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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Months after table-top glue up

Basics: Poplar, Mortise and Loose Tenon, Gel Stains and Top Coat

In spite of starting this months ago with a quick drawing and a 3-board glue up for the top, I only recently started back on it. A move to a new house/shop, and a new job search put a ka-bosh on most of it.

Short on cash, I glued up legs rather than buy 8/4 stock, and made do with wood I had on hand. I chose poplar because at first, my wife wanted to paint it. But after showing her some finishes with some gel stains, she's decided on a variation of a Woodsmith finish - Georgian Cherry, with a 1:1 Georgian Cherry/Java mix. I've considered shellac and Arm-R-Seal as top coats. I don't expect it to have drinks on it. BUT . . . you never know!

These are the various pieces as they are now, and the 2 sample boards for finishes. the smaller board was (left to right) Java, 1:1 Georgian Cherry/Java, GC with 1:1 over, and finally 2 coats GC.

The larger sample board was zeroing in on the final choice, far right, GC with 1:1 over.

Next steps are :
Cut the tenons to length (stock is milled)
Taper the legs
Dry Fit
Glue Base
Dry Fit top
Disassemble
Rout inlay groove
Cut and glue tiger maple inlay, flush with table
Shellac the inlay to protect it from stain
Stain the table top
Top Coat.
Damage the finish with a glass of beer or wine while admiring my work.

Yep - That's it, I think.
Food Ingredient Recipe Cuisine Wood

Wood Creative arts Composite material Hardwood Wood stain

Wood Rectangle Hardwood Wood stain Window

Table Wood Creative arts Hardwood Rectangle

Wood Rectangle Wood stain Hardwood Flooring
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Dry fit

The first dry fit showed some work needed on the tenons. I first cut them a shade long, even though I thought I'd left some room for glue. SO - that means I didn't get the mortises as deep as I'd planned. But it was just the smallest of adjustments there.

I also found that the top of the legs and apron weren't flush, so again a couple adjustments.

Wood Rectangle Flooring Floor Material property

Wood Mobile phone Stairs Floor Flooring

Table Wood Rectangle Shelving Wood stain


But with that work done, and another dry fit to see how it's starting to come together, it might end up a table after all!

Table Wood Outdoor table Flooring Gas


Finally, here is the stain and maple to be used for the inlay.

I'm sanding now, will begin glue up in the coming hours. I hope!
Brown Rectangle Wood Floor Flooring
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Glue up, and still trying to get done!

Even after checking the tenons, and th e dry fit to see that the legs and apron all lined up, something during the glue up didn't go quite right, and the apron didn't end up flush with the top of the legs. The table top leaves a gap at places around the base

Since my legs were all the same length, flushing the leg top to the apron now means the table top is not level (starting on a level surface, of course).

But I also want to be sure the legs are square to the top. Visually, you might see it if it's not. At least I always spot a picture the least off kilter ;-)

I'll adjust the legs by sanding the feet to bring the table back level.

Also, while flush trimming the top to a template, the 90 degree corner at the back of the table top chipped away, so that was cleaned up and fixed. No problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Inlay finally in

So after some time, I got back to this, and routed the channel for the inlay. Glued it in and is leveled.

With the base glued up, time to prepare the top for finishing.

Will coat the inlay with shellac as Norm did on the Nest of Tables. Then seal coat the whole piece. The gel stain recipe goes on next, top-coated finally with poly.

Here is the top after leveling the inlay and scraping. With poplar's grain, you can see where some is almost mirror smooth, and some is open grain. This is no sanding, just hand scraping.

Wood Rectangle Tints and shades Font Table


Here, although the focus is on the scraper results, the inlay is in there.
Wood Table Rectangle Tints and shades Hardwood
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And ready to start over...

So, part of the plan originally was to bevel the edges: 1/4" from the inlay, 10 degrees.

The hard part was the very short sides. I figured that out using a sliding fence and 90 deg stop and clamps to hold the table top in place. Worked like a charm. Then, I got smart.

Thinking I had the hard part licked, I assumed I'd be able to run the long sides along a tall fence on edge, and because I had plenty of length, I would be able to make these cuts in a straight forward manner.

But the termite gods were not to have any of it. The cuts were all different, and 2 out of 3 were not even straight along their length. In one place, the bevel reached all the way to the inlay, cutting just barely into it.

And no, I'm not posting pics of the damage.

