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Settle Routing Project

Settle Routing Project
  A two seater settle with built-in storage made in Iroko, a relatively cheap hardwood.

The commission for this rather nice settle came from a regular customer, though with the credit crunch obviously biting there was a distinctly limited budget this time. The initial request was for a cheap but dark timber, but as these two are usually mutually exclusive I was struggling to decide what to make it from. In the end I settled on Iroko which is a relatively cheap hardwood, although not to everyone´s taste to work as the dust can be quite irritating. It would not be my first timber of choice either, but needs must, and it does quite soon darken down from the freshly machined yellow colour to a rich honey brown with some attractive figuring.

This is definitely one to machine wearing full protective gear against the dust, ideally in the form of an air fed helmet.
     
RELATED KNOWLEDGE
Iroko
Iroko
 
Material Choice and Preparation
  1. First step is to create the full sized pattern for the two shaped end pieces. This will also form the template for use with the router later. I made it from a piece of hardboard although thin MDF or ply is a good alternative.
Material Choice and Preparation
  2. Cut out the pattern using a jig saw. I always find that if you work quite quickly and confidently when cutting thin material you end up with nice flowing curves and although you may wander from the line slightly it doesn´t really matter at this stage.
Material Choice and Preparation
  3. Use abrasive wrapped around a sanding block to smooth the profile as any irregularities in the template will be reproduced later in the solid timber.
Material Choice and Preparation
  4. The settle ends are joined up from three separate pieces so start by trimming the board ends back to clean material and then cut them to length so that the waste in the shaped areas is minimized.
     

Cutting

Cutting
  5. Try and use material from the same board for each end so that the finished colour is consistent and keep the grain orientation the same to make cleaning up easier.
Cutting
  6. The rough sawn boards will need some careful preparation so start by flatting one surface and squaring one edge on the planer.


Cutting
  7. Take care with the grain orientation when planing and thicknessing as Iroko is very prone to tearing if you work against the grain. If the grain is really interlocked you may struggle planing in either direction, but the finish is usually better from the thicknesser.
Cutting
  8. Lay the boards out for best match and mark the position of the jointing biscuits, three biscuits slots should be sufficient on the longer boards, two for the shorter ones. Make sure they are not where you could cut into them later when you do the shaping.
     

Initial Routing, Glueing and Clamping

Initial Routing, Glueing and Clamping
  9. To cut the biscuit slots I use a grooving cutter in the router with a bearing to control the depth and a fine adjuster on the router in place of the depth stop to make sure the cuts match up perfectly.
Initial Routing, Glueing and Clamping
  10. Cut the slots slightly over length to allow for positioning during assembly. If you work from the face side on each board, then you don´t have to worry too much about centreing the slot.
Initial Routing, Glueing and Clamping
  11. Apply plenty of glue to each edge and work it well in to the biscuit slots.
Initial Routing, Glueing and Clamping
  12. You will need sash cramps to pull the joints up tight. I lay them across some offcuts of hardboard to stop the metal of the cramp bar marking the timber if it comes into contact with the glue.


Initial Routing, Glueing and Clamping
  13. Once the glue has set plane off any excess squeeze-out to leave the surface flat that again.
     

Additional Cutting

Additional Cutting
  14. Lay the template back in place and carefully draw around the outline with a pencil.


Additional Cutting
  15. Use the jigsaw again to cut out the shape but this time cut 2 or 3mm clear on the waste side of the line.
Additional Cutting
  16. Stick the template back in position using a few lengths of double sided tape. Press it down hard to make sure the two are firmly stuck together.


Additional Cutting
  17. Using a bearing guided cutter in the router you can trim back the excess material to match perfectly with the template. Now you can see why it is so important to get the template perfectly smooth.


     

Table Routing

Table Routing
  18. To making the panelled front and back I use a panel door set with a large fielding cutter, but you will need a 1/2 inch router mounted under a table to use these cutters safely.
Table Routing
  19. Machine out all the pieces for the rails and stiles and trim them accurately to length, allowing extra for the length of the tenon on the stiles.


