Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Two Tables out the Door.

Hi there PORC fans.

Sorry I missed my post last week.  It's been a bit of a whirlwind due to that stupid vacation thing.  As a self proclaimed work-aholic, I think I have a bit of a point when I say, "I don't like vacations because I'm always behind when I get back."  Anyhow.  I'm here for another installment from the land of PORC.

I have two outdoor tables that leave the shop tomorrow morning.  It's really amazing how much can be learned from previous projects.  One of the tables came strait out of my back yard in need of refinishing.  Now, that may seem like a total pain, but it gave me a chance to relook at my building and finishing techniques from 5 years gone by.  It's ironic that I was building a new farm table the same week out of some of the amazing wood I showed last time.  Anyhow, enough blah blah.  Keep reading for the good blah blah.

Several years back I made a table out of cutoffs from our fence project.  In the same post I mentioned above, you can see the actual cedar that we used.  When it was all said and done, a few scraps needed a new home and we needed a new patio table.  I did buy a couple sticks of mahogany for the outside frame.  I hadn't figured out the legs, and then POOF, 4 stainless steel legs fell off the back of a truck and into my shop.  (Not really off a truck.  They were mis-ordered and about to be discarded.  In swoops Jason)  Materials complete!  Lets make a table.

This was one of my first Domino projects.  Overall, the table is still in great shape.  I don't have any nasty fasteners to look at and the wood can breathe with the season changes.  When people ask where we got the table, I always say "Ikea", and each time they look at my wife and say, "I was just there the other day, and I didn't see this one." I laugh each and every time.

I coated the piece with Dalys Spar Varnish.  I couldn't be more impressed with the product.  I sprayed 2 coats of high gloss, and one coat of satin.  It's held up GREAT!  I've basically left it outside uncovered for 5 years.   It's taken a beating, but really held up well.  This last winter took it's toll and I needed to strip it down and reseal it. 

After a few hours of Jasco stripping, I took the belt sander to it and got it all back to bare wood.  Then I threw some more of the same finish on.  This time with a brush.  BAD CALL!  I've become a bit of a spray snob and horrible brusher.  I would rather have a bit more work prepping in order to spray if I can avoid all of the stupid brush marks.  If it were a REAL client, I would sand it back down and spray it.  But this client is going to just have to deal with it.  It will be interesting to see how long it lasts by taking it inside for the winters.

So, lessons learned:  Domino=Stud.  Sprayed Finish=Sweet.  Brushed Finish="Did he use a paint brush or a shop broom to apply that finish?"  Moving on.

I had a fun time making a farm table with a friend and fellow woodworker.  He had a great idea in his head about the table.  We put it in Sketchup, made a few mods and got cutting.

Working with rough sawn lumber is really a treat and a curse.  It's heavy, has lots of these little things you may have heard of called splinter,  and LOTS AND LOTS of them.  Oooooozing cavities of sap around every corner and now every surface of my shop has some on it too.

Now that being said, it is so rewarding to uncover the mystry that lies below the abusive surface.  With each pass over the joiner, my smile grew.  I love my job!

In order to get the required dimensions with the lumber on hand, I chose to resaw 4 long boards.   It roughed out around 1 1/8", we got 1" finish thickness in the end.  I built the tops in 2 stages.  First I glued up the matched pairs, each about 12" wide, and after a light pass through the planer, I put them together for the final 35" top.

The Domino kicked it again.  we used them about every 12", to make sure the seams lined up.  They were just shy of perfect!  A few minutes of scrapping off glue and we're about done.  It takes a few extra minutes to use them, but well worth the time.

The leg stock was provided by my fellow wood geek.  He had a few large beams left over from the building of his home. (Where this table will reside)  I wouldn't describe them as clear furniture grade, but they were dry and big enough to work with.  OH, and prepaid (i.e. free).

We added a gentle 4 sided taper on each leg.  The material is just under 3 1/2" so it wouldn't quite make it all the way through the saw.  This turned out to be a blessing.  With each pass through the saw, it left about 1/8" of uncut material.  This left over piece was just right to reuse as a reference for the taper jig.  Once all four sides we cut, I snapped off the cutoffs, and took about 2 minutes to remove the leftover wood with a handplane.  Good little trick we fell on.  I will do it again in the future for sure!

I knew based on the other table, that I needed a bit more mass to hold this thing together, so the Domino was out.  It's a 150lb table just under 7' in length.  We decided to make the biggest floating tenons we could.  I pulled out the plunge router, strait edge and started making piles of chips.

Each hole was 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 2"  This gave me 2" of depth in each hole.  I made up the tenon stock with some extra maple.

Each leg got 2 mortises, as did the end of each apron.  We also used them on the breadboard ends, as well as a small spline the entire length of the ends to keep it nice and flat over time.

I've got it all glued up, rounded the edges and gave it final sand before finishing.  The best news here is that I don't have to finish it.  My friend is brushing on some Sikkins for a bulletproof finish.  It should be fun to see the final photos once it's all done.

It's been a great week!  I'm about to finally start working with the piles of walnut in the other room. I see a blog post or two out of those bad boys.

As always.  Thanks for reading!


  1. Great post and I really love the photo of the bread board end to the table top. Beautiful work!

  2. Thanks Jeff. My wife said the same thing. :)

  3. So gorgeous! I'm really hating the glass dining room table that we have. Maybe one day when we can afford it we will recruit you for a gorgeous wooden table!

  4. Sarah, that sounds GREAT! Maybe we could keep the glass top and create a fantastic base to help with the "afford it" part of the equation. Thanks for reading!