My second commission – part 5


These Witpeer (Apodytes dimidiata) boards had a good 5 weeks to settle after all that hand milling we (yes “we”, we are a team now, I do the work and you get to read about it in the comfort of your own shop/home) did in the first part of April. They were clamped to each other to prevent even a thought of warping. It has therefore become time to glue them together to produce the first of three layers of timber that will ultimately become the trapezoid leg of this table.

In the photos below you can hopefully see my usual artwork on the face side. The boards were arranged with much deliberation on where the cracks and interesting areas of colour change should endup. Once that is done I usually draw a so-called carpenter’s triangle (sometimes referred to as a cabinetmaker’s triangle) across all of the boards to ensure that I can easily get them back in this order after planing individual edges.


I then marked out the location of the dominos I use to line the edges up during glue-up. Dominos are similar to biscuits, just better (as you would expect from Festool). I use the mark illustrated below to indicate where the slots for each domino should go. The ring around the end of the line is there to help distinguish these marks from others. I have found in the past that one can get confused with the lines of the carpenters triangle once the boards gets mixed up.


Here I am preparing the glue surfaces of the edges that go together. The idea is that you fold each board (on either side of the joint) down and away from you, much like you would do with a book were the cover is facing you and you close the book. Then you clamp them together with the two edges flush at the top. This way your error (if you go ever so slightly out of square) would cancel out for a perfectly flat joint once planed. You also want to create a very slight hollow in the length of these edges, which will result in a so-called spring joint. In other words, during assembly the ends of the joint will meet first and very gentle pressure from your clamps will close up the minute gap in the centre of the joint.


As a wannabe exclusive hand tool woodworker (AKA a hybrid woodworker) I have to admit that one power tool I really do enjoy using is my Domino. Why? I am not sure. It might be because it is relatively quiet, fairly accurate and very easy to use. Here I am preparing the small (3 mm) slots for the three dominos I decided on for each of these joints. I prepared only three edges and then glued them up one at a time. PVA glue sets so quickly in our dry environment that I simply cannot risk doing more than one at a time.


The next day the edges of those glued up panels were prepared and glued to each other.



The day after that the two bigger panels were then prepared and glued. As you can see it necessitated a different strategy to clamp in my bench(for edge preparation), but the bench came to the party.


I honestly cannot remember what one calls this thing that I made to stop the leg vise from twisting (when you clamp on only one side of it), but it works like a charm in situations like this.


For the final glue-up I had to first cut 1″ galvanised pipe to appropriate lengths as all my other clamps were too short. Luckily there were a few left in the stash that came from my father’s shop.


Didi assisted me to make sure this joint ends up flat as (this is a Kiwi expression for those of you who thinks that it is just poor grammer).



Once the whole panel was glued-up, I used a Festool TS55 track saw to cut out the trapezoid shape.


For the angle of the sides of the trapezoid shape my Stanley no. 18 bevel was simply set to that of the prototype/mockup pictured below.


The panel was then clamped to straight Kershout (Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus) beams to keep it honest, while I mill and shape the timber for the next layer.


The second layer will consist of three strips (top, middle and bottom) of Tasmanian Blackwood that will run at 90º to the grain of the first layer. This second layer will ensure that the trapezoid leg cannot cup or bow over the years. It will also be completely invisible once the third layer is installed. The unmilled Tasmanian Blackwood is on the left of the picture leaning against the wall. The third layer will be milled from the Witpeer board to the right of it, lying on the sawhorses.


The reason why I chose the slightly softer Tasmanian Blackwood for this layer is because it will take a nail better than Witpeer. I plan to nail the third layer to TB layer using brad/finishing nails. You will have to wait a while to see exactly what I mean. Anyway, the Tasmanian Blackwood will be unsighted so it does not matter that it is a different species.


The two TB boards were ripped on the bandsaw and then received a light planing before being clamped to settle over the next week or so.


The Witpeer board was ripped using the track saw and stored to acclimatise to the shop’s ambient humidity.


Hopefully we will be able to deal with the next two layers in part 6. I would love to get that done by the end of June, but if not that is fine too.

5 thoughts on “My second commission – part 5”

  1. Thanks for the joyride, can’t wait for the next installment!
    Two things:
    I need such a Festool!
    I need your space! Whew!
    The Witpeer that you have is definitely not the Witpeer of my little sample block that I got from Rarewoods. I changed mine to Assegai.
    Cape Town

    1. Frank you are always welcome to come and play with me in my shop when you next visit Namibia. To enjoy the space you know.
      I don’t know if you saw a response I wrote some time ago on this difference between Assegaai and Witpeer. Here it is again:
      Usually Assegaai and Witpeer look quite different from each other in my experience. Witpeer has a cream to brown colour spectrum whereas Assegaai is a lot more orange with reddish brown streaks. Having said that, I have found a few boards in my collection over the past few years that I initially though was the one and it turned out to be the other. The shape and appearance of the darker streaks in both of these woods can sometimes look very similar, but once you plane it to expose the clean wood, the colour usually tells you which one of the two you are dealing with.
      Hope that helps.

  2. This looks very cool. I can’t wait to see where you go with the project.

    Jonathan (who’s wishing he could go hang out with Gerhard and Frank in Windhoek)

    1. Yes Jonathan, I very much wish for the same thing. However, I do not doubt that we will make it happen one day. I am also planning to visit Washington State one day and hopefully stop over at Bob’s place on my way.
      That is if you will have me/us.
      Cheers my friend.

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