Monday, June 23, 2014

Coffee Table for Jessi

Well, now I gone and done it! I started on the coffee table for Jessi that I had promised her for her birthday way back in January! This project is gonna be a real trip!

First, the tabletop. The table slab will be two pieces of cottonwood joined together. I've had these two pieces sitting around the shop for quite some time and had already used the router planer to bring them down to a manageable thickness. But I wasn't sure they'd actually work for something like this. In fact, I'm still not totally sure they'll work because I've heard the butt ends of big pieces like this don't generally stay joined together very well. Hopefully, by doweling them I won't have that problem.

The joint has to be pretty doggone smooth in order to appear to be almost seamless. The pieces are too weirdly shaped to be able to use the table saw to cut a straight edge, so the circular saw had to do. Not too bad if I do say so myself!

Not quite perfect, though. So, I got out the router and inserted a Diablo 1/2" straight bit 2" long, measured for a guide since this bit didn't have a top roller bearing, and made the first pass. Nice! Go to the other piece and do the same thing. Still nice.

Because the pieces are approximately 3" thick, another pass from the underside has to be made on both pieces using another Diablo 1/2" straight bit. Only this one has a roller bearing on the bottom. So, it's a simple matter of flipping the pieces over and running the router along the edge. Even nicer results. The edges look almost seamless when aligned.

Now for the fun stuff. This is where being "artsy" comes into play. I like rounded, flowing edges for virtually all my works. For this slab, I used my saber saw to trim off the edges to get that rounded look. Later, I'll be using the angle grinder to further shape the curves, but for now this will do.

Well, the two slabs come together pretty nicely, but one is thicker than the other, and more has to be trimmed off to get it to the 4' length Jessi wants.

I decided to plane both pieces down to the same thickness before glue-up just in case I had a screw up.

Easier than I thought it would be, although time consuming and back breaking are to be expected when working on such a large area with the router planer.

Once the planing and trimming are done, the slabs will be a little over 4' long when joined together. This is the size Jessi wanted, so that's what she's going to get.

Using the dowel jig, four holes were drilled in the edge of each slab, both the edges received a generous helping of glue, and it was time to smush the two together.

Such weird shapes! Clamps aren't holding too well in some spots. Think I'll try a ratchet tie down. Durn thing keeps slipping - not much help.

After a whole lot of moving, re-clamping, adjusting, and frustration, the top of the joint came together nicely. Problem - the bottom has a gap.

Man, I tried everything I could think of including criss-crossing the clamps to draw the underside together. Nothing worked. Guess I'll just have to fill it with a sawdust glue mixture. It's on the underside, so really shouldn't matter all that much. Most of the time my faux pas aren't noticed by anyone but me. That's a good thing cuz I ain't gonna point them out to nobody!

Next up - shaping the edges of the slab.