Sculpting a little table with wings

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Blog entry by BenhamDesign posted 07-26-2018 10:34 PM 1489 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

A little interesting shaped table. I did most of the curves on the table saw and my jack plane. It’s made from maple and the blue pigment may or may not be ground up Smurfs .
If you’re interested in how I made it….. you can watch the video or read the recap below

Now I realized that the shape of this little table may not be to everyone’s liking. When the client explained to me wanted I was even skeptical if I could build the thing.
The shape of the top and lower shelf seemed like it would be hard to make two exactly the same if I were to hand carve them, but once I figured out a good order of operations it greatly simplified the build.
Once I milled up all the lumber I glued up the top and bottom shelf. Usually when I do a glue up of this kind I use biscuits or dominos to help keep the pieces from slipping while I tighten the clamps, but since these are going to get a lot of material carved out of the center I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t expose a misplaced domino while carving, so I took a little extra time during the glue up to try to keep the pieces in line with each other.

To cut them to final length I used my tack saw. I used the 2nd piece to add some stability to the track.

Once I had them cut to length I used a template to trace out the wing shape on the ends of each piece, then headed to the table saw to cut away the bulk of the material.

I set up a dado stack about 3/4 of an inch wide. It was a lot of material to cut away all at once so I just small pass.
I started on the outside edges and worked my way to the middle. This seemed a little safer, because if the piece wandered away from the fence during a cut, the back of the blade would most likely end up in the void I had already cut and reduce the chance of kicking the piece back.
I slowly worked my way across the piece, then raised the blade to the final depth of cut, and repeated the process.

Once I had the center waste removed it was time to cut the lower curve. I raised the blade to the height of the curve. Then sighted down the blade, adjusting the angle until it matched the curve as close as I could get it.
I clamped a sacrificial fence to the table for the work piece to ride against, lowered the blade and made a shallow pass letting the edge of the saw teeth do the cutting.

With Each pass I raised the blade about the height of the carbide on the teeth of the sawblade
several passes later I reach my layout line. The reaming wood will be cleaned up at the bench with some hand tools.
Before I cut the shape of the upper curves I wanted to get rid of the majority of the waste material, so I tipped the blade roughly at the same angle as the curve, adjusted the fence the right distance and cut away the excess.
Then for the inner curve I did the same thing, readjusted the angle, blade height, and distance from the fence. Cutting away that material.

I played it safe not wanting to cut too deep on the inside cut so there was a ridge of excess wood I needed to remove. A chisel and mallet made quick work of that.

Once I had the edge cleaned up I turned to my hand plane to smooth out the top and to get rid of the saw marks left behind form the dado blade. In this orientation I am planning across the grain so I stopped periodically to sharpen the plane blade. More often than usual.
To refine the curve and get rid of the plane marks, I used a festool interface sanding pad. It works great on irregular surfaces and contours to the shape of the workpiece.
After finishing up the sanding I moved onto the ripping the legs to widest width.
And cut them to their final length.

I used a holdfast to add a little extra downward pressure when I moved onto the wings. To create the curve I took shallow passes working the plane back and forth follow the curved layout line. The closer I got the line and curved shape the shallower pass I took.
I also should mention that I cut piece about an inch wider than needed so I would not have to worry about any tear out happening on the edges especially since I am planning across the grain, tear out is inevitable.

To attach the legs to the top and shelf I am going to use dowel joinery. So I made a quick jig to help me center the hole on the legs. It was really simple,
I drilled a hole in one of the cut offs and used some CA glue to add a couple of fences to register and clamp in place. I drilled a quick hole and move on to the next leg.

Since the legs are tapered on all 4 sides a standard tapering jig was not going to work. So I cobbled together a quick jig from plywood. I marked a center line on the jig and on the legs so I would have something to register to when loading the jig.
Then made the cut, but halfway through the cut I realized I was going to cut into the clamp, so I had to shut the saw down, wait for it to stop before removing the jig and adjust the clamp.

Total rookie move. Good thing my apprentice was busy on the other side of the shop or I would have never heard the end of it.
I got my jig reset and cut all the tapers on the front and back of the legs.

Then to cut the tapers on the sides of the legs I had to readjust the clamps to hold against the front taper while I cut the taper on the side of the legs.
Son of a Beep.
While the table saw blade winds down, so I can move the clamp out of the way, let’s talk about paint. As a woodworker I hate anything that is not the natural color of wood
I think this thing would have looked awesome in some lace wood, or zebra wood, but the client was a fan of the Smurfs cartoon growing up so I painted it Smurf blue for her.
To prep the paint for the gun, I used an additive call floetrol; it thins the paint so it will go through the gun, but also extends the dry time to the paint so it will level out better and create a smoother finish.
I did a cross hatch pattern when painting to ensure I had good coverage.

Since it would be hard to balance the thin legs on the clamps I cut a piece of plywood to use as a platform to clamp against
I used epoxy for the glue up to give me plenty of working time to get all the legs lined up.
I did a quick double check to be sure the legs are lined up then glued the top on
I took my time to be user I would smear glue all over the underside
Another quick check of the legs before clamping it up
Then to prevent scuffing the paint I draped a towel over the table and tighten down the clamps

Thank You Brian Benham

-- What I do in and out of the shop at

1 comment so far

View wrenchhead's profile


234 posts in 3940 days

#1 posted 07-29-2018 01:14 AM

That’s a cool piece. Your right it would have been nice to have it natural wood instead of painted. Hogging away all the material with your dado stack must have taken a while.

-- I could quit if I wanted

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