Boomerang Table





Introduction: Boomerang Table

About: retired chemist trying to stay out of trouble

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



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    13 Discussions


    2 years ago

    The table top and the legs are wonderful together. Definitely looks like something Rosie would have dusted..............

    This table is super! Thanks for detailing the build.

    Too bad this instructable was not around when I was designing my own PC desk...

    It's pretty much the same but edgier...

    I think you got the curves just right. It lends itself to Scan-design, modern or mid-century. It looks very high-end. I'm thinking a smaller version with hairpin legs would make a nice end table in my mid-century modern space. Thanks for sharing

    1 reply

    I appreciate you interest and generous comments.

    I always enjoyed visits to well preserved mid-century modern homes. It continues to make we wonder why so many people have reverted to colonial and primitive styles in furniture Perhaps the expansion of aeronautics and the dawn of space travel put an undue emphasis on lower mass in consumer products at the time. Maybe people grew weary of unsatisfying tactile qualities or durability problems in light things, and then demanded heavier, rugged-looking stuff. My solution was hiding most of the mass with under beveling. It's impossible to believe this table weighs 150 pounds and feels like 300, because most of it is invisible.

    I made those legs, Thank you for both buying our table legs and for including them in your instructable. The table looks great, and I particular like the fact that you don't let the lack of a truck keep you from getting home with the building materials.

    1 reply

    It's a great pleasure to make your acquaintance and express my gratitude. Your legs are more than an inspiration for this project: They will be serving me for the rest of my life. How do you put a price on that? Even if everything else burns, the spiral cones can be dusted off and reused.

    The legs look perfect for the idea of the boomerang. And they look springy. Sounds like all that thinking and planning really paid off. It looks really good! I'd probably never make something like this, but would you consider making the boomerang design template available?

    1 reply

    Thanks for a thought-provoking comment. Until a month ago, I probably wasn't ever going to make something like this either. I had those legs hanging around for 20 months.

    I would be delighted to hear about someone copying my complete design or any elements of it. That's why I included both the original scaled drawing and a quantitative narrative of how it was derived. But it would be even better if someone came by and took the cardboard template off my hands. Unfortunately the island natives are better known for fishing and drinking than industrial arts.

    Also, this design is personalized for my work and living space. You should view it cum grano salis. A symmetrical shape would suit more people. And if one wing is restricted to 4 feet or less, a very similar project could be rendered from a single sheet of plywood.


    2 years ago

    That is a bad a$$ desk! Nice project for sure.

    1 reply

    I appreciate your enthusiastic compliment. Yes, I tried to be conscious of the project and the product. It's great when they both work, and that is when we need to write about it.

    Thank you for the kindness. You know, depending on the lighting and viewing position, it changes shape dramatically but never looks bad.