Sapele Maple Coffee Table #1: Planning

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Blog entry by Jordan posted 03-19-2014 05:57 AM 1420 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Sapele Maple Coffee Table series no next part

I have been planning a coffee table project for about a year now and it has gone through a number of design concepts. I have always wanted to build a table out of walnut and contrast is with maple accents. This is a recurring theme in my projects. I struggled with the theme and style for a long time. The intent was to be simple, but with some minor details that stand out and increase the technical aspect of the work. I also like square and simple lines with solid members. I am not a fan of slender and curved design; although there may be a bit of an intimidation factor involved. As a result of my design intent I struggled to find the balance between simple and technical.

Eventually I settled on a design with Sapele and maple. I saw some pictures of sapele with a dark finish and the ribbon features were very appealing.

The challenge for me in this project will be three fold. Firstly this is the largest sized project with fine qualities that I have built. Secondly, the underside of the table top edges are tapered to create a raised panel effect – this is a first for me. Thirdly, the legs are cut from 3”x3” blanks with tapers on four sides. The unique aspect for me are two different taper on each legs. Additionally these tapers are pointed in the same direction when looking at any given face. This creates an eccentric appearance. The outside tapers cut in 1/2” from the bottom up. The inside tapers cut in 1” from the top down starting just below the rails.

To address some of the challenges I have built a number of jigs. The first is an auxiliary fence with the ability to attach sacrificial rabbeting faces and a tall fence. The design is taken from a Fine Woodworking magazine.

Sorry for the poor picture. More details to follow in later blog posts.

I also built two tapering jigs from the youtube videos posted by the Woodworkers Guild of America on Youtube. The jigs are sized to cut the two tapers of the legs.

The next step was to make a mock up of the legs from some scrap cedar. This was a great choice as it helped me work through the steps and make some mistakes. The first two cuts, faces A and B, were completed with the jig that cuts the long, shallow outside tapers.

Cut #3 was face C, and is the first of the short and deep inside tapers. This was done in taper jig #2 with the left over wedge from cut B to shim up the leg. Cut #4 was face D and completes the leg. It used wedge B to shim against the fence and wedge C to shim up underneath.

Then end result is a successful leg. I tried to cut the tapers 1/16” fat to clean them up after on the jointer. However I undershot my allowance and the jointer drew the taper in deeper than expected. Adjustments to the jig will be necessary later.

-- Jordan, BC

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