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Thread: Sideboard / sofa table - First table project, looking for feedback

  1. #1
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    Sideboard / sofa table - First table project, looking for feedback

    Hello, fellow woodworkers! I hope you're all having an excellent week, so far. First, let me make a note: the image I attached is just a render, not a physical object, yet.

    In talking with my wife, I've decided to take on my first table project. (This is also my largest project, by far.) I'm hoping for some feedback on design, as well as any tips on construction.

    To start, I have some 4/4 black walnut planks in the garage that I plan to use for this project. All exterior-facing wood will be walnut. Underneath the top, hidden rails for the drawer slides to attach, as well as drawer boxes, will be something else. I have a mix of ash, alder, and possibly maple cutoffs from a friend I may use for those. I'm undecided on the drawer pull style, but thought some simple satin/brushed stainless knobs may complement the simplicity of the design.

    I plan to utilize mortise-and-tenon joinery for the legs and exterior rails. The hidden rails for the drawer slides will likely use pocket screws to keep things easier. The top will be secured to allow some wood movement, though I'll need to look into options there. Any suggestions on the best way to accomplish this? I've seen figure-eights that can swivel a bit as the wood moves. Are there other, better options out there? And should I use breadboard ends?

    The design is my own, but is inspired by simple, traditional furniture such as the mission or shaker styles.

    Any feedback? Too simple? Any issues?


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    Hi Eric, first, for a rendering that table sure looks real!

    I have a concern with the lack of a full apron in the front. It seems to me that the top would sag over time with any weight on the top, unless you are constructing each drawer in a full box which are attached to one one another which in effect creates a bit of a torsion box construction, which is likely fine to support the top.

    Can you provide an image of the internal construction?
    Last edited by Brian Tymchak; 09-15-2021 at 9:16 AM.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  3. #3
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    Re the knobs.... You could consider shop-made wood knobs/pulls. They look more handmade than metal. Another possibility to have no knobs at all. You can open these drawers by pulling on the bottom edge.

    Separate question...How did you make that remarkable render?

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    Agree that the render is surprisingly real. I too thought it was a finished project. CAVEAT: my taste is in my mouth, so take with grain of salt. The bottom shelf strikes me as disproportionately low. I would be curious to see a rendering with it elevated a few inches. I am sure others with actual taste, ie a design aesthetic, will chime in. Good luck, sir.
    Best, Patrick

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    I like the design - very pleasing, overall.

    From a structural perspective, I share @Brian Tymchak's concern about the lack of a front apron. I would want solid stock running the width of the table, both above and below the drawers, to provide more racking resistance and better support for the drawers. Might cost you a little in the depth of the drawers, but I think it would be more solid. If you have access to Fine Woodworking magazine, they had plans for a somewhat similar table in their March/April 2003 issue - would give you some ideas about how to design/build that part of the table.

    From an aesthetic perspective, I might put a little longer overhang on the top, and under-bevel it to make the edge a little thinner (especially if you're going to use stock that's close to the full 4/4 thickness.

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    ditto on the comments about the front apron, the rendering looking very real (how did you do that?), and a bit more overhang on the top. Also, the bottom shelf might look better if it were only the width of the inside dimension of the legs, butting into a low rail (M&T) rather than sitting on top of it. Just my 2 cents, and worth every penny.
    Stand for something, or you'll fall for anything.

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    Thanks, everyone, for the feedback! I'll try to answer all of the questions here, and I'm whipping up a couple more renderings to show the internal assembly and with the lower shelf up a little higher.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    Hi Eric, first, for a rendering that table sure looks real!

    I have a concern with the lack of a full apron in the front. It seems to me that the top would sag over time with any weight on the top, unless you are constructing each drawer in a full box which are attached to one one another which in effect creates a bit of a torsion box construction, which is likely fine to support the top.

    Can you provide an image of the internal construction?
    This makes sense, and is exactly why I wanted some feedback on my design. I came up with my current idea using some photos taken from "The Complete Book of Woodworking" for a writing desk with a similarly-styled (but singular) drawer. The rear of the table does have a rail that runs the full length underneath the top to give it some support, but it isn't a short table, either. It's approximately 66"L x 16"W x 35"H.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    Re the knobs.... You could consider shop-made wood knobs/pulls. They look more handmade than metal. Another possibility to have no knobs at all. You can open these drawers by pulling on the bottom edge.

    Separate question...How did you make that remarkable render?
    I probably don't have the skills or tools to make my own knobs. Certainly no lathe. Otherwise I would definitely consider making my own. I haven't done a ton of projects, and my most-intricate was a jewelry box for my wife. This is my first larger piece.

    As for the render, I whipped it up in Fusion 360, along with the complete design. It's pretty easy to create these shots in their Rendering workspace. One of the things that seems to help is using the 3D wood textures (called "appearances"), which seem to have more figure and depth to them. They also have texture through the model, if you cut parts or make section views.

    I use and teach classes on Fusion 360 frequently for work, so it was a no-brainer to use it for this project. In fact, if anyone is wanting a CAD tool to create designs, Fusion 360 has free personal licenses. There are some limitations over the commercial version, but I can do everything I want to do in there with the free version, and I've found it significantly more-intuitive to learn and use than something like SketchUp or OnShape or Blender or other free tools.

