Butternut & Ash Side Table

I recently completed this small side table and it has already become a much-appreciated addition to the home. With a table top about 10″ x 18″, it has proven itself to be compact yet stable, and suitably sized to hold a book, or a dinner plate and drinking glass.

 

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Followers of my blog may recognize the top as a slice from the same piece of ash that was used in the doors of Insanity 2.

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The form took a while to realize, and I had fun mixing straight lines and convex shapes.

The butternut base is joined with bridle and lap joints, and the teardrop ash top is joined with a pair of floating tenons and a little glue.

Elm – Pleasant to Work and Full of Character

The latest addition to my catalog of air-dried slabs for sale is Elm (Ulmus americana)

A medium-density wood with pale sapwood and warm brown heartwood, elm often exhibits a coarser grain pattern.

Most elm trees do not grow very large and consequently it is rare to find elm mature enough to exhibit a substantial amount of darker heartwood. Pockets of in-grown bark is typical of this species, lending to the unique look of elm.

Elm works well, and common uses include furniture, boxes and veneer.

It was milled on one of the hottest days in 2013.

You may remember this table top that I made from one slab three years ago.

A pair of dovetail keys reinforced a separation in the slab, and epoxy was used to fill in voids.

See my catalog of air-dried wood slabs for sale here.

21st Century Writing Desk – Designing the Base

So, with the top done, my next step was to design a suitable base for it. I went to my computer and started playing with designs.

I had an idea for a base that consisted of a pair of rectangular frames and cross members. However, none of the variations that looked good to me.

Slim, tapered legs looked much more fitting.

21st Century Writing Desk10 Because the legs were so thin and delicate, stretchers were added to provide additional strength and stability.
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A rear stretcher provided further resistance to racking and flexing.

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I wasn’t happy with the placement of the rear stretcher in relation to the side stretchers, so I lowered it to the same level. Arranging the stretchers like this presented some challenges with intersecting joinery in the legs, and I wanted to maximize strength while minimizing the size of the components.

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Lowering the rear stretcher another 3/4″ gave the joinery more strength, but it wasn’t enough.

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Positioning the rear stretcher 1-1/4″ below the side stretchers seemed to provide a good balance of aesthetics and strength (room for joinery).

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The last change I made was to reduce the height of the aprons that support the table top, as seen in these last three images.

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I’m happy enough with the design to start building, but there are absolutely no guarantees that the finished table will look like the one in the drawings!  Stay tuned…

21st Century Writing Desk – Making the Top

Last week, I saw a picture of a roof top that resembled a wave.

House with wave roof by Jules Gregory

House with wave roof by Jules Gregory

The roof prompted me to ponder the question: does a tabletop really need to be flat? Running with that notion, I carved this maple sample, dyed it black and waxed it to increase the sheen.

Carved Sample

I was really pleased with the sample, (and so was everyone to whom I showed it) so I decided to use the carved pattern on a table top. I glued together two mahogany boards and began carving texture into the panel using a #7/10 gouge.

Carved Panel1

The surface felt so good under my fingertips.

Carved Panel2

After two-and-a-half hours of carving, I had completed the 12″ x 25″ panel. During that time I did a lot of thinking (and tweeting). I came up with the idea of calling it the 21st Century Writing Desk.

Carved Panel3

So, with the top done, my next step was to design a suitable base for it. I went to my computer and started playing with designs.

Finishing Puzzle Table

After routing the jigsaw puzzle design, I made a base out of four mitred lengths of black walnut to raise the table up off the ground. That way, it didn’t just look like a cube sitting on the ground.

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Then came finishing. Let’s just say that it required some patience to get an even coat of finish on the edges of each of the 169 puzzle pieces.

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After the finish dried, I set it up for some studio photographs. This one shot captured the essence of the table pretty well, I thought.

Jigsaw Puzzle Table1

Find all the details for Jigsaw Puzzle Table on the product page.

