Lego Coffee Table
This Christmas we decided to break the seal on the wonderful world of 'regular' legos and gave the kids their own sets and unlocked the mystical rubbermaid full of bricks from when I was a child. We don't have a dedicated play room in our house, so I wanted to make something that was functional but also aesthetically pleasing as it would be front and center of our house.
I used Marc's (TWW) gaming coffee table as a base, making slight modifications to dimensions as needed, but overall I'm quite pleased with the result and the kids are loving having a place to play.
Starting out breaking down the stock. This is a fantastic way to keep practicing my sawing technique without doing practice joints.
Not a breeze, but it goes faster than you think.
I didn't want to pay for 3" thick stock for the legs, so we're gluing up. I was able to get the grain looking as riftsawn as I can.
Checking orientation for best look. Each leg had one maybe two sides that were semi flatsawn looking. I was able to direct these so they showed inward.
Outside faces looking good.
Outer aprons looking decent with the grain. If the table wasn't as big, I could have had straight grain the whole length, but we deal with what I'm given. Also marking for orientation.
I'm really looking for speed in this build, which means Domino. I really don't have anything to prove anymore, I know I can do it with integral tenons, but this will be beat to death from my kids, and won't be an heirloom. Domino is just as strong and takes about 1/5th of the time.
Grooves in the bottom allowed me to try the new Dado stack I won a year ago. XD
First Dado stack I've used that did not leave the 'bat ears' on the edges. Perfectly flat bottom.
Set the dominos.
I think Dominos are perfect for a table of this size and use.
Base is plywood, cut to fit
Sneaking up on the rabbet fit.
Marc cut dados in the legs on his version, but mentioned it's not necessary. I chose to go the easy mode and just notched the corners.
Marking for tapers. I screwed this up once long ago, will not do it again.
Rough cuts, planed smooth off camera.
Cleaning up the edges on these aprons before I glue up. I really didn't need this since they're hidden under the top frame, but it was fun anyway.
Dry fit. This is bigger than I thought it would be.
Don't forget to chamfer the bottoms of your legs to avoid splitting the grain when scooting it around.
Here you can see the interior sides of the legs with undesirable grain.
Prep for prefinishing. Always prefinish.
Don't forget to apply kneepads to help with bruising from the clamps.
I knew my measurements were correct, but I had to see for myself that they were long enough.
I decided to go with miters on these corners. I feel like it's a more elegant look than using bridle joints.
Once I made my first cuts, I just started in one corner and worked around the table to make the fit. I did make a mistake here and made the frame slightly too big, which resulted in some small gaps in the corners because it was an exact fit to the legs. If I could go back, I'd undersize this another 1/4" or 3/16" to get it seamless.
Strike the line, cut to it.
These are big miters, kids will be sitting here. Time to domino these instead of a key or spline.
Marking the location. I had to guess a bit, because I didn't want them accidentally blowing through when cutting the bevel on the bottom.
Turned out alright!
I'm a convert to the miter block method for gluing up now. Works great, just hope you have pine on hand for the blocks.
Each of these is just a rub joint with some titebond II. I'll wait 24 hours for them to dry before we go.
The frame got glue on the mating surfaces and on the dominos.
This is what a normal corner glue up looks like.
You can see my one whoops corner, which is all my fault. I didn't check well enough for the corner alignment and this came back to bit me. I was working the clamps hard to close the gap that wouldn't go away and I ripped one of the blocks off. I caught it in time to try and salvage it with another clamp, but alas. Regrets. So many regrets.
No bandclamps needed here.
Once we're done, just whack the corner blocks off.
This is generally what you contend with.
The 'worst' of all the blocks. Nothing my block plane can't clean up.
SO MUCH REGRET.
Even with this straight grain, I'm such a failure. I'll end up using timbermate to fill this, I've had luck with it in the past.
Getting the interior liners trimmed to the right height was tedious, but only took about 3-4 adjustments to get it nailed in.
I hit all the outer edges with an 1/8" roundover since there will be lots of arms resting here.
Gluing on the liners to the top frame.
Never enough clamps.
Because I didn't undersize the top frame quite enough, it was finicky getting the end liners cut exactly right. Even giving myself some extra room, it was a bear getting it to fit.
Test fit looks acceptable! If you stand far away and squint, you can't tell anything is wrong!
Having a big vise on the bench really helps holding big awkward stuff like this to do finish sanding.
Working on sanding the bevels smooth.
Working out the saw marks from the undercut. This is almost there.
The top frame assembly is glued onto the plywood base via the liner.
Starting to look halfway decent!
I was originally going to have the whole interior be a build plate surface, but decided against it. The kids wanted some part of it to be smooth wood so they could build without things sticking down to the ground. They also have a few extra plates they can put in if they want more space.
(Not Pictured) coming up 4" short on material to compete the slats on the top. I had to run back to my lumber supplier for one lousy stick of cherry to get enough for the top. Just working out if order even matters here.
Taking multiple passes to cut the rabbet for the slats.
I really wouldn't mind some Festool for stuff like this. I hate the router.
Cleaning up the corners
3 of the corners went well. One had some frustrating grain to contend with.
It took me too long to realize my math mistake when I was doing the calculation for how wide each slat needed to be when doing shiplap.
Some of the shiplap needed some extra cleanup to sit flush with each other. Shoulder plane worked a treat.
Looks great, now it just needs some finger holes because it took me 30 minutes to get these slats out. :D
Now we get to my least favorite part. I had some tearout when cutting the rabbet, so I thought I'd be cool and try to patch it. But I was impatient and didn't want to set up my router.
I grabbed a piece of wood that looked like a good color match (SPOILERS: He was wrong)
Marked out the danger zone.
Cleaned it out with a chisel, I should have used a router here. I now realized I could have just done a chamfer along the whole inner ledge.
Patch looked good on the surface, so I glued it in.
Trimming it up with a block plane.
And right about now I'm realizing that the color was not so much of a match as it was a contrast. Look, let's not dwell on our mistakes.....lol.
We're in business!
Already being used for all kinds of adventures.