Table Routing
  20. Cut the scribe on each stile end first using the router mounted in the table and guiding the timber past the cutter using the mitre guide fitted with a piece of scrap to minimize breakout on the rear of the cut.
Table Routing
  21. I always make a couple of passes across the cutter for each end to make sure the scribe has been cut to full depth right the way across. Unless you clamp the work when using the mitre guide there is always a tendency for it to creep sideways slightly as you make the cut.
Table Routing
  22. With this particular router set you simply rearrange the cutters on the arbor to produce the matching profile cut. Very thin shims allow for precise positioning.
     

Table Routing continued

Table Routing continued
  23. It is always worth cutting a little spare material in the initial stages, as you will need to make some trial cuts to get the profile depth spot on so that it lines up perfectly with the scribe.
Table Routing continued
  24. Make a trial assembly of each frame to make sure the finished dimensions are correct and the joints pull up tight.
Table Routing continued
  25. Provided the cutters are kept really sharp the finished scribe and profile joint is extremely neat, yet so easy to cut.
Table Routing continued
  26. The material for the central panels has to be biscuit jointed and glued up in a similar way to the end pieces, so once again try and match the grain as closely as possible as they are going to be highly visible.


Table Routing continued
  27. Once the glue has set give the panels a thorough sanding on both sides as you need the face to run smoothly on the router table for the next operation.
     

More Routing with the Table

More Routing with the Table
  28. Fielding the panel is another job for a big router in the router table, but as you are removing a lot of material make two or three passes rather than trying to shape it in one go and use a dust extractor to minimise the mess! Note that I have temporarily removed the guard for this shot.
More Routing with the Table
  29. Most of the fielding cutters are designed for use on relatively thin timber, but I wanted heavy looking panels and machining these down to leave a tongue of the correct thickness to fit in the groove left a rather large quirk on the top.
More Routing with the Table
  30. This was improved dramatically by running another pass with a small panel moulding cutter.
More Routing with the Table
  31. The end frames can now be assembled round the panels, but keep checking that everything remains square as you cramp up.
More Routing with the Table
  32. As it will not show in the finished settle, the bottom panel is just a piece of 6mm MDF to minimize the costs.
     

Assembly of Settle

Assembly of Settle
  33. At this stage, fortunately just before the final assembly, I realized I had forgotten to cut the foot shaping on the bottom of the two end pieces so quickly corrected this with the jig saw.
Assembly of Settle
  34. To soften the top square edge I ran a small beading cutter along the inside edge, but on reflection this would perhaps have been better with a bigger diameter version.
Assembly of Settle
  35. The front and back panels are jointed to the ends using a Mafell duo doweller which simultaneously drills two dowels at a time, though you could also fix it with biscuits or loose tongues.
Assembly of Settle
  36. After some careful setting out I used a total of six dowels on the long edges and four on the shorter ones to produce a very firm fixing.


Assembly of Settle
  37. The duo doweller was also used to make up the frame for the seat although this time I just used a single dowel in each joint.


     

Finishing Touches and Presentation

Finishing Touches and Presentation
  38. The end pieces can now be finished sanded and I then softened the corners with a small radius cutter.


Finishing Touches and Presentation
  39. The assembly is very straightforward using PVA glue, but use a damp cloth to remove any squeeze-out from the joints; it is much easier than trying to clean it out from the corners later when it is dry.
Finishing Touches and Presentation
  40. The supports for the base are just glued and pinned in place, then again to keep the costs down I then just dropped in a piece of 16mm MDF as the actual base.
Finishing Touches and Presentation
  41. Cut the lid to size allowing a couple of mm clearance at either end and fix it in place with standard 75mm butt hinges.


Finishing Touches and Presentation
  42. The finished settle ready for polishing.
My preference for finish on pieces of furniture like this is to brush on three coats of pre-cat satin cellulose lacquer, flatting down between coats with 400 grit abrasive and then finally waxing, applying the wax with some fine steel wool. Allow it to harden for an hour or so and then buff with a polishing mop on the sander.

Material used
1.4 cu ft 1 Iroko
1.16 cu ft 1 Iroko
1 Piece 16mm mdf for base
1 Piece 6mm mdf for lower back panel.

Approx cost £90.00

Time taken 16 hrs


     
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