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Single-Slab Cherry Coffee Table, Part II

In Part I of this project, I cut mitred returns in the cherry crotch slab and joined the three legs to the table top with Domino floating tenons. I then cut and fit five maple dovetail keys.

Cherry Coffee Table 1

Due to the way that the wood dried, neither the top nor the legs were particularly flat, so I simply used a sander to make them fair and smooth.

Cherry Coffee Table 2This is an excellent example of how my designs are influenced by the materials I use. The overall size of the materials dictate the dimensions of the piece, and the shape of the live edge and grain patterns influence where cuts are made and where dovetail keys can be used in best effect.

Due to the height, this piece works equally well as a coffee table and a bench.

Check the product page for more details on this coffee table/bench.

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Single-Slab Cherry Coffee Table, Part I

This weekend, I am demonstrating Festool power tools at Lee Valley Tools Ltd. in Coquitlam. To generate interest and demonstrate what can be done with the tools, I am turning this seven-foot-long slab of cherry into a coffee table.

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By the end of Thursday, I had made some good progress. To make the legs, I used the TS75 track saw to cut the ends of the slab from table top and bevel the ends at 45 degrees.

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I used the DF700 Domino XL to cut mortises in the bevelled ends of one joint and inserted 14mm Domino tenons to provide strength and alignment.

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On Friday, I cut the joints for the other two legs. I glued them before lunch, then did some careful layout to determine how to cut the legs so the table sat flat. I performed the cuts with the TS75 track saw in a somewhat dramatic fashion.

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After that, I removed the chainsaw marks from the outside surfaces of the legs. I was able to power through this task quickly with 80-grit Rubin 2 abrasive paper on the mighty RO150 Rotex sander.

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At the end of day two, the table stood on its own (and I could stand – and jump – on it).

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So far, this project has been a good test of what the Festool equipment can do and it has attracted a lot of attention from customers, whether they were woodworkers or not. Many wanted to see it finished and asked if the table would be on display upon completion (the answer was, yes).

Tomorrow, I will continue work by surfacing the top. I may also inset some dovetail keys in the top, and perhaps down one leg to visually reinforce the split.

Beware of Step 27

I just completed a new cribbage board, but this one was made much differently from the others. I scaled up the board, and added a base to transform it into a table.

Cribbage Table 1

I had some fun with the base. For the stretcher, I used the bandsaw to cut three slits of graduated lengths in one end of the stretcher to spread it.

Stretcher Spread

Then, I cut corresponding mortises in the legs and drove the joint together. Yes, it was tricky!

Stretcher Fitted

For the cribbage board top, I bored the 3/8″ holes freehand, using a plunge router. The bit grabbed in one hole, causing a large jagged, spiral hole as I tried to recover.

Step 27

After some deliberation, I decided to fill the hole with clear resin and rebore the hole.

Cribbage Table 6

If you’re in playing in the right-hand track, beware of step 27!

Cribbage Table 4

Find more photos and details of this cribbage table on the Beware of Step 27 product page.

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A Topless Table

Last week’s Picture Inspiration proved to be a real challenge. We, at #Woodchat, were looking at a picture of an SR71 stealth plane.

Most of us started by looking at the actual shape of the plane and trying to relate what we saw to lines suitable for a furniture design. When I found that didn’t work, I stopped looking at what I could see and started thinking about what I couldn’t see.

This table design was my artistic representation of what I envisioned turbulence to look like.

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I want to build this design!

Interestingly enough, while the design satisfied the requirement of #Woodchat’s Picture Inspiration, it also reflected on a comment that Brian Bain made on my recent post, What Defines Form:

What about a table without a top?

That seemed a little strange to me. After all, a table needs a top to be functional, right? Maybe not.

Next Picture of Inspiration

This week, the challenge is to come up with a design based on this picture. I think there will be a wide range of designs, as there always is. If you come up with something, send it to me by e-mail, or via Twitter.

Inspiration photo by Andrew Arndts

Inspiration photo by Andrew Arndts

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