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Thread: Coffee table in progress

  1. #1
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    Coffee table in progress

    My wife, Judy, has been asking me to build a coffee table for over a year. But somehow, other projects just got in the way. Late last year, the threats grew serious and I knew it was time to get cracking on the table. It's still in progress but I'll show what I've done so far and update when I finish.

    The table is mahogany and has some inlay on the top - two corners. It has a shelf below and I'll put a center marquetry design on the shelf.

    Here's a view of the table without the bottom shelf.

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    And here's a view with the bottom shelf, but without any veneer on the top of the shelf.

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    I did inlay on two corners of the top of the table. Here's a closeup of one of the inlays.

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    And here's the marquetry which will go in the center of the bottom shelf.

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    Building the table, itself, is pretty easy. But the marquetry and inlay takes time. First, I have to draw the flowers (it's known as a cartoon), then make a packet of veneer, cut it on a scroll saw, then sand shade the pieces and then put it all back together. Takes a lot of time.

    I though I came up with a good idea for attaching the legs, which is always a problem on coffee tables because the top is so thin. If anyone is interested, I'll post some pictures.

    And, later, when I get it finished, I'll post a completion pix.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  2. #2
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    Wow Mike...looks real nice!
    It's not what you achieve in life...It's what you overcome!

  3. #3
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    put me on the list for wanting to see how you connected the legs mike,, and that marquetry is out standing.. just for the sake of curiosity how many hours would you say that you had in the marquetry on the veneer shelf insert?
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
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    I wanna see how you did the legs, too.

    Also, I have a question: Are you at all concerned about having your (outstanding!) marquetry span across that mitered joint? I know you're the expert on that account, but I'd have been afraid the joint's possibly differential expansion would break the marquetry.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    But the marquetry and inlay takes time. First, I have to draw the flowers (it's known as a cartoon), then make a packet of veneer, cut it on a scroll saw, then sand shade the pieces and then put it all back together. Takes a lot of time.
    I suspect saying it takes a 'lot of time' is an understatement. That's a lot of detail work. It looks fantastic!
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DeLaney View Post
    I wanna see how you did the legs, too.

    Also, I have a question: Are you at all concerned about having your (outstanding!) marquetry span across that mitered joint? I know you're the expert on that account, but I'd have been afraid the joint's possibly differential expansion would break the marquetry.
    I'll post some pictures of how I did the legs a bit later. When I put the miter joint together, I used a couple of dominos to hold them together. I don't think it will cause any problems for the inlay but only time will tell. It's the first time I've done inlay across a miter joint like that. I used white glue (Elmer's GlueAll) to glue down the inlay and white glue will allow some movement. Hopefully, it will be okay.

    And just a comment on clamping those miters together. The dominos really helped to hold things in place while I got everything clamped. I could have used splines or biscuits but those would not have held the pieces together as well - the pieces could have moved relative to each other as I was clamping. When the Domino first came out, I poo-poo it but now that I have one and have used it a fair amount I'm really sold on it.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  7. #7
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    Okay, let me see if I can describe the leg attachment. I took a few pictures but maybe not enough. The first picture is of the top of the table, turned upside down. Note that I have a piece of decorative molding around the edges.

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    At this point, the legs have already been made. Using them as a guide, I marked off their position, aligned along the miter joint, and chiseled out the molding to fit the leg. I numbered the legs and the corners so if one leg was slightly wider or narrower than another, the fit would be perfect on each one. Note that I put two screws into the molding at the head of each cutout. I wanted to make sure the molding would not come apart there - the attachment technique can lever that molding (to be explained).

    To attach the legs, I figured I need to have an attachment technique in the "front" of the leg and at the "back" of the leg. To attach the front, I decided to use a dowel between the molding and the leg. To drill the dowel hole in the molding, I made a jig from a piece of scrap molding, drilling a hole centered side-to-side and top-to-bottom.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The jig fits exactly into the cutout in the molding.

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    I then chose a drill bit of the dowel size and measured how far I wanted the hole to go into the molding. I used blue tape on the drill to indicate that depth.

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    When I drilled the hole, I just had to go up to the blue tape. Although not shown here, I clamped the jig into the slot while drilling to make sure it was all the way down and wouldn't move while I drilled the hole.

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    [continued to next post]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 03-31-2013 at 05:24 PM.
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  8. #8
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    Then I used a dowel hole transfer pin to transfer the location of the hole to the leg.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I then drilled a hole into the leg and glued a dowel into that hole. I rounded the end of the dowel so it would go into the hole in the molding easier. I didn't have a jig to drill the hole into the leg - I just had to eyeball the drill to align the hole straight. But that's not too difficult to do.

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    Here's a picture of the leg in position (back and front view). In the front view, the leg has not been slid all the way into position.

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    Note on the back view, I cut a couple of pieces of scrap and fit them into the wedge between the leg and the molding. These wedges (or "ears") were then glued and screwed to the leg. Although not shown in the picture, I then screwed the wedges down into the top of the table. So the front of the leg is supported by the dowel which keeps the leg from racking backwards. Side-to-side racking is supported by the tight fit with the molding and by the "ears" that I screwed down at the back of the leg. And forward racking is supported by the ears at the back of the leg.

    I was going to glue the legs in but once I saw how secure they were without glue, I decided to leave them so the table could be disassembled in the future. The shelf is attached with four screws that come up from underneath the legs, so someone could remove the shelf, then remove the legs.

    If my description is not clear, please ask and I'll try to explain and/or take additional pictures.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 03-31-2013 at 05:27 PM.
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  9. #9
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    Yep, it takes "a lot of time" (a LOT of time). But it's a hobby, not a business, and I enjoy the work.

    I often feel like I'm involved in a slow train wreck when I'm doing the work. I have all those pieces spread out on numbered trays and it looks like it'll never go together. I have to keep telling myself "one step at a time" and eventually it gets done. But just one screw up and all that work will be lost. Glue up is the scariest because if I screw up the glueup, there may be no way to recover.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  10. #10
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    well explained mike ,, thanks for taking the time to show us your methods.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

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