Needless to say, the top is now useless until the inlay is cut away, and the top is resized to become the first NESTED corner table.

TAKE THAT TERMITE GODS! TO HELL WITH ALL OF YOU!!

{to all those proper, lady-like woodworkers, I beg your forgiveness for my outburst and language ;-) }
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update - table resized, moving on

The original table top is resized - meaning inlay and botched bevel is cut away, squared back up and cut to shape and size, inlay is laid out, and the "nesting" idea is in full swing.

My wife likes this idea, so now, since we were going to have TWO corner tables for different spots, we are now having TWO NESTED pair.

How did recovering from a mistake end up in FOUR TIMES THE WORK?

(That's how I explain it to her. To me, it's 4x the reason to be in the shop to try to stay halfway on schedule. But don't tell anyone!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
2 Bases, 2 Tabletops, 1st coat of stain

My first plan was to get the inlay glued in, coat the inlay with shellac (as Norm did on his Nest of Tables), and hope for the best. However, I followed some other decisions, and I'm not sure I am happy. The new plan was to use blue tape in the groove to protect glue surfaces, but not put the inlay in until after the table top had the full stain recipe applied.

What I hadn't expected was the difficulty of getting the gel stain even near the tape, and in attempting to do so meant accidentally pulling some tape out while wiping and still getting some stain in the groove, and in other places almost gluing in the tape as the stain dried. My lack of experience here I'm sure contributed to the difficulties. But at this point, I'm not sure how to proceed.

I only did one of the two table tops. If I screwed something up, I wanted to learn from the mistakes and correct it going forward. As you can see in the pics, there is some uneven cover. I'll be looking to see if it's grain or pulling too much off. I saw it during the wipe-down, but couldn't get it to recover correctly.

Can I fix that with a "spot" coat of GC?

I have one more coat (if all goes right) before top-coats. I'm using GF Georgian Cherry and Java gel stains. First coat is GC. I want this to be a solid base coat. Second coat will be a 50/50 GC and Java mix.

Options:
  • Retape the groove but cut tape low to the surface to prevent pulling it out when wiping off the stain
  • Glue the inlay - at this point, the sealer 1 lb. shellac and 1st coat of stain will protect the wood, and any squeeze-out should pop right off.
    • After gluing in, cover with shellac. I have purchased micro brushes to help make sure I get the whole inlay but not the table top.
    • Problem here - flushing to surface (which was part of the original discussion). Must not damage the surface/stain, and can it be repaired if so?

Other? Still thinking this over . . .
Brown Wood Rectangle Wood stain Book


Wood Table Rectangle Floor Flooring


Wood Rectangle Flooring Wood stain Hardwood


Rectangle Wood Wood stain Hardwood Tints and shades


Brown Wood Rectangle Flooring Wood stain
 

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2 Bases, 2 Tabletops, 1st coat of stain

My first plan was to get the inlay glued in, coat the inlay with shellac (as Norm did on his Nest of Tables), and hope for the best. However, I followed some other decisions, and I'm not sure I am happy. The new plan was to use blue tape in the groove to protect glue surfaces, but not put the inlay in until after the table top had the full stain recipe applied.

What I hadn't expected was the difficulty of getting the gel stain even near the tape, and in attempting to do so meant accidentally pulling some tape out while wiping and still getting some stain in the groove, and in other places almost gluing in the tape as the stain dried. My lack of experience here I'm sure contributed to the difficulties. But at this point, I'm not sure how to proceed.

I only did one of the two table tops. If I screwed something up, I wanted to learn from the mistakes and correct it going forward. As you can see in the pics, there is some uneven cover. I'll be looking to see if it's grain or pulling too much off. I saw it during the wipe-down, but couldn't get it to recover correctly.

Can I fix that with a "spot" coat of GC?

I have one more coat (if all goes right) before top-coats. I'm using GF Georgian Cherry and Java gel stains. First coat is GC. I want this to be a solid base coat. Second coat will be a 50/50 GC and Java mix.

Options:
  • Retape the groove but cut tape low to the surface to prevent pulling it out when wiping off the stain
  • Glue the inlay - at this point, the sealer 1 lb. shellac and 1st coat of stain will protect the wood, and any squeeze-out should pop right off.
    • After gluing in, cover with shellac. I have purchased micro brushes to help make sure I get the whole inlay but not the table top.
    • Problem here - flushing to surface (which was part of the original discussion). Must not damage the surface/stain, and can it be repaired if so?

