Rob Stoakley continues with his coffee table project
With all the joinery cut, tweaked and fitted (and there will always be a little bit of tweaking and fettling here and there), the project is now starting to come together. It’s fairly clear that there’s an end point in view, so it’s time to start cleaning up and polishing. But before that, all the joints need to be re-numbered.

Numbering in sequence
Numbering in sequence

All the lovely big, black scribblings in chinagraph pencil need to be removed and replaced with something a little more subtle and slightly less obtrusive. The way I’ve always done this is to set out the job on the assembly table, with all the bits separated. I then go round each joint and mark them in Roman numerals with a 3mm chisel and a light brass maul on some area of the joint that’s going to be hidden.

Marking a joint
Marking a joint

This means that the numbering is almost impossible to remove during the subsequent cleaning up, but also means that you have to be dead certain about where you incise the numbers as mistakes are difficult to rectify afterwards!

I could have done the same job with a pencil or biro, but there’s always the danger that the new marks will be obliterated and, once that happens (as it has done in the past), you’re between a “rock and the hardest of places” as you don’t know which bit fits where. You’ve then got to try and guesstimate where they go and the chances are fair to middling that you’ll get it completely wrong.

Number nine
Number nine

The system is almost totally infallible and works 99.9% of the time. The odd 0.1% happened when I was making a complicated little chest of drawers some years ago and decided to be really smart, very sophisticated and number the drawers on the underside, so that I knew which drawer fitted which opening.

Except that I completely forgot, in my unbridled enthusiasm, that the number ‘9’ in Roman numerals is ‘IX’ and not ‘VIIII’. Once those numbers are banged in, they’re not going anywhere!

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