Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Sapele Dining Table

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    872

    Sapele Dining Table

    Heres another table from the end of 2020. My mom's dining room table has always been a cramped affair for holidays and sunday dinners. In addition, this table dated to the late 40s or early 50s and was somewhat run of the mill production quality. It was my grandmother's. It developed a sag over the years, and the one leg began to separate from the aprons. Anytime my siblings and i expanded/collapsed the table, my mom would berate us with, "remember, it has a bad leg". This went on for years and possibly decades before my mom asked me in September to make a table to replace it. What do you want it to look like? I dont know, you choose. What species? Whatever you think is best. With this utter lack of direction, i started looking around for something that would fit in my parents' mix of family pieces stuffed in their dining room. Every existing piece is either cherry or mahogany, so i knew sapele would be my species of choice. As for the design, i saw a few tables that i liked, and i kept it pretty simple. I was fortunate that my local wholesale yard had a full pack of 8/4 sapele that were 14'+ lengths. I say 'fortunate', because typically a full pack is 1-2,000 bdft. This pack was the perfect length and thickness, but only 500 bdft and at $4.05 a bdft for the pack. After i picked through the pack for my material, i sold the rest as a slight premium.

    For the top, i knew i wanted the leafs/extensions to be absolutely seamless with the main table top. This lead to obsessing over labeling during my initial selection and roughcuts. Its not often i break out my festool TS75 to make these cuts, but i did to minimize the loss of material via out of square freehand circular saw cuts. After that, i continued with my OCD by tracking each board's edge and how many passes at the jointer etc. I didnt want me glue joints to be mismatched, nor did i want the grain to be off by 1/8-1/4". It paid off. While i do not have finished photos of the whole thing assembled--thanks, COVID--the extensions line up perfectly. The unfinished photo shows this, i hope. After assembling the top, i wanted to work in a long sweeping curve. My wife and i experimenting via facetime with several colors of chalk, and we settled on a general radius. I do not have a 13-14' drawing bow, and i had to mill an excess board just to rip off a 1/4" strip. With a series of quick clamps and the help of my wife, we drew on the desired curves. I had to cut these with my 20v dewalt jig saw, because the pieces were simply too large to cut at my bandsaw. Yet another scenario where i wish i had the insanely expensive Mafell bandsaw. My jigsaw cut was 1/16-1/8" away from my line, which allowed me to come back with a block plane and no4 to refine the line. With the table top and extensions complete, i assembled the three pieces together to have a look. I liked the shape, but felt the top needed some 'thinning' and more refinement. I experimented with a french curve for awhile, and started shaping. I know this sounds somewhat simple, but i probably spent 8 hours shaping a large roundover on the underside of the table's edge. The emmert's came in handy to hold the main top in place as i worked the profile back to my line. I then wrapped this corresponding profile onto the outside three edges of the table top extensions. Finally, i pre-assembled the table base and extensions together prior to final sanding. This way, slight discrepancies in the top surface and edge profiles blend together. The extensions slide into the stretchers of the table base. There are two forks that i lined up with the underside of the table with epoxied threaded inserts. I laid things out so the extensions can be stored underneath the table top. The top occupied 70% of the labor in the build.

    The base is pretty simple. The legs are laminated 8/4 and taper from roughly 4" square to 2.5-2.75" square. The long rails/aprons connect into the legs via a large dovetail. I hogged out the waste of the socket at the drill press and then spent forever paring it to perfection with a chisel. The tails were done in minutes at the bandsaw with a 7 jig. Finally, the stretchers connect to the legs via 4 homemade 14mm dominos.