Other? Still thinking this over . . .
Brown Wood Rectangle Wood stain Book


Wood Table Rectangle Floor Flooring


Wood Rectangle Flooring Wood stain Hardwood


Rectangle Wood Wood stain Hardwood Tints and shades


Brown Wood Rectangle Flooring Wood stain
can you put some tip of feller and after you stain pull it out and then put the inlay in
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
2 Bases, 2 Tabletops, 1st coat of stain

My first plan was to get the inlay glued in, coat the inlay with shellac (as Norm did on his Nest of Tables), and hope for the best. However, I followed some other decisions, and I'm not sure I am happy. The new plan was to use blue tape in the groove to protect glue surfaces, but not put the inlay in until after the table top had the full stain recipe applied.

What I hadn't expected was the difficulty of getting the gel stain even near the tape, and in attempting to do so meant accidentally pulling some tape out while wiping and still getting some stain in the groove, and in other places almost gluing in the tape as the stain dried. My lack of experience here I'm sure contributed to the difficulties. But at this point, I'm not sure how to proceed.

I only did one of the two table tops. If I screwed something up, I wanted to learn from the mistakes and correct it going forward. As you can see in the pics, there is some uneven cover. I'll be looking to see if it's grain or pulling too much off. I saw it during the wipe-down, but couldn't get it to recover correctly.

Can I fix that with a "spot" coat of GC?

I have one more coat (if all goes right) before top-coats. I'm using GF Georgian Cherry and Java gel stains. First coat is GC. I want this to be a solid base coat. Second coat will be a 50/50 GC and Java mix.

Options:
  • Retape the groove but cut tape low to the surface to prevent pulling it out when wiping off the stain
  • Glue the inlay - at this point, the sealer 1 lb. shellac and 1st coat of stain will protect the wood, and any squeeze-out should pop right off.
    • After gluing in, cover with shellac. I have purchased micro brushes to help make sure I get the whole inlay but not the table top.
    • Problem here - flushing to surface (which was part of the original discussion). Must not damage the surface/stain, and can it be repaired if so?

Other? Still thinking this over . . .
Brown Wood Rectangle Wood stain Book


Wood Table Rectangle Floor Flooring


Wood Rectangle Flooring Wood stain Hardwood


Rectangle Wood Wood stain Hardwood Tints and shades


Brown Wood Rectangle Flooring Wood stain
Hey, Robert - thanks for the suggestion.

My only question is what type of filler? The one problem I'm not sure I know how to overcome is when the stain is up against the filler, how do I wipe off the stain up close without leaving some kind of heavy build up there, or apply too much pressure against it and take off too much and end up with it light? As in the pics where I showed part of the edge and along the inlay groove (after I had taken out the tape) where it's lighter than the rest of the table.

I was hoping the tape would serve that purpose, but - at least with my level of expertise - I couldn't get it even without also getting it in the grooves because I'd press too hard against the tape. I'm definitely open to suggestion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Inlay glued, but probs ensue

I cleaned out the grooves so I had clean glue surface, and prepared the inlay - a figured maple.

Using a corked caul with plastic to prevent sticking to it, I glued in the maple. But once the inlay was in, I had squeeze out that even with tape down, is giving me some extra work. Example - some of the squeeze out was pressed by the caul into the bare wood in a very, very thin layer. This won't just "pop" of the way a bit thicker layer would from the stained surface. It's thin enough that it's in the pores of the wood.

Also, in trying to flush the inlay I have already marred the stained surface in several places.

Next - try to figure out how best to proceed…

Realizing I have another table top that has no shellac sealer, no stain, and no inlay glued in yet. I may try Norm's approach on the that one.

But solving the first (and larger, main) table top will dictate how to apply the finish on the second and on both bases to make sure the finish matches.
 

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Inlay glued, but probs ensue

I cleaned out the grooves so I had clean glue surface, and prepared the inlay - a figured maple.

Using a corked caul with plastic to prevent sticking to it, I glued in the maple. But once the inlay was in, I had squeeze out that even with tape down, is giving me some extra work. Example - some of the squeeze out was pressed by the caul into the bare wood in a very, very thin layer. This won't just "pop" of the way a bit thicker layer would from the stained surface. It's thin enough that it's in the pores of the wood.

Also, in trying to flush the inlay I have already marred the stained surface in several places.

