

In the end, the cuts were perfect. In the next post I’ll go into detail regarding the stretchers and the growing pains of more angled joinery.



About Shawn Nichols

Heady. Phishy. Woodworker
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