    The table is absolutely massive. Its a smidgen over 13' when fully assembled, and 108" in its base configuration. The width is 42" in the middle that tapers to 35-36" at the extent of the extensions. It is a taller table at 32.5". My mom has some chairs that are an unusual height, which lead to the table top height being unusual. I very much look forward to having dinner again inside with the family and getting to see my completed work. Ive only seen it in pieces next to itself.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Averill Park NY
    Posts
    215
    Beautiful work!
    Some Blue Tools
    Some Yellow Tools
    A Grizzly Collection
    ShapeokoXL
    Blue and White 50 Watt

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    7,325
    Patrick, that is just gorgeous. I love the gentle curve on the sides or the top and the rounded profile. Worth all the effort it took. I'm interested in any more detail you care to share on how the extensions slide in/out. Also, what finish schedule did you use? Sapele is a beautiful wood and you brought out the best in that top.

    John

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,750
    Spectacular.

    Do the ends rest under the main top, for storage?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    872
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    Patrick, that is just gorgeous. I love the gentle curve on the sides or the top and the rounded profile. Worth all the effort it took. I'm interested in any more detail you care to share on how the extensions slide in/out. Also, what finish schedule did you use? Sapele is a beautiful wood and you brought out the best in that top.

    John
    I wish i had better photos, but here we go. The apron on the table base has two dadoes in it. I think they were 4" wide and then 1" deep. On the table extensions, i milled two pieces of 8/4 to 1.25-1.5" thick and 4" wide. These pieces were maybe 24" long total? I attached the rails parallel to the table extensions and had them extend 10-12" beyond the edge of the extension top towards the main table top. I then cut a lap/notch in the last 6-8" of the rail to fit into the table base's apron dados and extend past the aprons 6"+/- to screw into the main table. They slide into those 4" x 1" dadoes until the extension table edge butts up to the main table and the lap of the rail hits the table base apron. This way downward pressure on the table extension doesnt just leverage into the table top, but it applies pressure laterally into the side of the apron as well. I hope that makes sense, i really wish i had the photos to illustrate it properly. Finally, the rails themselves screw into threaded inserts into the underside of the table and table extensions. 8 bolts per rail--4 in the table and 4 in the extension. You can see the holes in the one poor quality photo. This is actually a screen capture of a video my mom sent after the table was in place haha. Its the closest i could get to the extension and rails.

    I still need to figure out a way to store the table extensions under the table. I made everything so it would fit, but i didnt come up with a means of holding them inverted under the table top. My wife had the idea of using leather belts to strap everything in place, but i think this would be a two person job at the very least. Someone would need to be on their back and bench press the table extension into place while the second person strapped it in place. Ok, but not ideal. The hardware and 4mm allen key are stored under the table via magnets and a small ledge. I splurged and got her a $4 rubber coated long handle allen wrench : )

    Finish is 3, maybe 4, coats of General Finish's Endurovar Satin. Prior to the final coat i sanded the finish to 400, heated my garage up to a balmy 70 via a portable space heater, and had good fortune with the final coat off my Fuji minimite 4. Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh is typically in the 40s and my garage is unheated. the first few coats had some orange peel texture to them because of the temperature, so i made sure to crank it prior to the last coat. I like to use an infrared thermometer in the kitchen for pizza stones, pans, etc. but it works well for checking surface temps prior to spraying finish too.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lewiston, Idaho
    Posts
    27,593
    Really beautiful!
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 02-22-2021 at 4:23 PM.
    Ken

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    872
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    Spectacular.

    Do the ends rest under the main top, for storage?

    They fit, but i do not have means for holding them in place, currently. If anyone has a brilliant idea, i am all ears. Here is a photo of the table flipped upside down and the extensions turned 90. They fit with a few inches of space around the perimeter.

    Yes, the table has leafs/extensions. They are 24" long and attach on either end of the table. The table is about 9' in its native form, but can go with 1 extension to be 11', or two extensions to be 13'. I dont like middle leafs, because it jacks up the grain continuity. Also, i know there are complex and nice table extension slides, i think they add unnecessary complexity and a weak link in the table's structure.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    That is simply beautiful...really great work.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Goleta / Santa Barbara
    Posts
    796
    Impressive, Patrick. Very impressive.

