Milling the Stretchers and Shelf
The bedside table features a handy low shelf, great for holding books, magazines, tissues and so forth. (I adapted the design from the shelf on a writing desk the Greene brothers created for the William T. Bolton house in Pasadena, California.) Stretcher rails support the shelf at the sides and back edge via a tongue-and-groove joint. The joint provides a solid connection in the 3/4″-thick stock. Plow a 3/8″- wide, 3/8″-deep groove on the inside face of each rail, 5/8″ up from the bottom edge. Make the groove just a hair wider and deeper than 3/8″ x 3/8″ to allow the shelf’s tongue to slide into it easily. Round over all long edges of these rails with the 1/8″ roundover bit.
Now glue up 4/4 stock wide enough to cut out the shelf, noting that the shelf’s grain runs side-toside on the table. Plane the shelf down to 3/4″ thickness, then trim it to its 11-3⁄4″ wide, 14-1⁄2″ final dimension. Use a rabbeting bit in a router (or a dado blade in the table saw) to cut a 3/8″-wide, 3/8″-deep rabbet on the underside of the shelf, creating a tongue on three edges of the shelf (all but the front edge).
The next task is to cut a notch on both front corners of the shelf, which will capture the shelf’s front edge between the front legs when the table is assembled. With a band saw or jigsaw, cut the 1-1⁄8″ x 3/4″ notches as shown in the Drawings. Keep your cuts clean and square, as the notches will show.
The shelf’s front edge is cut with a variation of the cloud lift shape so that it harmonizes with the aprons and lends the table more visual interest. Mark the shelf with the lift design, and cut it out using a band saw or jigsaw. Smooth and round over this edge, as you did on the lower edges of the aprons.
One more chore needs to be done that allows the shelf to fit properly into the assembled legs and stretcher rails: Using a razor saw and a chisel, cut and chop out the stepped notch located in the front-inside-facing edges of both rear legs.
Doweling the Joints
Now it’s time to drill holes for the 5/16″-diameter dowels that join the legs to the aprons and stretcher rails. I was fortunate enough to have Triton’s new Double Doweller on hand, so I used it to bore all the joinery holes. The machine resembles a biscuit joiner and simultaneously bores two holes 1-1⁄4″ apart). However, a standard doweling jig will work just fine, or you can use biscuits or loose splines to join the parts. (If you decide to use mortise-and-tenon joinery, make sure to add the necessary length to the apron and stretcher members before cutting them out.)
Start the doweling process by marking each apron with its position (left, right, front, back) relative to the legs. Now mark the dowel hole locations on both the aprons and corresponding legs. Space the holes evenly for four 5/16″-diameter, 1-1⁄4″-long dowels that make up each apron-to-leg joint. Set up the Double Doweller or doweling jig to center the holes on the thickness of the stock, then drill all holes just a hair deeper than 5/8″. Reset the Doweller or jig to center the holes in the legs and drill these holes.
Use 2″-long, 5/16″-diameter dowels to join the stretcher rails to the legs: Drill two 1-1⁄16″-deep holes into the end of each rail and corresponding holes in the legs. Center the holes relative to the thickness of both the rails and legs, and locate them so the bottom edge of each rail ends up 5-1⁄2″ from the bottom end of the legs.