Posts Tagged ‘#CoffeeTBO’

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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This fall the focus is on furniture! With the boat finished (more on that soon), I’ve been able to shift the focus of my basement shop to other sorts of projects. Following in that theme is my participation, starting tomorrow morning, in an online coffee table build-off.

I love the premise of the event: To build a coffee table starting on November 1st and finishing (with a bit of luck and work) on November 22nd. The event was designed, as I understand it, to help foster a sense of community among woodworkers online. Last winter I followed a similar build-off organized by Chris Wong over at Flair Woodworks and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the results. That event was a Shop Stool Build-Off and I was struck by the variety of designs that participants created. I first became interested in this build off through a post on the Flair Woodworks webside last month (here), and immediately started sketching potential designs. What a fantastic opportunity to push myself to create a design and build it quickly as well as to share my own creative process and design in a way which may serve to inspire someone else, just as participants in the Shop Stool Build-Off inspired me!

Earlier this fall I built a small step stool as a prototype for a larger bench I’ll probably get around to building at some point. It integrates what I would call open tenons and a bridal joint to create a piece that I think is elegantly simple as well as being immensely strong. Below are the joint before assembly and the finished product.



I thought about using this style of joinery as a starting point for a coffee table that reminded me in some ways of the work of George Nakashima. I like the idea, but whatever I build will probably end up in my living room, and I didn’t think it would fit.


Last week I finally got around to finishing a three legged stool based on a design by Tage Frid. I like the elegance and sense of lightness that long straight tapers can create. The height of the stool was limited by the length between centers of the lathe I was using. I did a quick sketch of a coffee table with the tapers and stretcher arrangement of that chair in mind.


As some point I did some rough sketches of a coffee table built like a timber framed structure. I still think that idea could be an awful lot of fun to build.


Recently, I have also started work on a chair inspired largely by a chair designed by Wharton Esherick (Hows that for covering the most prominent studio furniture makers of the 20th century? I suppose I haven’t mentioned Sam Maloof yet. Alright, done).  I’ve recently acquired an old Rockwell/ Delta lathe, and I’ve been putting it to good use turning the pieces and learning the finer points of using a skew chisel.


With all those ideas in mind, I think I’ve decided on a nicely simple design based on several benches shown in a book I picked up recently called We Sit Together. In the book, the idea of woodworking as a potentially subversive activity through its rejection of consumerism is considered, and its an idea that appeals to me. The specific benches that I am considering as a starting point feature minimal framework below the top surface, turned legs that taper towards the floor, and end up having a surprisingly modern look in many ways. There is a timelessness to the gentle tapers and utilitarian joinery that interests me. The simple forms remind me of many mid-century designs. Adapting bench designs to something with a surface as wide as a coffee table will require additional thought in order to take potential wood movement into account, but I’ve got most of the design roughed out, though currently it all resides in my head.


As I move forward with this project, my goal will be to post updates each week. Check in for to see how things progress!




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