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Home - Carpentry - Woodworking - Wood Turning - Wood Handwork - Making Furniture

Framed Structures








The principle of the framed structure is similar to that of the panel construction in that the object is to allow for shrinkage without harm to construction and also to economize materials. Common examples are tables, chairs, work-benches, and frame houses.


The Making of a Table. The standard height of a table is 30". There should be 25" clearance under the rails. This leaves approximately 4" for the width of the rails. Assuming that the table is to be of a simple straight line type with one drawer, the following method of procedure is suggested:


Cut the boards for the top to the approximate length and stick, and clamp them, so as to season them as well as possible before jointing.


Dress to size the legs and rails. Stand the legs in their proper positions relative to each other, and mark them F R (front right), F L (front left), B R (back right), and B L (back left). Plow out the grooves on the inside of the rails for the fastenings of the top, Fig. 297, D, if they are to be used. Lay out and cut the tenons and mortises for the end rails and back rail.


The proper form of the tenon is one with a wide shoulder above it so that the top of the leg above the mortise will not shear out. The rails should be set near the outside of the leg so that the tenon may be as long as possible and the portion of the leg inside it as strong as possible. A haunched mortise-and-tenon joint, Fig. 267, is sometimes used, giving additional lateral stiffness to the rail. The proper proportions are shown in Fig. 291. When cut, these parts should be temporarily assembled to see if they fit.


Fig. 291. A. Cross-Section Thru Back Left Leg and Adjoining Rails of Table. (Plan). B. Elevation, Showing Wide Shoulder on Tenon of Rail.



Fig. 291. A. Cross-Section Thru Back Left Leg and Adjoining Rails of Table. (Plan).

B. Elevation, Showing Wide Shoulder on Tenon of Rail.

Inasmuch as a drawer takes the place of a front rail, the front legs must be tied together in some other way. For this purpose two stringers or drawer rails may be used, their front edges being as far from the face of the legs as are the rails from the side and back. The upper drawer rail may be dovetailed at both ends into the tops of the legs, as shown in Fig. 292. If this takes more room than can well be spared from the depth of the drawer, it may be omitted, but it adds greatly to the stiffness of the table and is an excellent means of fastening on the top by the use of screws passing thru it.


Fig. 292. Table Construction: Upper Drawer Rail of Table Dovetailed into Left Front Leg.



Fig. 292. Table Construction: Upper Drawer Rail of Table Dovetailed into Left Front Leg.

The drawer rail, also called the fore edge, is long enough to partly overlap the side rails, into the lower edges of which it is gained so as to be flush with them, and may be fastened to them with screws, Fig. 293. The construction may be further strengthened by also doweling the end of this stretcher into the legs. If there are two drawers, the partition between them may be doweled or gained into these upper and lower stretchers.


Fig. 293. The Fixing of a Drawer Rail, Seen From Below.



Fig. 293. The Fixing of a Drawer Rail, Seen From Below.

If the legs are to be tapered or otherwise shaped, that should be done next. Then glue and assemble the end rails with their proper legs, taking care to see not only that the joints come up square, but that the legs are in the same plane. Finally assemble the whole, inserting, if necessary, a temporary diagonal brace to insure squareness, Fig. 294. When dry, clean up the joints. For the making of a table drawer, see above.


Fig. 294. Brace to Insure Right Angles in Assembling a Framed structure.



Fig. 294. Brace to Insure Right Angles in Assembling a Framed structure.

To fit the drawer to its place, runners and guides, Fig. 295, must first be fastened in. The runners are in line with the drawer rail, and are glued and nailed or screwed to the side rails between the back of the lower stringer and the back posts. On top of them and in line with the inner face of the legs are the guides running between the front and back posts. Or the runner and guide may be made of one piece properly rabbeted out.


Fig. 295. Drawer Mechanism.



Fig. 295. Drawer Mechanism.

If there are two drawers, a double runner lies between, and is gained into the middles of the back rail and the stringer, and on it is a guide for both drawers, equal in width to the partition between the drawers. The drawers should run easily in their proper places. In order to insure this, the drawer should be slightly narrower than the opening which receives it. A little French chalk, rubbed on the sides and runners, makes the running smoother. Sometimes the opening for a drawer is cut out of the front rail, as in Fig. 296. In this case the drawer runners are supported between the front and back rails, into which they may be gained.


Fig. 296. Opening for Drawer Cut Out of Front Rail of Table.



Fig. 296. Opening for Drawer Cut Out of Front Rail of Table.

For the making of the table top see edge-to-edge joint. Dress up the top to size, taking special pains with the upper surface. If the grain is crossed, use the veneer-scraper, Fig. 151, then sand, first with No. 1, then with No. 00 sandpaper, finish the edges carefully, and attach to the frame.


For fastening the top to the table rails, several methods are used. The top may be screwed to the rails by the screws passing thru the rails themselves either straight up, Fig. 297, A, or diagonally from the inside, B, or thru blocks or angle irons, C, which are screwed to the inside of the rails, or thru buttons, or panel irons, D, which are free to move in a groove cut near the top of the rail. The last method is the best because it allows for the inevitable shrinkage and swelling of the top.


Fig. 297. Methods of attaching Table Top to Rails.



Fig. 297. Methods of attaching Table Top to Rails.

Chairs may be so simplified in form as to be possible for the amateur to construct. The two front legs and the rail and stretcher between them offer little difficulty because the angles are square.


