The customer for this pair of Shaker style nightstands wants them in red oak with a natural finish. They will be 16" square and 24" high. The shelf will be 8" from the bottom.
I spent quite a bit of time at the lumber yard picking out some nice quarter sawn boards. I couldn't find decent rift sawn 8/4 boards for the legs, so I will use quarter sawn for them too.
Here are the major pieces for two nightstands after milling to near final thickness. I'm letting them rest a while before milling them to final dimensions. All the pieces will be crosscut to make 8 legs & 8 aprons. I've picked out the piece with the best figure for the front aprons.
The next step is to crosscut the leg blanks to rough length & make the mortises in the leg blanks with my plunge router. I'm using two edge guides to straddle the leg. The first pass on each leg will make a 1/4" deep blind dado. After they are all done I'll go back & cut the two 15/16" deep mortises for the double tenons on the aprons.
I've made dados in two of the legs. I'll square up the ends later. The quarter sawn figure will face front.
The double mortises for the aprons are routed out.
And squared up with a chisel. I prefer this to rounding over the tenons.
Now for the front aprons. I ripped the rails and cut the center section to make the drawer front & the left and right apron sections.
I spaced the two side apron sections by snugging them up against the drawer front and glued the rails to them. I knocked out the drawer front before the glue set. Later I'll trim the drawer front for the proper fit. The blanks are still oversize and will be trimmed so the rails end up the proper width. I will end up with virtually invisible glue joints, so it will seem that the drawer front was magically cut from the whole apron blank.
Here's the first step in making the tenons for the aprons. I cut tongues on the ends of the aprons with my dado set in my table saw.
Making and fitting the apron tenons to the mortises involves a lot of careful hand work. First I plane the tongues to approximate thickness. Then, using a dovetail saw & a coping saw, I cut the double tenons. Then it's more planing and paring with a chisel until the fit is just right. I'll miter the ends of the tenons since they almost meet inside the legs. I'm going to put a slight chamfer on the ends of the aprons to create a shadow line where they join the legs.
It was very time consuming to get the drawer guides and the kicker (not visible in this picture) lined up correctly, but it is time well spent if the drawers are to fit properly and operate smoothly. This dry fit confirms that so far everything is going according to plan.
I've glued up a blank for the shelves, and grooved the blanks for the breadboard ends. I used my table saw and a flat grind rip blade to make the grooves in two passes. That ensures they are centered. The breadboard ends will be glued only at the front inch or so. I'll pin the ends with dowels that engage slots in the tongues. That will allow for seasonal movement of the shelf without danger of splitting the shelf or pushing the legs apart & breaking the leg to apron joints.
You can see my router table in the background which is set up as an edge jointer.
Making the mortises in the legs for the bottom shelf is next. First I remove the bulk of the waste with a fostner bit.
Then I chop it out with a chisel. The tool in the foreground is a shop made marking knife.
Here's what it looks like when it's done. These mortises will accept the breadboard ends of the bottom shelf.
I'm getting ready to taper the bottoms of the legs with my shop made jig. I laid out the taper on one leg and set the stops. These stops will position the other legs so all the tapers will be identical.
I've lined them up to make sure I tapered the proper faces. Another operation is complete.
This dry fit is so I can get the exact measurements for the shelf. The tapered legs really changed the look of the piece.
The shelf is complete and fits OK.
I'm now routing the stopped chamfers on the legs.
I'm leaving the area where the aprons meet the legs square. It's a subtle touch, but I think it adds a lot to the look of the piece.
Now I feel like I'm finally nearing completion. This is the real glueup. The drawer front isn't attached to anything - I just put it there to get an idea of how it's going to look.
Here they are, assembled and ready to finish. The tops aren't attached yet, but just about everything else is done.
Here's a shot of the dovetailed drawer box with its applied front. You can also see the top's edge detail.
Here they are after the first application of finish. I'm using my favorite wipe-on finish, a mixture of gloss poly, boiled linseed oil & thinner. I like it because it pops the grain, gives pretty good protection, is repairable and it's easy to apply. The biggest drawback is that I'll be doing this once or twice a day for about a week.
All done, except for the final rubout with 0000 steel wool and wax. I'll have to wait at least a week, probably longer, before I can "finish the finish". The drawers have a 1/16" chamfer & sit about 3/64" proud of the aprons. I think this dresses up an otherwise plain looking front.