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Project Information

This was the model for the coffee table my nephew chose when I offered to build them a wedding present …



The joinery challenge involved the rounded corners shaped from through dovetails, mitred at each side. Parts of the challenge was to have accurately cut and fitted dovetails in hard Jarrah (no compression) as the outside would be removed in the rounding process.

The other challenge was the splayed and angled legs with mortice-and-tenon joinery.

There is a full build history on my website, with several chapters. Just scan down to "Another Coffee Table": http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/index.html

One chapter I will single out is on mitred through dovetails, which are then rounded: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/AnotherCoffeeTable2.html

Let's see how we did ….

Before the coffee table was assembled from the parts, I was mindful that it would be shipped from Perth to Sydney (which is the further than New York to LA). The main concern was that the container might bounce (be dropped or be handled roughly), and the weight of the heavy Jarrah top coming down on the splayed legs might cause them severe damage. (I am not concerned about the strength of the legs for normal home use - the construction is strong. More shortly).

So, I build a table out of MDF that could be placed under the coffee table, and would take all the weight …





The top and base were connected with steel angle brackets …



Part of the strength in the splayed legs comes from the corner brackets, which act to lock in the mortice-and-tenon joinery by preventing movement. These steel angle brackets further lock in the base from any possible twisting.

The brackets are angled to 10 degrees to match the inside of the rails …



Incidentally, the best, and cheapest, anvil is this section of steel angle, the insides of which are lines with Hard Maple scrap, and then clamped in the leg vise over a leg ….



The finish for the wood - Fiddleback Jarrah for the top of the carcase and the drawer fronts, and Jarrah for the base of the carcase and base/legs - was chosen for durability. It needs to be capable of resisting water marks and heat, and still have a natural appearance - not a sit-on-top finish, such as a poly or varnish. Most oil finishes are not durable enough.

What I went with in the end was Evolution (satin), a hard wax oil by Whittle. This is a floor finish, and in the examples I saw it looked more like a waxed oil finish. The reports and reviews were highly favourable. I must say, after using it, I was completely sold. It is fantastic! The surfaces were sanded to 400 grit (Abranet), and then two coats were rubbed on with a micromesh cloth, 8 hours apart. Any residue was removed immediately. There was no grain raising that I could detect, however I did rub down the first coats with 400 grit grey mesh.

The drawer case was waxed (only) with Lincoln Furniture Wax. This is a shellac-based wax. The inside of the drawer was finished with Ubeaut Hard Shellac diluted 50% with methylated spirits (alcohol). All of the above are Australian products. The interior of the drawer was lined in leather, which was waxed with Renaissance Wax.



This is a close up of the Evolution. It is so much nicer in the flesh. Silky …



OK, to the coffee table …

The front, with the drawer (and the agonised-over-drawer-handle-pull-whatever) ..





The colour, figure, and those rounded dovetails look fantastic …



Other end …



The rear has a closed panel. At the start of the project I had planned to make the drawer run all the way through, and open from each side. On reflection, this created more problems than it was worth, and so the one side was closed in with the same panel used as a drawer front …



The Jarrah base and splayed, tapered legs …



Finally the drawer …

The drawer stop used was the same design as used in the Apothecary Chest. This is adjustable, which enable the position of the drawer front to be fine tuned …



The 10mm drawer sides are Tasmanian Oak, which I find great for this purpose as it all comes quarter sawn. It is a moderately hard wood (by Oz standards). Plywood was used for the drawer bottom, as it was inset in grooves and covered in leather. Jarrah cove moulding was made to finish.





Inside there is an inscribed brass plate for remembrance …



Thanks for all the contributions and discussion along the way.

Regards from Perth

Derek

Gallery

Comments

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Registered
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6,485 Posts
Beautiful work, Derek! That Jarrah is lovely (love the color variations), and very hard to work, I've heard. True to the inspiration design, with a much nicer result.
 

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8,109 Posts
Nice build Derek. Your tape tricks for old eyes are great, and much appreciated. Outstanding as always.
 

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Premium Member
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5,793 Posts
Your version is much nicer looking than the "original". The wood selection is exceptional. Plenty of pictures and explanation as well. I've been waiting to see the finished version based on the discussion on the furniture forum.

It was well worth the wait.
 

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Premium Member
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28,616 Posts
wow thats a gorgeous table,i really love your dovetail work on the table and drawers.the wood is beautiful,great craftsmanship.
 

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1,407 Posts
Wow what a great looking table! It looks better than the original, the lines are crisper, the propotions more in balance, the finish is great and the details of the drawer is superb. By far the best project on LJ in a long time.
 

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2,783 Posts
Very nice build….......what a pain to ship.
 

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65 Posts
Very nice table. I know from some experience that making perfectly fitting dovetails to be rounded over is not easy-yours came out much cleaner than my feeble attempt!
 

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42 Posts
The wood is gorgeous! And those round-over dovetails…wow! Beautiful table, man. Nice work.
 

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11,128 Posts
Nice work Derek, and such a good write up. Seeing it along the way enriches the appreciation.

Thanks for posting.
 

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1,563 Posts
I love the table. Great design and build. !
 

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Premium Member
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4,326 Posts
Well done sir!!
 

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17,398 Posts
I like that retro style….drawers look awesome too.
 

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113 Posts
That's phenomenal. The dovetail-joints look surgically precise. Beautiful work.
 

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3,079 Posts
Beautiful work Derek. Your nephew should be blown away by your efforts.
 

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2 Posts
Oh my goodness, this is a work of art! Absolutely amazing, beautiful, stunning… I wish I could think of the perfect words. (And I wish i was your granddaughter haha)
But seriously, this table! The way you did the curved joinery… and yes the splayed legs. Both are so hard and take so much time to get so soooo perfect.
They don't even sell furniture like this in stores. Seeing something like this is so rare these days. They don't sell real wood furniture in stores anymore.
Anyway I only found this site from doing google picture search of the same table as your inspiration table. But when I saw YOUR table I decided to create an account so i could add a comment and tell you - I'm in awe of your work, and in love with your table!!!! Thank you for sharing!
 

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2 Posts
That s phenomenal. The dovetail-joints look surgically precise. Beautiful work.

- Steve
Omg yes, perfect way to say it! "surgically precise".
I reallllly wish I was related to him, like maybe his granddaughter, close friend of the family, something to get a table like this!!!
 
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