Sofa Table from tension wood #1: Sofa Table from tension wood#1

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Blog entry by cathyb posted 06-08-2018 03:08 AM 2606 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Sofa Table from tension wood series Part 2: Sofa table from tension wood #3 »

This is a series to show my process when dealing with tension wood. I started this topic in a forum call “Darn that curly tension wood” to introduce the topic. Now that I have a plan in process, I wanted to show you how to deal with wood, which is unwilling to play nice:

I am working with curly koa and walnut. I chose walnut because it is relatively porous and will be a good choice for my laminations. When you have wood with too much tension, you can still make a great piece whether it’s a box or a larger project, as long as you resaw it thin enough and glue it to another wood, which is stable. You may choose to use the same species of wood or a different wood for interest. In this case, I chose walnut to introduce another element.

At the beginning, I cut my pieces into the rough dimensions for my sofa table. I ran each piece of wood on one side through the jointer to get a flat edge. Then I ran this board through my double drum sander to achieve to flat, sanded surfaces. Next resaw to create two book-matched boards. Now laminate each board onto a piece of milled flat walnut of the same dimension.

The table top and shelf have a natural edge, which I always love to work with in a piece.

Before I glue these two pieces together, I will cut the laminated piece of walnut to match the natural edge of my koa. This will create a hole in the table top and one on the shelf. This speaks to my “different drummer” way of thinking.

Once my two shelf pieces are out of the clamps (tomorrow morning), I will repeat this process. Then, I will mill these pieces to prepare for the edge joining.

Part two, finish up the prep work for the top and shelf and address the legs….

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

7 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


8982 posts in 3619 days

#1 posted 06-08-2018 04:28 AM


Good that you are back in the creative process! Never too many clamps, unless you have a press. LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View cathyb's profile


843 posts in 4021 days

#2 posted 06-08-2018 05:43 AM

Hey, Doc.

I love my clamps. A press would be great I suppose, but I am always making things of different shapes and sizes. Clamps fit every project I have ever created.

More fun tomorrow with the legs.



-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View DocSavage45's profile


8982 posts in 3619 days

#3 posted 06-08-2018 06:52 AM

I’m thinking of doing parquetry and thicker veneers as I have acquired a 30 inch black walnut . Will probably assimilate(steal) some of your techniques. LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Boxguy's profile


2877 posts in 3044 days

#4 posted 06-08-2018 02:27 PM

Kathy, welcome back to Lumberland. What make is your dual drum sander? I have one made by Steel City a company that is now acquired by Delta, I think. I bought this model because it will take a 12 inch thick board. That means I can run a whole box through the sander and do the top and bottom of a made box and makes the sanding of cut-off tops and bottoms a breeze.

The idea of attaching a stabilizing board is interesting. I am looking forward to your next blog.

-- Big Al in IN

View cathyb's profile


843 posts in 4021 days

#5 posted 06-08-2018 04:00 PM

Good morning Al,

The sander is a General. I think they were gobbled up too, which is sad. I have their jointer, lathe and sander which were solid and reliable tools. My drum stander will take a board with a width of 25 inches.

I always run my boards on a piece of absolutely flat plywood, attached with double stick tape (the kind they sell at Woodcraft for bowl turners). Some double stick tape is too strong and then you will end up with tape adhesive on your boards and a challenge removing the board. I use chalk to mark the boards to be certain the boards have a perfectly surface after sanding. It works quite well.

Have a great weekend….

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View swirt's profile


5249 posts in 3749 days

#6 posted 06-09-2018 03:21 AM

I am really looking forward to seeing the results. I have missed your work.

-- Galootish log blog,

View cathyb's profile


843 posts in 4021 days

#7 posted 06-09-2018 04:08 AM

Today was a slow day….
I started the day sanding again. Then it was time to prep for the gluing of the two boards for the top and the two for the shelf. First I used my Festool domino tool to cut some mortises to create a stronger joint and assist in the edge gluing.

Next, I cleaned up the natural edge holes, because it is too difficult to do this after gluing. I used my grinder to smooth the edge and then sanded to remove any tool marks.

Almost ready for gluing, but first I added polyurethane on the natural edge. Next, I added about an inch and a half of polyurethane on the tops surface instead of tape. I found that polyurethane is more effective than tape in protecting the pores of my wood, since alcohol can wipe off any residual epoxy during gluing. If I use tape, which I have in the past, the epoxy adheres strongly to the tape and makes more work in removal than desired.

Since this wood has what some would call defects, but I prefer to call a “feature”, where a small branch was part of this tree, I add small pieces of koa in those open areas along with koa saw dust to create a solid knot.

Then I was finally ready for gluing. The shelf is now clamped up. The table top will be next tomorrow morning. Finally I can address my legs….enjoy.

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

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