Midnight Woodworking


Mini church furniture – Altar

The second big piece in this set is the altar. I started by planing down a couple of boards to 3/8″ thick, then glued them up to be the top panel.

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Then it was back to the scrap pile to find some off-cuts of the correct size.

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Since the whole thing is only 12″ tall, the legs don’t have to be too massive. I used some 1″ thick oak for the legs and some 7/8″ thick pieces for the cross bars.

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I want the altar to look nice, but it just is not worth all the effort to cut mortise and tenon joints for every connection. Unfortunately, just using butt joints would leave the altar rather weak. It has to stand up to kids who will probably climb on it…

I am going to use a new tool that I just purchased. My new Festool Domino.

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It uses a sharp, spiral cutter to create mortises in the wood.

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Then I install a piece of wood, that looks a bit like a domino, to create a tenon.

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I simply line up, and mark all of my mortise locations, then cut them all in minutes.

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Instant mortise and tenon joinery.

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After cutting out all the mortises, I did a dry-fit, then glued everything up.

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I clamped up the sides first, making sure everything was straight and square, then installed the short cross bars, and clamped the front to the back.

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Next, I pulled the top panel from the clamps, and planed down the glue joint.

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With a little glue and some clamps, I attached the top panel to the top of the base.

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I cut a small panel of 1/4″ thick oak for the front panel. I applied glue and pinned it in place to dry.

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I want to tie all of the pieces together with a small cross, so I dug into my scrap pile for some scraps of cherry, that were left over from the Papal Chair build. I had an 1/8″ thick piece that would work perfectly. I cut it into four parts and used pieces of double-sided tape to hold them lined up together, then I laid out the cross on the top one.

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A few quick cuts on the bandsaw and some sanding and I had four identical crosses.

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With a little glue, I stuck two of them to the pieces of furniture, that I had already made.

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I also had some time yesterday to get the first coat of polyurethane onto the completed pieces so far. Just a couple more pieces to go…


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