The Woodwright's Apprentice: 20 Twenty Favorite Projects from the Wodwright's Shop By Roy Underhill
The sloping top of this desk attaches to the horizontal top with butt hinges. When two equally thick boards meet at an angle, you must either split that angle evenly between them, as we do in a miter joint, or plane off the protruding corner of the board with the greater bevel. You can divide any angle equally by bisecting it with a compass and then setting a bevel to the resultant angle to use as a guide in planing. Trace the angle onto a flat surface, then pace out random but equidistant points from the center with your dividers. Using these points as anchors, spread the legs of the compass wider and trace the intersection of two equal arcs. A line from this intersection to the intersection of the angle bisects it perfectly. Set your bevel and plane both boards accordingly.
Butt hinges are the sort that you see on doors every day. They fit in the gap between te boards rather than lying on the surface. Only the barrel 54 STANDING DESK of the butt hinge shows on the surface when the lid is closed. In order to let the two boards sit as close as possible to one another, butt hinges are almost always inset into the surfaces to which they attach. (Hence, the short broad chisels designed for insetting door-sized hinges are called butt chisels.)
Set the hinges on one board, equally spaced, so that the center of the hinge pin is in line with the edge of the board. Mark around the hinge, then make shallow little chopping serrations across the grain down the length of this space. Pare out the waste, insert the hinge, and screw it into place. Now bring the other board up to this one in place, mark the outline where it matches, and repeat the process.
Your final task is nailing the upper, horizontal board of the desktop to the sides of the desk frame. Nails are quite common in such applications in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century work, so don't fall for the "they didn't have nails back then" myth. Until about 1800, nails were handforged individually. The equivalent of a finish nail was made by squashing the head into sort of a T shape. This was driven in the wood with the head of the T fitting into, not across, the grain. After 1800, cut nails sliced from a sheet of iron became practical and proved much cheaper than handwrought nails. These cut nails have a constant taper on only two faces and must be driven in with the tapered sides pushing along the grain, not across it. You can find old nails or buy replicas, or you can make your own by squashing the heads of wire nails so they fit down into the grain. In any case, the accurate historical look for nails is a T-head with just the top of the T showing, not a sunken round hole with a modern finish nail down in it.
"The Woodwright's Apprentice: 20 Twenty Favorite Projects from the Wodwright's "
© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press