Introduction: Boomerang Table
Have you ever seen a Boomerang Table? Me neither, but I always wanted one. Beyond the embrace of a surrounding workstation, they have a wonderful retro-modern style. With a new computer coming, this was the time to fling myself into a challenging project.
Step 1: Fretting Over the Design
I wanted a huge, sturdy, useful desk; but also a piece of furniture that looked like it could fly. It had to support 4 feet of monitors and all the other stuff I like to keep handy. I pondered and sketched for most of a year, and learned a few things. Continuous curvature, big radii, and trim wings are essential to the elegance of this style. (Too many Boomerangs have big ugly bellies.) An asymmetrical design was appealing and also fit my space well. Under-beveling the edges could provide an illusion of impossible thinness. And then one day it hit me: I could squeak exactly the surface I wanted from a continuous sheet of plywood. Relieved from the distress of airtight surface joinery, I ran right out to Lowe's for two sheets of half inch Blondewood.
The back edges run straight toward a right angle, but blend into a 24 inch radius. The wings flare from 16 inch circles at the ends to a depth of 24 inches at the center. The wings extend about 5½ by 6½ feet, but nothing can get more than 3 feet way. It keeps my stuff easy to get and hard to clutter.
Step 2: Scaling Up
The new iMac came packed in nearly 30 square feet of cardboard. Perfect. I taped it together, struck my arcs, and cut a full-sized template for the win. With no corners to reference, this was essential to accurately transfer a precise design into a real piece of furniture.
Step 3: Cutting the Layers
There is nothing like a full-scale model to inspire confidence, but I was facing 100 feet of jigsawing. So I used a course blade for speed and left some margin for tear out. Picking the best of the 4 surfaces, I cut it to the pattern. Then the second sheet was traced and cut an inch shy all around for the bottom layer. Then I pieced together the scrap for a middle layer. That was cut to the same size as the top.
Step 4: Lamination
Welp, that bottle of glue disappeared fast. I stuck the pieces of the middle layer under the bottom layer and held them together with 40+ ¾ inch screws. When solid, I glued that on top of the top layer — everything upside down — and replaced the ¾ screws with a 1¼ inch variety. This left me with a step all around the edge, which I hoped would relieve some of the effort needed to cut the under-bevel.
Step 5: Beveling My Brains
I considered making a jig for planning or routing the bevel, but the problem of wobble and bridging around the inside radius was overwhelming. Plus, this surface barely shows. So with brutal 36 grit, I donned ear plugs, goggles, and dust masks to sculpt the edge surfaces with a belt sander. It was a hellacious afternoon. I made gallons of sawdust. The cleanup was real. But I was able to utilize a few pinches with glue to fill voids in the plies.
Step 6: Finishing
I bought sample jars of yellowy paints to disguise the plywood edges. The bevel is dark to help make it disappear. I rough mixed that color with a very light yellow to produce a variegated edge band that matched the veneer surface. Layer after layer, sanding in between; so much fun. But then the plies start to disappear. The top has 8 applications of polyurethane for a smooth writing surface.
Step 7: Those Legs
I bought these welded wire legs at Amazon and have had them quite a while. The vendor is Spiral Cone Legs. It is gratifying to see them attached to something more useful than an inspiration. They are incredibly strong, but have no visual mass. I spray painted them shiny silver, because I could not bear to let them disappear.
After piloting ¼ inch holes, I wrenched the legs down with 1 inch lag screws. Figuring the best spots for the legs was a puzzle. I simulated different configurations on the workbench by placing blocks under the table top. The solution: It doesn't matter much. The project would have worked with only 3 legs.
Step 8: Jetson's Gestalt
The sum of the parts is more than a cliché here. The stability, rigidity, and deep resonance are typical of tables twice as big and triple the mass. Sitting on the edge feels like concrete. The bonded core of plywood, stiff legs, and the wide rugged connectors work together with the boomerang shape in an extraordinary way. The wings behave like outriggers, while center area under the highest bending moment is cut away. With the visual mass whittled down to virtually nothing, this structural performance becomes magical. It looks like a half inch of plywood spanned over 6 feet but it will not move. It's fun being able to reach everything too.
Cheers from Sarasota