  10. #10
    Massive, Beautiful, Elegant!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Lafayette, Indiana
    Posts
    1,222
    Beautiful table. I am really intrigued by the end leaves. We have six kids, three that are married. Our 8’ farm table is perfect for everyday life, but for family gatherings I Would love a 12 or 13’ table. And I really like the seamless look without the leaves. When the extensions are in, are they latched or connected to the table in some fashion?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    872
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe A Faulkner View Post
    Beautiful table. I am really intrigued by the end leaves. We have six kids, three that are married. Our 8’ farm table is perfect for everyday life, but for family gatherings I Would love a 12 or 13’ table. And I really like the seamless look without the leaves. When the extensions are in, are they latched or connected to the table in some fashion?

    Yep, the rails/forks that extend off the underside of the end leaves bolt into the underside of the main table. There are threaded inserts embedded into the underside of the main table top that the end leaves' rails bolt to.

    I will have to provide an update--hopefully this summer--when i get to interact with the finished table as a whole. For example, i am curious to really test the extensions under various loads. In my shop, i did the simple grunt test of pushing down on the far end. With maybe 40-50lbs of load the extension flexed a smidgen, but not more than 1/8". We did mock place settings to figure out the spacing, and those extensions would seat an additional three people. One per side and then one at the head/foot. Even with elbows and serving dishes, i doubt the load comes anywhere near the failure point of the support rails. However, i am wary of one knuckleheaded uncle who might use the table as a crutch when getting out of his seat. I am less than confident of 240lbs with a 2' long lever. I think I would limit this to 18" for future projects. Who knows, maybe im being too conservative?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    7,325
    Thanks for the follow-up info. Patrick. EnduroVar never looked so good! Lovely on that Sapele.

    I think the extensions will be fine in use. I fear they are going to get shoved into a closet for storage, however, unless you come up with an easy system to store them under the top. I completely understand why you wanted that uninterrupted grain in the main top, but it would have been a lot easier to store traditional center leaves under the opened top had you chosen to do it that way. I've seen tables where the top extends but the table aprons stay fixed so the physical strength of the base is uncompromised. Something to think about for another table.

    John

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    872
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    Thanks for the follow-up info. Patrick. EnduroVar never looked so good! Lovely on that Sapele.

    I think the extensions will be fine in use. I fear they are going to get shoved into a closet for storage, however, unless you come up with an easy system to store them under the top. I completely understand why you wanted that uninterrupted grain in the main top, but it would have been a lot easier to store traditional center leaves under the opened top had you chosen to do it that way. I've seen tables where the top extends but the table aprons stay fixed so the physical strength of the base is uncompromised. Something to think about for another table.

    John
    Its not perfect and i keep thinking about switching to something else, but it sprays well, looks pretty good, and it is tough as nails. Really really tough finish. This is satin, but I started working with the matte version last year and really like it. I think the matte might be my go-to moving forward. I think this table will be more handsome by August when it is a lot darker. Oh, and the VOCs arent awful in the waterborne Enduovar.

    There was a ton of hand wringing over the storage of the extensions. Its ongoing, in fact. Im almost positive these extensions are currently sitting on top of the table right now. There were many facetime conversations about improper storage of the wings because they could potentially cup. In your example, smothering one face in a closet or under a bed or where ever else. I would still like to work out a solution for them to fit under the table like i originally planned. I like the idea of everything occupying the same footprint and not having parts strewn about a house.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    7,325
    I've sprayed many gallons of EnduroVar, and it is a great finish. However, it's not as bullet proof as I once thought. A friend of mine made a beautiful dining table of African mahogany and finished it with 3 sprayed coats of EnduroVar. A year or so later his wife put a leaky teapot on a cloth pad on the table and left it there for a few yours. When she came back the wet pad had left a semi circular ring where the teapot had leaked. It's still there a couple years on. The finish is still intact, but the white ring in or under the finish never left.

    That experience got me looking for a more durable finish. After lots of positive reviews of TC's EM-8000CV conversion varnish on the Finishing Forum I used it on an English walnut dining table I recently built. It sprays easier than EnduroVar and should be more durable although I have not yet run comparative testing.

    John

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •