Posts Tagged ‘Coffee Table Build Off’

The submissions for the Coffee Table Build Off are all posted, and there is the opportunity to vote on your favorite. The one with the most votes will apparently get some sort of Viewers Choice award. I think mine stacks up nicely, but take a look through the submissions. There are some really nice designs. If you happen to think mine is the most attractive design, please vote for it! If you like another one more, I suppose you should vote for that one instead! Either way, enjoy, and many thanks to Neil Cronk for putting this on.





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My coffee table is done. Its description and photos have been sent off to Neil Cronk at the Cronkwright Woodshop. Many thanks for the help I received from my brother Joseph photographing it. Many thanks also to Neil Cronk for putting this event on. I’m getting excited to see everyone else”s submissions and wondering a bit how mine will do. Here’s what I sent in.

Dimensions: 48″L, 22″W, 16″T
Materials: White Oak with Black Walnut wedges.
Design and Build:
This design was inspired by several old benches in a book called “We Sit Together: Utopian Benches From the Shakers to the Separatists of Zoar” by Francis Cope. I was intrigued by several of these benches in particular because despite being quite old, there was also something about them that was distinctly modern. Their simplicity, and the long straight taper of their legs resembled many pieces of danish modern furniture. There was something timeless and elegant about these benches which I tried to achieve with my coffee table design. I also enjoy the subtly subversive themes discussed in the book. Perhaps by building myself a high quality piece of furniture in what I hope is a timeless design I have circumvented consumerist culture and carried this idea into my coffee table?
The top is composed of three edge glued planks. The legs were turned. In order to allow the tenons of the legs to pass through the top while also accounting for the expansion and contraction of the wood in the top, I split each of the visible cross pieces into two halves with a narrow gap between them. A pair of secondary cross pieces provide additional stability across its width. The cross pieces are all fitted into partial slots which were routed and squared up with a chisel. The wedges in the tenons are black walnut for contrast. Screws are stainless steel. The finish is composed of 4 coats of Watco and layer of paste wax. I’m not sure the 4th coat of oil was entirely necessary.

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With less than a week to go, my coffee table is fully assembled. Tomorrow I’ll start finish work, but let me show you some of the steps since my last update.

I glued up the top! Nothing very exciting here. Three White Oak planks edge glued with many clamps holding them together and flat.



The table has what appears to be a full width apron (or at least I’ll call it an apron until I come up with a better term), and a partial width cleat at each end of the table. These are set into slots which run for only part of those pieces lengths. These slots help provide additional stability for the legs and strength for the cleats while also ensuring the screws have plenty of meat to bite into.



Drilling the holes for the tenons was interesting. I used an engineers square and a sliding bevel to provide references as I drilled these holes. Not my favorite step of the process, and I ended up needing to get creative to correct the angle of one leg later on.


With the holes drilled I was able to do an initial test assembly to see how it would look.

IMG_1101Here you can clearly see all the slots for the various pieces as I did some final, pre-assembly sanding.


After a variety of other steps I won’t go into, everything was ready for assembly! You’ll see that I’ve cut the aprons into two pieces. I did this along with over sizing the screw holes in these pieces and the cleats to allow the wood to move naturally with moisture changes without affecting the through tenons of the legs where they go through the top.



I’m please with how its looking. I’m not usually a fan of using a round-over bit with a router because it has the potential to leave the wood looking more like its been machined than worked by hand, but I like the effect of routing the end of the aprons and the underside of the table top. All that remains to be done before I apply finish is to shape the bottom of the legs, cut the tenons flush with the top, and to sand the top.IMG_1145IMG_1152IMG_1153IMG_1154




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Many thanks to Neil over at Cronkwright Woodshop for putting on the Coffee Table Build Off which is now under way! The first weekend is coming to a close and I’m feeling good about the state of my design and the first two day’s progress. I’ve taken a few minutes to check out some of the other competitors and from the little bit I’ve seen it looks like some really cool designs are going to be built. For my part in this, you can expect a fairly conservative design, without anything too ground breaking, but I think the result is going to be very handsome.

Earlier this week I started pulling some old boards off my lumber rack, and was happy to discover that I had all the wood I needed! There was a pile of oak left over from a project I never got far along with that had everything I needed including 4 pieces already cut to length which would be perfect for turning the legs of my table.



On Saturday I turned each of the legs into a cylinder, but I wasn’t sure how long I wanted the legs to be, so I stopped there.


Today I spent some time thinking more specifically about dimensions and drew a small scale plan for this table. With the dimensions figured out I went ahead and turned the tenons, tapered, and sanded all 4 legs. They are pretty much ready to go. At 2 days in I feel that, if anything, I’m ahead of schedule! Now I just have to keep it that way. Next step will be cutting the planks for the top and gluing those together.



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