The two back legs, may, for the purpose of simplification, be kept parallel to each other and at right angles to the seat rails between them, as in Fig. 298, A, and not at an angle as in B. The joining of the back will then offer little difficulty. The principal difficulties lie in the facts that for comfort and appearance the back of the chair should incline backward both above and below the seat, and that the back of the seat should be narrower than the front. By keeping at right angles to the floor the part of the back legs which receives the seat rail, the side seat rails will meet the back legs at a right angle in a side view, Fig. 298. The back legs should be slightly shorter than the front legs, as shown in D.


Fig. 298. Chair Construction.



Fig. 298. Chair Construction.

The second difficulty involves the making of inclined mortise-and-tenon joints, A, where the side rails fit into the legs. The making of these can be facilitated by laying out a plan of the full size and taking the desired angles directly from that. It is common to reinforce these joints with corner blocks glued and screwed in place as shown in A. If there are additional rails below the seat rails, the easiest way to fit them in place is first to fit and clamp together the chair with the seat rails only, taking pains to have all angles perfectly true, and then to take the exact measurements for the lower rails directly from the chair. The same method may be used for laying out a stringer between the lower rails.


If it is desired to bow the rails of the back, which are above the seat rail, this can be done by boiling them in water for 30 minutes and then clamping them over a form of the proper shape, with a piece of stiff sheet iron on the outside, as in Fig. 299. They should be thoroly dried in a warm place. Then the tenons may be laid out on the ends parallel to a straight-edge laid along the concave side. The chair bottom may be made of solid wood, either flat or modeled into a "saddle seat;" it may be covered with cane or rush, or it may be upholstered.


Fig. 299. Bending Boards into Shape after Boiling Them.



Fig. 299. Bending Boards into Shape after Boiling Them.

To upholster a chair seat, a frame should first be made of the shape shown in Fig. 298, C. The strips are about 2" wide and ½" thick with their ends half-lapped. The seat rails are rabbeted ½" deep and ½" wide to receive this frame, which should be ⅛" smaller all around than the place to receive it. The returns at the corners fit around the legs at ⅛" distance from them. This ⅛" provides space for the coverings. After the frame is fitted, it is covered with 3" webbing tacked firmly to the upper side. The webbing which goes back and forth is interwoven with that which goes from right to left. Over this is stretched and tacked (also to the upper side) a piece of unbleached muslin. A second piece of muslin is tacked to the back edge and part way along the side edges, leaving for the time the corners unfinished. In the pocket thus formed horsehair or other stuffing is pushed, care being taken to distribute it evenly and not too thick. When the pocket is filled, the muslin is tacked farther along the sides and more hair put in, until the front is reached, when the muslin is tacked to the front edge. The corners are now drawn in tight, a careful snip with the scissors parting them diagonally so as to lie in well. The partings may be turned down and tacked on the under side of the frame.


Finally the leather or other covering is stretched over the whole as evenly as possible. The corners should be left to the last, then clipped diagonally to the exact inside corner and the partings drawn down and tacked, as was the muslin. The superfluous leather may then be trimmed off, and the seat should fit in its place. Or the seat frame may be omitted, and the coverings tacked directly to the chair rails.


Fig. 300. House Construction.



Fig. 300. House Construction.

The balloon-frame house is a typical form of framed construction, Fig. 300. The essential parts of a balloon-frame are:



  • 1. SILL, 4" × 8", which rests on the foundation.

  • 2. BEAMS, 4" × 8", which rest on the cellar posts, 6"×6". (Not shown in illustration.)

  • 3. FLOOR JOISTS, 2" × 8", which rest on the sill and beams.

  • 4. CORNER POSTS, 4" × 6", with 2"×4" studs nailed to them.

  • 5. STUDDING, 2" × 4", which stand 16" between centers.

  • 6. WALL RIBBON, or girt, 1" × 8", which supports the upper story joists.

  • 7. PLATES, two 2" × 4" nailed together, resting on studs.

  • 8. RAFTERS, 2" × 6", which support the roof.

  • 9. TIE-BEAMS, 2" × 6", which prevent the roof from spreading the walls. (Not shown in illustration.)

  • 10. RIDGE-POLE, 2" × 8", against which the rafters butt.

  • 11. BRIDGING, 2" × 2", which stiffens the floor joists.

  • 12. SHEATHING, (1" thick), put on diagonally to brace the building. The rest is covering.

  • 13. FLOORING, (See also Fig. 301.)

    • In flooring, Fig. 301, the boards are made narrow so as to reduce the size of openings at the joints when they shrink, and also to reduce the tendency to warp. They may be laid side by side as in the cheapest floors, or matched to close the joint. For difference between slash- and comb-grain flooring.



  • 14. BUILDING PAPER.

  • 15. SIDING OR CLAPBOARDS, (See Fig. 301.) may either overlap without a joint or be rabbeted to fit. The best siding is rabbeted.

  • 16. WATER-TABLE.

  • 17. CORNER-BOARD.

  • 18. FURRING.

  • 19. SHINGLES.

  • 20. LATHING.

  • 21. CEILING, Fig. 301, consists of matched boards having a "bead" to disguise the joint and give a decorative effect.


Fig. 301. Siding, Ceiling, Flooring.



Fig. 301. Siding, Ceiling, Flooring.






Next: Principles Of Joinery

Previous: Panel Structures



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