Making the Rails and Slats
While the dado blade was on the saw, I used it to cut the exposed tenons on the lower rails and the stub tenons on the upper rails in multiple passes. Again, the consistency of stock thickness and reveals paid off, as the same 1/4″ depth served for the shoulders of all the tenons. I made test cuts in my test pieces and the real cuts in the rails when the fit was accurate.
Now for the slats in the trestles. These would be inset into the groove I made in the legs and rails. I had to tweak things a little — as the board’s 1/2″ was a trifle fatter than the dado blade’s 1/2″ dimension. A quick pass through the planer fixed that in a snap. With the planer set for the right thickness to fit the grooves, I also planed a 24″-long scrap piece of 1/2″ stock from which to make the spacer pieces that would go between the slats. Since the slats were less than 10″ long and 2″ wide, I had plenty of area within my stock from which to select the best grain figure. I chose a piece for the four curved outer slats that had a slope to the figure that complemented the curve. With the selection process done, I cut these and the stiles to 2″ wide. Then I carefully measured the space between the top and bottom rails (8-5⁄8″) and added 1/2″ for the top and bottom grooves (9-1⁄8″ total) and cut them to just a tiny bit shorter than this measurement — I have tried to bang home rails that were just a hair too long for the available space, and I do not want to try that again!
I cut the curves on the outer stiles in two operations, first ripping the bottom to 1-3⁄8″ about 2/3 of the way up on the table saw and then cutting the curve to the full 2″ at the top on the band saw, using the first one as a pattern for the rest. I stopped the curve 1/4″ from the top, leaving the part that would go into the groove straight. This way the visible top of the slat would be full-width and the filler pieces there would not have to be cut to an angle.
When I orignally considered the slats, I thought about the spacing between them and how it impacted the layout of the mortises for the stretchers, which are centered on the two spaces adjacent to the center slat. The 1-1⁄4″ spacing resulted in a pleasing space between the mortises so I cut two spacer pieces to that length, centered the middle slat in the space, fit the filler pieces on either side and made reference marks from the center of each spacer for laying out the stretchers’ mortises. The outer spaces between the slats would need to be wider, because 1/4″ of the outer slats is inset into the leg grooves — an arrangement that I thought would look good.