Alex's Coffee Table Build Off #3: The top

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Blog entry by Nitreug posted 11-16-2014 02:46 AM 1711 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The complete base Part 3 of Alex's Coffee Table Build Off series Part 4: The finishing line! »

In this entry, I’ll cover some design and the construction process for the top. This blog series is not in chronological order but for the ease of reading, I’ll cover all of the top in a single entry as opposed to covering it in a few separate entries.

As I wrote in my first entry, I decided to make the top more stable without making the top too thick. I call this “the spine”. The center section of my top is made from 8/4 maple and I decided to put a half-cove on each side to create this spine. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so hopefully, these two pictures will save me some time:

Creating a cove on the table saw is both time consuming and messy. I was a walking dust ball after the fact.

Once the spine was created, I had to sand a lot with my pneumatic sander. I managed to removed most of the mill marks but I accidentally had a few marks too deep to sand away. I guess that was a good learning experience that the sliding table is not fool proof and can still move a little when it’s locked. I may use my own fence if I ever do another cove on the table saw.

After some sanding, I made a center dado on to fit the tenons on the legs. I then cut a piece of walnut to fill most of the dado but leaving the end open for the tenon. I could have cut a smaller dado with a router and a straight bit but I thought the walnut would add a nice touch and it was also a much faster method.

When I did the glue up for the base, I put the center section on the tenons to ensure that everything would fit after.

The glue-up. I used dominos to help for alignment (not shown):

The shape of the top was something I had a hard time figuring out. I had five ideas:
1) An oval. A classic form that is in my opinion a little bit boring for this.
2) A rectangle with convex sides.
3) A rectangle with concave sides.
4) A rectangle with rounded corners. I never wanted to use it but it was an option if I was running out of time.
5) An S shaped table top. That idea was given to me by my dad. I thought it had some merit.

I ended up decided to make convex ends and concave sides. The concave sides are reminiscent of the concave sides on the stretcher at the bottom. The convex ends looked cool to my eyes and also helped me hide some imperfections in the wood. I used my lee valley drawing bow again to get a pleasing shape. I used the band saw for the cuts.

Finally, I cleaned the sides with whatever seemed to work. I used the oscillating spindle sander, my spokeshave, sandpaper, etc. The last step was to make a round-over on both sides. I only created a partial round-over since the thickness was not enough for the radius of the router bit I used. I’ll end up blending everything after so I’m not worried for now.

On my last post, I’ll cover how I blend the top with the legs and the finishing of the entire piece. I hope you enjoy reading about this build.

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