Small Table

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Project by Jeremy Greiner posted 07-15-2012 07:03 PM 2147 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a small table that I made to go beside my couch so I can lay down and watch tv and keep my drink, popcorn, remote or xbox controller easily accessible. It’s a pretty basic 4 leg table design but in my confidence in it’s simplicity I caused a lot of little problems. The table top is from a single piece of cherry, and the legs and stiles are from a piece of hard maple.

In picture 5 I am laying out the table legs and stiles on what will be the table top. I marked what pieces go where and prepared used my mortise pal to create mortises in all the pieces. After I created all the mortises I had the great idea to sand all the pieces separately instead of waiting until after they where glued together.

In picture 6 you can see I finished sanding everything, but only then did I realize I sanded away all my identifying marks so I didn’t know which piece matched up with what. This was important because the mortises for the loose tenons would be misaligned if the wrong pieces where selected. Well when glue up came, I did the best I could to find the right mating pieces but I failed. they did not match very well and this produced a table base that wobbled and the top wasn’t even flat.

I set the project aside frustrated because I wasn’t sure the best way to fix it. I wasn’t sure how a hand plane would work because of the long grain and end grain transitions. I thought about using the table saw to level off the top but the problem was once the first leg passed the end of the fence it was really dangerous to try and balance the single leg against the fence. In picture 4 you can see my final solution. I used some scrap OSB to build a box around the table legs this provided a long surface that could easily right against the table saw fence. Using this box I was able to flatten the top of the table’s base. With the top flatted it was easy to just ride the top against the fence and trim the feet to make the legs all the same length which produced a perfectly stable base for my table.

After that was all settled I realized I did not cut the slots in the stiles I wanted too for the fasteners to hold down the table. Since the base was already glued up I wasn’t sure how I was going to cut the slots. I thought about using a biscuit joiner that seemed my best bet. But it wasn’t until after I watched the kreg pocket hole jig DVD that came with the jig that showed how to attach a table top using pocket holes and that seemed like the best bet. I could easily add the pocket holes and then screw them into the table top.

The table top is made of 1 piece of cherry that is cut in half and glued together, I tried to hide the separation but it didn’t really work because the varying in grain pattern it’s easy to see the line down the middle. It’s not a huge deal but if I had to do it again, I would celebrate the line by adding a small strip of maple down the middle or do a better job of hiding it by re-sawing the board in half and using book matched sides for the top. I added a small round over to the top, and I chamfered the bottom corner this makes the table top appear a lot thinner and I think really makes it look a lot nicer.

After all that was done it was time for finishing. The top is about 8 coats of wipe on poly, I got a drip on one corner and was furious and tried sanding it out that made things not so good I ended up sanding to bare wood to get the nib out. I added about 4 or 5 more coats of wipe on poly just to get the sanded through section to look like the rest and I ended up getting another nib. I need a lot more practice with my technique obviously, though I decided to leave it be and added 2 coats of paste wax to the top of the table.

The base is 4 coats of wipe on poly and a coat of paste wax. I didn’t feel the need to build up a big film on the legs and I think it helps bring out the glossiness of the top by not having super shinny legs.

I got a dvd on finishing at my woodworkers guild last thursday, and sure enough they had a neat method using a razor blade on how to remove the drip that you get sometimes. I will surely give that a try next time because sanding was not the right way.

The project is done and I am very happy with it, and always it was an adventure and I learned a lot of what not to do :)


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

5 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30637 posts in 3548 days

#1 posted 07-15-2012 07:49 PM

Experience is a cruel but effective teacher. I would bet that nearly everyone on this site has a story like this. You did a nice job.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3900 days

#2 posted 07-16-2012 12:50 AM

I think your table turned out very well. Your solution to flatten the top frame was creative (but safe and worked). And I’ll bet you enjoyed the journey (except for the finishing prob-I hate when that happens). Did you use the pre-made wipe on or mix your own? I like to mix my poly/ms a little thin: takes more coats but they dry quicker and flow/level well.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 3981 days

#3 posted 07-16-2012 12:55 AM

I mix my own .. 50/50 mineral spirits and poly. I’m sure it’s technique with wiping it on, it drives me nuts because I try and wipe it on smooth and inspect the piece for any drips or build up while wet, it’s just that 1 mistake kills ya. Though this finishing DVD I borrowed from my WW guild had an awesome tip about removing them with a small razorblade which I will totally try next time.

-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View chrisstef's profile


18133 posts in 4216 days

#4 posted 07-16-2012 12:55 AM

I just finished a table myself, and also lost the marks for the corresponding M&T’s … let’s just say that im glad no one can see inside those joints. I can sympathiseze with the frustration. You made it out alive brother and like you i learned a whole bunch about what not to do. The final product looks great.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 3981 days

#5 posted 07-16-2012 12:57 AM

Isn’t that just the kick in the nuts when that happens you’re all ready to glue together and then look at the pieces and several curse words float to the head.

-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

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