This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
To begin with a simple example and one where but little finish is necessary, recourse may be had to a kitchen table described by Cabe in Amateur Mechanics. The table and its parts are shown in Figs. 572-584; the top measures 3 ft. 6 in. long by 1 ft. 10 in. wide. For the 4 legs get a piece of clean yellow pine, 30 in. long, 8 in. broad, and 2 in. thick; line it out so that each piece has a taper (Fig. 574); this is called cutting one out of the other. The proper method to line out the wood is : - Draw a line down the middle, which will give 2 halves, each 4 in. broad; from the outer edge of each half, mark 2 1/4 in. at b, and 1 3/4 in. at c; draw lines to these marks 2 in. thick, and saw up; you thus have 4 pieces each tapering from 2 1/4 in. to 1 3/4 in. Plane up the 2 best adjacent faces of each piece, and square them; when planed, mark their faces with pencil. Set marking gauge to bare 2 in., and gauge from the dressed faces for about 6 in. in length, at the broad end or top of each piece. This is the part of the leg that comes opposite the rails, and has no taper. Plane and square the 4 pieces to their gauge marks, and place them together on the bench, even at the bottom.
Mark from the bottom 24 in., which will be 6 in. from the top, and square across, continuing the line round the remaining sides; this is the line the tapering commences from. Set the making gauge to 1 1/2 in., and gauge the bottom end of each piece from the dressed side. Taper from the lines mentioned above, stopping at the gauge marks on the end. The legs will be 2 in. square for 6 in. of their length, and the remainder tapered to 1 1/2 in. square at the bottom.
Plane and square the back rail 35 in. long, 5 in. broad, and 1 in. thick; 2 end rails 19 in. long, 5 in. broad, and 1 in. thick; front rail over the drawer, 35 in. by 2 in. by 3/4 in.; 1 under the drawer, 35 in. by 2 in. by 1 in.; 2 end stretchers, a, Fig. 573, 19 in. by 2 in. by 1 in.; and 2 long ones, 35 in. by 2 in. by 1 in. These pieces prepared, draw in the legs for mortising. Place them on the bench in 2 pairs, each pair having a taper side up, and the remaining taper sides opposite each other, as in Fig. 575, the parallel portions of all 4 lying close, and the bottoms of each pair about 1 in. apart. 2 mortices are made in each leg to receive the 5-in. rail. First draw a line across all 4 at the beginning of the taper a, set a pair of compasses to 1 1/2 in., and mark from a to b; mark 1 in. from b to c, then 1 1/2 in. with the compasses to d. During this operation the legs should be clipped by their ends in a hand screw, to prevent shifting. Draw in the mortices for stretchers, by making the line e 6 in. from the bottom, and f 1 7/8 in. higher up. Set the mortice gauge to £ in. mortice line, and set the head 3/8 in. from the inner spike. Gauge with this all the mortices both for rails and stretchers, from the marked faces of the legs.
Square over 1 pair of the legs for the 5-in. long or back rail, which will be on the remaining taper side, as in Fig. 576, and the other pair square across for a rail beneath the drawer, 1 in. thick, the mortice being 1/16 in. less than the thickness of rail (see Fig. 577). Gauge for mortices as before, from the marked faces, as in the case of Fig. 577 from both faces, as there are 2 mortices in the breadth.
Place the legs for mortising on the bench as in Fig. 575. Mortise for the rails 1 1/2 in. deep, and for the stretchers 1 1/4 in. deep. When mortised clean out, blaze with a 5/16-in. chisel, taking care not to bruise the edge of the mortices, which should be smoothed a little on the sides with a chisel, but not pared wider, or they will be too wide for tenons.
Draw in the rails and stretchers - first of all for the 2 ends, as they are cramped together first. Draw in the two end rails 1G in. long between the shoulders: this will give 2 tenons 1 1/2 in. long. Draw in the back rail and the 2 front rails over and under the drawers, 32 in. long. This " drawing-in " means marking them across with square and cutting knife for shouldering. Place the 2 end rails edge up on the bench, mark off 16 in., and square both across. Then from these lines square and mark both sides of each rail. The cutting knife is best for this marking, making a good deep cut, which serves as a channel or guide for the dovetail saw.
Though the shoulders of the 5-in. rails are square across, it will be evident that the shoulders of the stretchers o, Fig. 573, are bevelled, arising from the taper on the feet or legs, and the stretcher is also somewhat longer than the rail. Now to find this length, and this bevel, proceed as follows: - To find the length, place a pair of the legs together with a hand screw at top, mortices together; at the stretcher mortice they will be apart about 3/4 in., and this is the extra length over the rails. To find the bevel, square across any part of the taper of a leg from the outer face with bench-square and pencil, and with a bevel square or bevel stock set the blade to this line. The stock being on the inner or taper side of leg, the bevel thus found is that for stretcher shoulders, the bevel stock being worked from upper edge of stretcher. The shoulders being marked, shift the head of mortice gauge 1/8 in. nearer the spikes, and gauge rails and stretchers from the outer face. Thus they will be J- in. within the surface of the legs when cramped together.
The rail under the drawer is flush with the legs, and must be gauged same as the mortices, then shifted to fit the second or inner mortice; see Fig. 577. For this reason the rails and legs should be gauged together, as it saves time and shifting of the gauge. The shoulders are cut in with dovetail saw, and the tenons are ripped with a tenon saw. Then the rails have a piece cut out for the bridge in the mortices, and a rebate of 1 in. at the upper edge, which will leave 2 tenons a little over 1 1/2 in. broad. They should be a little less in length than the depth of mortices. The tenoning being finished, the 2 stretchers a, Fig. 573, are mortised for long stretchers 6, Fig. 572. These mortices are shown at a, Fig. 573, where the tenons come through and are wedged. The long stretchers are 6 in. apart, and the mortising is exactly as that for the rail below drawers where let into legs, and also at the division between the drawers. This being done, the insides of the legs are hand-planed and sandpapered, as also the faces of 5-in. rails and stretchers all round.