Next - try to figure out how best to proceed…

Realizing I have another table top that has no shellac sealer, no stain, and no inlay glued in yet. I may try Norm's approach on the that one.

But solving the first (and larger, main) table top will dictate how to apply the finish on the second and on both bases to make sure the finish matches.
Have you thought of trying tape around the inlay area? Lay the tape on the surface before cutting the recess for the inlay and the tape will line up with the edges perfectly. Once you're done gluing, strip off the tape and you have clean surfaces ready to proceed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Inlay glued, but probs ensue

I cleaned out the grooves so I had clean glue surface, and prepared the inlay - a figured maple.

Using a corked caul with plastic to prevent sticking to it, I glued in the maple. But once the inlay was in, I had squeeze out that even with tape down, is giving me some extra work. Example - some of the squeeze out was pressed by the caul into the bare wood in a very, very thin layer. This won't just "pop" of the way a bit thicker layer would from the stained surface. It's thin enough that it's in the pores of the wood.

Also, in trying to flush the inlay I have already marred the stained surface in several places.

Next - try to figure out how best to proceed…

Realizing I have another table top that has no shellac sealer, no stain, and no inlay glued in yet. I may try Norm's approach on the that one.

But solving the first (and larger, main) table top will dictate how to apply the finish on the second and on both bases to make sure the finish matches.
Yeah, Tiny, I did that. However, the caul I had was wider than the tape, and the squeeze-out went wider than the tape. it was so thin that it couldn't be peeled up, and was dry enough to not wipe off.

But I paid a visit to the Woodwhisperer, who confirmed my thought of sanding the inlay flush, taking glue and stain with it, then restaining with a shellac over the inlay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Top Sanded - ready to continue

Ok - the top is now sanded back down. Current problem:

  • Sides of inlay groove - where the stain got into the grooves - soaked into the exposed end grain. This has created an "outline" in places along the inlay.
    • By the way - the darker "discolor" is only mineral spirits not quite dried

Rectangle Wood Cutting board Hardwood Composite material


Rectangle Wood Wood stain Hardwood Composite material


Rectangle Wood Wood stain Hardwood Font




The top is sanded back down to 220. Used mineral spirits to whisk off last of dust.

And the next tasks:
  • 2 coats of 1/2 lb cut dewaxed shellac as a sealer for blotch.
    • This also has to be done to the parent table base before staining
  • Carefully coat the inlay with waxy shellac to prevent stain from sticking to the inlay
    • This will have to be tested on working sample
  • Glue inlay into second table top (nested)
    • Flush
  • Seal top (base pre-sealed before glue-up to aid squeeze-out clean-up)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Think we're ready to move on

Back-tracked, spoke to several people, got some advice from The Woodwhisperer (Thanks, Marc!), and have a test board that looks promising. Color isn't quite right, but you'll get the idea…

Brown Rectangle Wood Brick Flooring


What I learned so far:

  1. Gel stains are good because the do cover so evenly
  2. Gel stains cover so evenly over waxy or de-waxed shellac - Norm's process doesn't work here
  3. The 1/8" masking tape does well to cover the inlay during staining, but comes up easily afterward. (Thanks again, Marc!!!)
  4. Stain must be worked into the edge of the tape, but this leaves excess stain along side of the tape - a very thin line that will be noticeable if not removed
    1. It's difficult to use cloth or rag to remove the excess stain without leaving an "edge" along side of the tape where too much stain has been removed and the finish is "lighter" than the rest of the workpiece.
    2. The tip of an exacto knife will clean the edge, but you have to be careful you also don't pull/scrape too much away, as it can leave a distinct lighter line along the edge of the tape. (don't know if this would be very visible unless REALLY looking for it)
  5. Pulling the tape off, you'll see that there is still a bit of a hard line at the edge of the tape, we'll see how this fares out
  6. The tape MUST overlap in the corners, if not, you end up with a line across the miter
    1. I suppose you might be able to miter the tape, but that would be difficult to get exact
    2. This has to be done with care - you want the tape to be tight against the inlay right up to the mating corner tape, and THEN go up and over. Otherwise, you'll end up with stain under the tape in the minuscule gap where the tape "slopes" up from inlay to top of the tape on the mating corner.

About noon today, the stain should be about dry, and I'll look more closely at that edge along the inlay, and see if there's work needed there.

I'm hoping the exacto knife will keep there from being a raised edge that might have to be worked. If that DID work, then I'm ready to start with the Arm-R-Seal wiped on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Don't get GREEDY!!

