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Mission Style Hall Tree

Text, photos and design by Tom Hintz

(Top) My version of the hall tree.
(Bottom) My new Delta mortising machine made setting the rails back, just the amount I wanted, very easy.
Click images to enlarge.

   This project was inspired by a similar hall tree I saw Norm Abram (New Yankee Workshop) build a few years ago. His had inlaid tiles, a pair of umbrella holders and some fretwork to dress it up. I was not getting the warm fuzzies about the tiles, nor the fretwork, and the wife said she would not need umbrella holders. Of course, after she said that it rained every day for over a week. Despite the deluge, I forged on; sans the umbrella holders and the above mentioned embellishments. I did add the curved rails per instructions from my wife who likes the mission style.

   Norm's hall tree was probably made from unobtanium-grade walnut or something similarly exotic. Mine is Southern yellow pine. Sorry.

   Before this project, I did not own a mortising machine. I cut mortises on the router table, and then usually fudged heavily on the tenons to make everything fit. In rare instances, things actually lined up as anticipated. However, this piece has 24 mortise and tenon joints, all of which had to be very close; preferably right.

   I had watched (coveted would be more accurate) the mortising machine Norm uses on TV and figured now was a good time to step up. Though many people can produce accurate mortises on the router table, I apparently am not one of them. I like to have the layout facing up where I can see it, and the cutting tool doing its work in plain view. On the router table, everything happens out of sight and that seems to stir my insecurities. After a ride to the local woodworking store I had a shiny new Delta mortising machine in my shop.

   I was able to repair the slightly out-of-place mortises I had already made on the router table and cut the rest with the new mortising machine. Not surprisingly, the parts I did with the new machine went together flawlessly, the "repaired" mortises required a bit of persuasion.

    I suppose the drawer on the hall tree need not be fancy but not long ago I bought a good dovetail jig so I regularly show off by cutting half-blind dovetail joints on all four corners of most of my drawers.

   After sending the hall tree through my finishing department, (the wife) I added the hardware and mirror (with mirror adhesive) and my version of the hall tree was complete.

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