Nakashima-esque Coffee Table #1: Step-by-step Tabletop

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Blog entry by Donowoodworks posted 07-22-2012 01:55 AM 8931 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Nakashima-esque Coffee Table series Part 2: Step-by-step Tabletop Continued »

I have been itching to make a table for a while now. Not just any table, mind you, but a live-edge table made from a slab or two.

When summer began I told myself that I would do it, and while I was browsing the internet looking for wood slabs, I came across a gentleman who had literally hundreds of slabs sitting in his back yard, waiting to be sold.
I looked up the address and saw that it was close to some family members, some seven hours of driving away. “Perfect excuse.” I thought, “I can drop by and buy some wood while I am visiting.”

Two very long drives later, and a very pleasant afternoon with the gentleman (Who cuts his own wood, by the way, and is a genuinely nice person: His site, for those of you who are interested), I had not one, but TWO pretty good sized Claro Walnut slabs sitting on the floor in my shop.

I have begun the project. I’m pretty excited.

Here is the slab that I plan to use as the table top. I roughly leveled it on each side with a router and a jig I made for just this purpose. I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but I will show it when I do the same thing to the other slab for the legs. Notice the line where two types of trees were grafted together to grow. In this case, the darker root and trunk base are Claro Walnut, while the upper, lighter trunk and branches were English Walnut.

The rest of the day was spent gathering blackberries on the nearby mountain with my brother and making wine. Woodworking and Winemaking? Not a bad day!

The other slab (for the legs)

The leveling jig. Just a slot to run a router across with adjustable legs.

After leveling the slab with a router, I used a plane to smooth out some of the rough points. The tabletop was an awkward shape, so I had to do some work imagining ways to reconfigure it while I worked on other parts of the project.

I cut up some bubinga to make the dowels out of. All set to turn 1” dowels.

Measuring to make sure that my depth marks are all 1”. I could have used another jig and a router for this part, but I thought that it might be faster to just turn them by hand, since there are only 4.

Sand paper glued to a block (3M77 spray adhesive is amazing. It gets used all the time in my shop.)

Sanding almost finished on the dowels. It is really important to keep dowels straight, which is why rough sanding is done with a straight edge (the block). In a straight piece, your eye picks out the narrow spots or bulges on a turning that wouldn’t be visible if the turning had finnials or beads or coves.

A closeup of some of the grain on the burled tabletop.

The shape of the top was rather awkward, so I cut it lengthwise with a jig saw, and will stitch the pieces together with some bubinga dowels and butterfly keys.

-- -Mark Donovan, [email protected]

4 comments so far

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3967 days

#1 posted 07-22-2012 03:48 AM

Can’t wait to see this! Love claro walnut!

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 3277 days

#2 posted 07-22-2012 11:57 AM

This is going to be awesome! Can’t wait!

-- Steve

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3456 days

#3 posted 07-22-2012 01:25 PM

That is exciting! Gonna be great!

-- I never finish anyth

View abie's profile


920 posts in 4688 days

#4 posted 07-22-2012 06:17 PM

I have personal knowledge of Glen and his wood.
Nice guy for sure and great wood slabs
Wish I had room for one in my home but alas 1200 sq feet does no accomidate large pieces.

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

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