The stain recipe is going on. So far, so good. I think I'll like the way it turns out.

And yes, it's more work than most will think poplar is worth. That's ok.

HOWEVER: I got greedy, and I'm paying the price for it.

I tried to pull the tape up with the stain still wet. In some places, it pulled the stain in a string onto the maple inlay. Not much, but some. So I stopped, will let the rest of the table set, and on the second one, I'll just wait.

Patience, I keep small amounts of it around here, somewhere. Think I'll stop and dig it out…
 

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Don't get GREEDY!!

The stain recipe is going on. So far, so good. I think I'll like the way it turns out.

And yes, it's more work than most will think poplar is worth. That's ok.

HOWEVER: I got greedy, and I'm paying the price for it.

I tried to pull the tape up with the stain still wet. In some places, it pulled the stain in a string onto the maple inlay. Not much, but some. So I stopped, will let the rest of the table set, and on the second one, I'll just wait.

Patience, I keep small amounts of it around here, somewhere. Think I'll stop and dig it out…
Well you know what they say, you live and you learn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Don't get GREEDY!!

The stain recipe is going on. So far, so good. I think I'll like the way it turns out.

And yes, it's more work than most will think poplar is worth. That's ok.

HOWEVER: I got greedy, and I'm paying the price for it.

I tried to pull the tape up with the stain still wet. In some places, it pulled the stain in a string onto the maple inlay. Not much, but some. So I stopped, will let the rest of the table set, and on the second one, I'll just wait.

Patience, I keep small amounts of it around here, somewhere. Think I'll stop and dig it out…
I don't.

Wait . . . was that multiple choice?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Almost there...The big reveal!

Took a breath, gave the table tops some time, and then took the tape off.

Even with some of the lessons learned regarding the mask, there were some places the stain was able to sneak under the over-laps, but some more where it didn't.

Brown Shelf Furniture Wood Table


Brown Wood Tints and shades Hardwood Font


Brown Rectangle Wood Table Wood stain


Next - I have to put the second part of the stain recipe on the larger base, and tone the smaller base a bit darker. Will probably have that same adjustment on the larger base

Table Furniture Desk Wood Chair


Wood Table Rectangle Wood stain Hardwood


But overall, they're coming together. For what was to be a prototype, not bad…
 

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Almost there...The big reveal!

Took a breath, gave the table tops some time, and then took the tape off.

Even with some of the lessons learned regarding the mask, there were some places the stain was able to sneak under the over-laps, but some more where it didn't.

Brown Shelf Furniture Wood Table


Brown Wood Tints and shades Hardwood Font


Brown Rectangle Wood Table Wood stain


Next - I have to put the second part of the stain recipe on the larger base, and tone the smaller base a bit darker. Will probably have that same adjustment on the larger base

Table Furniture Desk Wood Chair


Wood Table Rectangle Wood stain Hardwood


But overall, they're coming together. For what was to be a prototype, not bad…
Very nice job! I like the contrast a lot.

On projects where I had inlay and staining all going together, I would apply a couple of coats of shellac to the inlays that I didn't want stained (using a small artist brush). I then did the staining and the stain on the inlay would not adhere thus leaving it nice and clean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Almost there...The big reveal!

Took a breath, gave the table tops some time, and then took the tape off.

Even with some of the lessons learned regarding the mask, there were some places the stain was able to sneak under the over-laps, but some more where it didn't.

Brown Shelf Furniture Wood Table


Brown Wood Tints and shades Hardwood Font


Brown Rectangle Wood Table Wood stain


Next - I have to put the second part of the stain recipe on the larger base, and tone the smaller base a bit darker. Will probably have that same adjustment on the larger base

Table Furniture Desk Wood Chair


Wood Table Rectangle Wood stain Hardwood


But overall, they're coming together. For what was to be a prototype, not bad…
Thanks, Don.

Yeah, that was my first plan. Got it from Norm's Nest of Tables episode. Did you use gel stains? On these, I'm using a gel stain cocktail, and the gel stains simply covered too well. I did a couple test boards using the shellac. Although it did reduce adhesion, it didn't eliminate it, or even reduce enough to keep me from a great deal of detail sanding to remove the residue.

I put some descriptions of other advice (which was problematic) in an earlier blog entry, so this was the most recent advice. While it has its challenges, it works if done carefully.
 

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