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick McCarthy View Post
    Agree that the render is surprisingly real. I too thought it was a finished project. CAVEAT: my taste is in my mouth, so take with grain of salt. The bottom shelf strikes me as disproportionately low. I would be curious to see a rendering with it elevated a few inches. I am sure others with actual taste, ie a design aesthetic, will chime in. Good luck, sir.
    Best, Patrick
    See below for an updated rendering with the shelf up a few inches. I wasn't sure how that would look, or if I'd need to adjust the taper at the bottom of the legs if I raised the shelf up. I could also raise the shelf, but also increase the size of the rails underneath it a little bit to keep the bottom near the top of the taper on the legs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Ragatz View Post
    I like the design - very pleasing, overall.

    From a structural perspective, I share @Brian Tymchak's concern about the lack of a front apron. I would want solid stock running the width of the table, both above and below the drawers, to provide more racking resistance and better support for the drawers. Might cost you a little in the depth of the drawers, but I think it would be more solid. If you have access to Fine Woodworking magazine, they had plans for a somewhat similar table in their March/April 2003 issue - would give you some ideas about how to design/build that part of the table.

    From an aesthetic perspective, I might put a little longer overhang on the top, and under-bevel it to make the edge a little thinner (especially if you're going to use stock that's close to the full 4/4 thickness.
    Thanks for the suggestions! I've shared a shot underneath the table to view the construction. That may affect ideas on how rigid the table top will be (or maybe not!). I did add a small bevel along the edges of the table already, but I can try making it a little more aggressive and extend the overhang a bit. I also don't want the table to be too deep front-to-back. It's going behind our couch, and I don't want anyone to kick it if it sticks out too far. I also don't want it to tip over, so I'm trying to balance stability with how much space it takes up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Carey View Post
    ditto on the comments about the front apron, the rendering looking very real (how did you do that?), and a bit more overhang on the top. Also, the bottom shelf might look better if it were only the width of the inside dimension of the legs, butting into a low rail (M&T) rather than sitting on top of it. Just my 2 cents, and worth every penny.
    Interesting idea on changing up the construction of the shelf. It might add a neat detail with a border around the shelf being exposed, and glued to the rails. Rails would then be M&T into the legs and glued. That would certainly still be pretty strong. I may also add another support under the middle of the bottom shelf, just in case something heavy is placed on it.

    Here's the shot of the internal construction:


    You can see I added hidden rails to attach the drawer slides. I would attach these rails to the rear rail and front spacer pieces with pocket screws, and possibly attach to the top using figure eight fasteners. My main concern would be wood movement, so I'm still sorting out the best option to connect these rails, if I do so at all. I'm also curious if breadboard ends on the top would be desirable. They might add an interesting detail to the design.

    Here's a render with the shelf raised 2.5 inches, which felt about right:


    And finally, here's a render with the shelf raised and an additional 1" of overhang on each end of the top. Not sure if that was as much as suggested or not.

  8. #8
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    You don't indicate how long the table is going to be. By making the drawers a bit shallower, you can run a rail all the way across, attached to the back of the spacers between the drawers, which will give a bit more support to the top.
    Lee Schierer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Schubert View Post

    I probably don't have the skills or tools to make my own knobs. Certainly no lathe. Otherwise I would definitely consider making my own.


    You don't need a lathe. Knobs don't have to be round. They can be rectangular, or square, or oval, irregular, or squiggly, etc. The only functional requirement is that they be somewhat easy to grasp. They can be undercut, or undercut only in places, or have ridges, or be roughened, etc. There's zillions of design possibilities when you make your own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    You don't need a lathe. Knobs don't have to be round. They can be rectangular, or square, or oval, irregular, or squiggly, etc. The only functional requirement is that they be somewhat easy to grasp. They can be undercut, or undercut only in places, or have ridges, or be roughened, etc. There's zillions of design possibilities when you make your own.
    Very true! I'll have to think about this a bit... it would be neat to make my own knobs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    You don't indicate how long the table is going to be. By making the drawers a bit shallower, you can run a rail all the way across, attached to the back of the spacers between the drawers, which will give a bit more support to the top.

    I did actually mention size in my previous "wall-o-text" reply, but it's easy to miss. Overall size: 66"L x 16"W x 35"H

    There is a rear rail under the top that runs the full length from leg to leg, joined with M&T to the legs. The piece would be 5" tall, same height as the drawers. You can see it in the underside screenshot in my previous reply. Would that be sufficient to support the top? Or are you suggesting adding another rail?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Schubert View Post
    I probably don't have the skills or tools to make my own knobs. Certainly no lathe. Otherwise I would definitely consider making my own. I haven't done a ton of projects, and my most-intricate was a jewelry box for my wife. This is my first larger piece.
    Here's an idea I did for a dresser I made. Cut a blank of walnut, routed the finger groves, glued a thin piece of cherry onto the walnut, and sanded the cherry away. No router table, just angle the bottom of the pull so there is something for your finger to grip on. Lotsa ways to make pulls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Schubert View Post
    Or are you suggesting adding another rail?
    Aad a piece of 3/4 x 3/4 stock across the front under the drawers so that it runs from the leg on the left to the leg on the right and attach it to the blocks in between the drawers. It will act like a truss bridge to support the front of the top to resist sagging.
    Lee Schierer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Carey View Post
    Here's an idea I did for a dresser I made. Cut a blank of walnut, routed the finger groves, glued a thin piece of cherry onto the walnut, and sanded the cherry away. No router table, just angle the bottom of the pull so there is something for your finger to grip on. Lotsa ways to make pulls.
    Interesting. Is the cherry meant to add a thin decorative layer to the walnut? If so, looks nice!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Schubert View Post
    Interesting. Is the cherry meant to add a thin decorative layer to the walnut? If so, looks nice!
    That's the idea. Worked out pretty well
    Stand for something, or you'll fall for anything.

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