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Coffee table project

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  • Coffee table project

    I need to start another project like I need a hole in the head, but here I am. I think my wife is indulging me because we're moving in a few months and I'll be shopless for who knows how long. I also wanted to build something that I could possibly bring with us to remind me of this house.

    Anyway, 8 years ago I bought a couple of rectangular glass table tops with the idea of making coffee tables but I never formulated the shape of the base in my mind. Over the years I've grown a fondness for mid-century modern furniture and I recently found a design I like. I decided to blatantly copy it. I bought Matthias Wandel's BigPrint program which is an absolutely ingenious program. I imported the picture I found and used BigPrint to produce full scale patterns of the parts I needed. I traced them out onto some hardboard and cut them out roughly on the bandsaw. The picture wasn't high res enough so my pattern wasn't perfect but enough to get me close.

    The piece of home comes from the walnut base for the project. This is from the tree that fell down next door almost 7 years ago. I've been saving some 8/4 boards just for this. You can see the picture of the table I am working from. You can also see in the same pic some doors I veneered for a bathroom vanity I'm supposed to be working on. Ssssshhhhhh....

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    Since the uprights that connect the top and bottom rails are essentially curved parallelograms, it was a little bit of a headscratcher on how to make sure the two ends are parallel to each other and they were all the same length. So I made a jig. The jig from left to right is equal to the length of the final part (11.5"). It's U-shaped with a piece of plywood on the top and the bottom with an offcut the same thickness as my part sandwiched in between. My part (which I rough cut to shape) slips between the plywood and then the back of the jig is screwed down to clamp the part in place. There's some sandpaper sprayed glued to the inside of the jig to prevent my part from slipping. To use it, I first register the front of the jig against my panel sled's fence. I have a stop block clamped 11.5" away from the blade. I then run it past the blade--which is raised as high as it will go and is a little scary.

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    So now the right side of my part is flush to the edge of the jig. I remove the jig from the sled and then ride the jig against my TS fence to finally trim it to length. For the pic, I placed the pattern on top of the jig to help you visualize what is underneath.

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    I think the jig worked out great. I cut 5 parts just in case.

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    I eagerly laid out the parts to make sure everything was flush. It is.

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    I'm going to leave the parts "square" and join them using Dominoes. I think I'm going to make a full size pattern in plywood and use that to template route the final shape. Since I need this to be portable, I need it to disassemble. The two parts will be joined with angled halflaps--which is the next challenge--but I need it to come apart. I'm thinking one of the bottom pieces will only be held with Dominoes for registration and screws. TBD.


  • #2
    looks like a great start! keep calm and carry on!

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

    "Like an old desperado, I paint the town beige ..." REK
    Bade Millsap
    Bulverde, Texas
    => Bade's Personal Web Log
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    • #3
      That's going to be beautiful. Can't wait to see the finished product.

      Another vote for Big Print.I love that program. It's so handy.


      • #4
        I spent a good chunk of Sunday refining the plywood template I would use as a pattern to route the base to final shape. Monday night I set the 70lb glass top on some sawhorses and put my template on top of it. Hmmm...the template seems a little large compared to the top. I was expecting more overhang of the glass. Doh! See what I did?

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        So after some choice words, I decided I didn't have to remake my template, just cut it in half and join it back together in the middle with pocket screws. I cut out 6". Cutting it in half was also helpful because when I laid the halves on top of each other, I found they weren't very symmetrical so I screwed them together and sanded them symmetrical using my Ridgid OSS. This is the most I've used the OSS since I bought it. I'm glad I have one!

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        Of course, I had also cut the Domino slots so I re-marked where the new slots on the base should go and re-cut the slots. I had already reset all the settings on the Domino so I was worried things wouldn't be flush anymore, but it was very easy to reset the fence and the height to their previous settings and everything fits just fine.

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        I am keeping the top and bottom sections square while I lay out the half lap joinery. The two base pieces will line up on the diagonal of the tabletop so I have an odd angle to deal with. Something I learned from a friend who made a sofa table with a half lap on top is to do all your finish sanding before cutting the half lap. He cut his half lap first, then sanded, and ended up with an unsightly gap.


        • #5
          Pushing my luck. I'm stopping here tonight.Click image for larger version

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