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Thread: Coffee table design

  1. #1
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    Coffee table design

    I am going to hold off on the Cash register stand until my skills improve. In the meantime, I want to build a coffee table with the walnut I procured a few months back. Here is the very basic design. The table will be 18"x40"x18" hwd. The legs will be 8/4 thick and will be made from two 4/4 pieces laminated together. There will be a 4" skirt around the edge that I will secure to the legs with pocket screws. I will use some scrap wood to create braces in each of the corners. The top will be 4/4 thick. I will use some poplar or other scrap wood for fastening strips on the 18" sides of the table. I will cut .5" slip joints in the screwing strips to allow expansion and contraction. Does anyone see any problems with my plan? Any suggestions for improvement?

    Thanks!!

    Dan
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    Last edited by Dan Mages; 12-31-2004 at 7:31 AM.
    A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish.

  2. #2

    Unhappy

    hmmm.. looks and sounds like it would work. there's nothing wrong with it as far as I can see. Go for it if you love it!!!!

    ...what's with the "crap" wood you speak of???

    ...maybe you should find some wood that you are passionate about so that when you are finished you won't be explaining to people how you built this table out of "crap" wood..

    just a thought
    love makes life happen

  3. #3
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    I am thinking that the top needs to have a little more overhang proportionally than the drawings show. Structurally, no issues, other than the need to consider wood movement. You show "screwing strips" that I presume will be needed to hold the top on the table. Be sure that only the "center" hole is round...any others need to be elongated so that the top can expand across it's width.

    As an alternative to using the pocket screws and corner braces, consider doing M&T for the apron to leg joints as a learning experience. Another option to consider is to put a little taper on the legs to "lighten" them up and make the 4/4 top more comfortable, although that's a slightly different look from what you currently have...it may not match the style you desire. You might also experiment with a slightly narrower apron.

    Do some quick full-sized mock-ups of one corner with a leg, short apron and a top (variations, of course) with the intended overhang by taking scraps and using pocket screws to hold things together. Take a can of cheap flat black spray paint and color your mock-ups so you are only looking at the form, rather than the materials. In this manner you can experiment until you get things the way you want...inexpensively.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
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    Ooopsie!!! That should be SCRAP wood. Pardon my mistake. I will be using scraps because these items will not be in view unless you flip over the table. Here are some close ups of the walnut that I have. It has some seriously wild grain. I think it may have figure that rivals Marylin Monroe! Three of the boards are riftsawn (I think) and will work well for the legs and the skirt.




    I would like to use M&T jointery for the corners, but I do not have the tools necessary to do that type of work. I may try to taper the legs. Maybe do it on the lower 12" at a 5-10 degree pitch? For the overhang, maybe use 1.5"? I dont really want to go any narrower than that to make sure that I have a deep enough base. I will do a mock up of the table to see how it works.

    Thanks
    A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish.

  5. #5
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    Dan,

    Does the apron run on all 4 sides? It might be interesting to apron only the 2 long sides ...like an inverted "U" and let the leg elements reamin as free rectangles.
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    Last edited by Mark Singer; 12-31-2004 at 11:17 AM.
    "All great work starts with love .... then it is no longer work"

  6. #6
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    I was thinking of having the apron on all 4 sides. I am worried that if I dont have them on the long stretches, the table may rack over time. Maybe I could put in a center spine to try to pull the two sides together? This will also give me a longer area to screw in the top. If needed, I will also add in braces to the center spine and screwing blocks behind the legs.

    I am also going to reduce the skirt from 4" to 3". My boards are on average, 6" wide. This will make better use of the wood.

    Jim. I though about it further and I think it would look nice if I set the skirt back from the leg by .25 inches. what do you think?

    Dan
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    A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Singer
    Dan,

    Does the apron run on all 4 sides? It might be interesting to apron only the 2 long sides ...like an inverted "U" and let the leg elements reamin as free rectangles.
    Oh... So you think I should have the skirt running the full length on the 40" side and a larger leg (18"x12"?) on the two sides. That could be nice.
    A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish.

  8. #8
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    Dan --
    If you laminate two pieces of 4/4 to get quasi 8/4, you'll have a seam running up one face of the leg. When I've done that, it hasn't looked good to me. A different way to do it is to use the same 4/4 to make something that looks like angle iron, with the joint being mitered. The grain seam appears right at the outside corner of the leg, and is much less obvious. If the back side of your leg is going to be visible from the opposite side of the table, you can choose to fill in the back of the angle iron with another piece of wood, or you can leave it open.

    Jamie

  9. #9
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    A rip miter and then cut both legs from one piece...Jamie your right
    "All great work starts with love .... then it is no longer work"

  10. #10
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    Here is another approach that I just came up with. This one will have a bit of a funky modern flavor to it. I will take Jamie's advice and do mitered corners on the legs. The legs will sit out 2-4 inches from the table top. There will be support beams that will then go from the legs to about 6 inches in on the table. A 2" high box will sit on top of the support beams and the table to will sit on tip of that. This will give the illusion that the table top is floating. Interesting? silly? What do you think?


    And one more. Similar to the other one, but the legs are recessed 1" with the table top. There will be a 3" apron on the 18" side. On top of the 3" apron will sit two 2" tall runners that will run the 40" length of the table. This will also give it a floating effect.
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    Last edited by Dan Mages; 12-31-2004 at 5:29 PM.
    A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish.

  11. #11
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    If you taper the legs, consider tapering only the two inside edges of each leg. If you haper all 4 sides the legs look like they are not vertical but are tilted inward. Also if you end up with a conventional apron consider cutting a saw kerf about 1/8" from the top edge and about 1/8" wide using buttons to hold the top on. These can be bought or made and are a vey effective way of allowing for expansion. If the table will need to be moved ( as shipped from place to place) consider using hanger bolts to make the legs removeable. The hardware for this is readily available from Rockler, for instance, and inexpensive.
    18th century nut --- Carl

  12. #12
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    Try doing mortise and tenon joints for the skirting. You can do tenons on a table saw just using a miter gauge and without any fancy jigs. Use a drill press and chisels for the mortises. Just drill out most of the waste for the mortises and chisel out the rest. If you cut shoulders on all 4 sides of the tenon you can hide any mistakes with the mortise. I also think the skirting should be inset from the sides of the legs so that there is a nice shadow line reveal.

    I have used the "figure 8" devices to hold a table top to the base. You can get them at Rockler. If you elongate some of the screw holes they will allow for wood movement.

    I'm about to start on a similar project, so I'll follow your progress with great interest.

  13. #13
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    Unfortunately, I don't have a drill press. so doing the mortises are a problem. I do have a forged steel and wood handled bit brace, but that is a museum piece. Thanks for the advice. I will check out rocker's website.

    Dan
    A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish.

  14. #14
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    Dan,

    What about loose tenon joinery? You can do that with a router and an up cut bit. I'm a big Dave Marks fan and he uses alot of loose tenon joints. I've never seen him use any thing but a router for the mortises.

    Jim

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dunn
    What about loose tenon joinery? You can do that with a router and an up cut bit. I'm a big Dave Marks fan and he uses alot of loose tenon joints. I've never seen him use any thing but a router for the mortises.
    Jim, you beat me to it!! I just read Dan's comments that he doesn't have a drill press and loose tenons came imediately to mind. (They really aren't loose...the glue fixes that!!)

    Dan, you can make a simple jig to hold the router with stability to cut the mortises using a guide bushing. Quick, easy and doable for anyone with a router. Take no more than 1/4-3/8" depth each pass. The tenon stock you make on the table saw and just round over the edes with a router bit or a block plane.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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