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Walnut Coffee Table

author-gravatar GotClamps Jan 15, 2016

    This is a walnut coffee table I built as a Christmas present for my parents. It is my first large project, my first walnut/hardwood project, and my first indoor furniture project.
    This is project will also be submitted for /r/Woodworking's 2015 Year in Review Challenge. 2015 was the year I started woodworking. This project was the last project of 2015 that I completed.
    I built a letter holder as my first project in April. It looks terrible. There is glue sticking through the finish, poor joinery, and I only had a cheap stanley miter box, a few F-clamps, a block plane, and a mini fridge to use as a workbench, but it opened my eyes to the beauty and fun of the craft. My wife and I still use the letter opener to this day as a reminder of my humble beginnings.
    I did not build anything for a while, then in August, I built an adirondack set for a friend of mine.I learned many new techniques in this project, including: filling knots with epoxy, gluing up and flattening the top by hand, using a making and using a drawing batten, card scraper, tuning up and using a spokeshave, using a pocket hole jig, using BLO and wipe on poly,  and how to take down the "plasticky" look of the wipe on poly and applying furniture wax. My only regret with this build is that I could not use mortise and tenons. I practiced cutting some by hand, and I just did not feel comfortable enough incorporating them into this project. I hope you enjoy looking at my build. There were many lessons learned along the way! While I have much to learn, I feel that I also have learned a lot in my short time woodworking.I look forward to learning more form this community at SimpleCove! Thank you for looking!

P.S- Sorry for the poor quality build photos and only a few of them. I took a ton of photos in the start of this project, and then I went through a camera crisis. I was left with only the pictures in this album, which are unfortunately of poor quality. One of these days I'll get a dedicated shop camera. 

There are a lot of photos that got left out of the process before this point- panel glue up, laminations, drawing out curves, finessing curves, etc. Here are the top, shelf, legs, and stretchers roughed out. The top took the longest. I learned all about the dreaded cupping that happens when clamping up table tops. I certainly got some flattening, smoothing, and scraping practice on it. The legs were by far the most tedious- they are 3 pieces of laminated 4/4 stock, and exceeded the width of my jigsaw blade, and my poor excuse for a band saw had no chance of cutting them- it came to a grinding halt when I tried. Thus, I was limited to using a coping saw to cut them out since I don't have a bow saw. 

This project was my first time using one of these. Definitely do not work straight out of the box (which I was already expecting), however, after some tuning up, it worked like a dream! (I also learned about the importance of when to use a flat spokeshave and when to use a round spokeshave.)

Here you can see due to my poor tooling choices and also my skill set, I had a mess to fix. I had all sorts of divots and tear out on this leg. I fixed it with a mixture of epoxy and sawdust. However, I realized later on that there are better ways to fix this sort of problem. This took a TON of sanding and scraping to get leveled out. Lessons learned. 

Here I have my parts sitting during the sanding process. You can see my poor excuse for a miter saw station under all that mess. You can also see my mess scraps from failed cutting board ideas, a failed picture frame, assorted barn wood, and who-knows-what else. That pile has gotten significantly better since this photo was taken. Making a shop is definitely a growing process. 

Here is the base assembled. Going back on this design, it definitely was not the sturdiest approach I could have taken. What Isn't shown here is that I made some cleats to go on the top inside portions of the legs. I used expanded holes in those cleats to attach the top and also allow for wood movement. Attaching the top definitely improved the sturdiness of the finished piece. 

Here is the assembled table, mid finishing. I noticed some defects I missed when I had scraped and sanded the top. I did my best to fix them, however they are still apparent when you look at the right angle. Notice the beautiful North Dakota weather in the background! It was a sunny 50 degrees this day! Yes my shop is properly insulated and lightly heated to prevent glue and finish issues. I couldn't resist opening the door because it was so warm out for being December!

Here is the table still in the process of finishing. 

2 comments

Great looking coffee table! I love the finish, walnut looks great. Thanks for signing up and sharing here on SimpleCove! I hope to see more of your work.

Thank you, Sean! I'm hoping to make many more entries in 2016.  I love Walnut as well. This was my first time using it. 

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