New Coffee Table Nearing Completion

June 7, 2004

Since we got our new furniture, including home made TV stand, our glass-and-metal coffee table is sticking out like a sore thumb. It's cold, heavy, and hard -- especially when you hit your shin on it late at night with the lights off. Also, there's no place to put the TV remote, computer keyboard, or mouse when they're not being used.

Enter the woodshop.

Saturday morning brought Arti and I to a post-Peete's excursion to <a href=>Southern Lumber</a>. I had drawn up a plan the night before for a new table to fit our needs.

One of the great thing about working with wood is that an idea doesn't need to be drawn out with exact measurements or detail. It's totally possible to build a piece of furniture that fits together tightly, but was designed and built without doing any measurements at all! So armed with a general idea of what we wanted to build, we went to get the wood for this project.

We got home from the wood store in mid-morning, and I tore into the boards.

We went through a couple of design iterations, and ended up with a plan that eliminated the need for about $150 worth of wood while making for a more pleasing piece. That excess can now be returned or reused.

I worked until about 4pm Saturday -- we were having a party and expected people to start showing up at 5pm. At that point all of the wood was cut, miters were fine-tuned, and tenons were dadoed. Pretty good progress.

Sunday was an open day. After we had breakfast with Ghizal and Pauly (and removed the badges from the back of his 'bu), it was back to the garage to finish things up.

I started with the assembly of the table top, moved to the tapers on the legs (see previous article), then the leg mortises (note to self: do mortises before tapering!!!). By this time, the glue holding the table top together had dried, so I pulled the clamps off that to assemble the bottom part of the table.

I sanded the top and bottom of the table top smooth, cleaned up a bit, then moved on to sanding the base after the glue had dried.

I then moved on to the inlay on the top of the table. I had cut a rabbit in each table top "wrapper" piece to accept a 1/4" square piece of Bolivian Rosewood. I bought a piece of 6" by 1/4" of this dark wood, and rough-cut some 1/4"+ strips on the table saw. So i cut each strip to length on the miter saw, beveling each edge at 45 degrees. It took some fine tuning with the hand plane (big fun!) and sandpaper to get each piece to the perfect width. I glued those suckers in, waited a bit, then planed and sanded them flush with the top.

So it's almost ready for finishing. I just need to do some final 320 grit sanding and drill some holes in the legs and table top to acomodate a hidden dowel type of attachment system to keep the whole thing together and tight.

Lessons Learned:

  • Miter 1000 SE for tapers
  • mortise before tapering
  • tables work best and are strong and square with two stretchers per side between each pair of legs. assembling this table and getting it vertically square with only one stretcher was a big pain.

It should be finished by the end of this week. We're gonna run some tests with different stains and finishes to see what works best on this hybrid Cherry/Birch/Rosewood piece.