Introduction: Hardwood Table With Laser Cut Inlay
To make this table you would ideally need an array of hardwood ( 800 x 150mm) + , 2x sheets of aeroplane plywood (you choose the size of inlay), strips of hardwood for beading, bandsaw, circular saw, hand sander, tenon saw, files, wood glue, low grit sand paper, sash clamps & g-clamps, wood vice and access to a laser cutter and some skill in using CADCAM.
Firstly, I arranged the hardwood slats so that I was happy with how the colours work together. I then cut them down so I had enough to make the bulk of the frame. I used a dropped down circular saw to create a recess that the plywood would later sit in.
I used a tenon saw to cut half joints on the edges and used 4 sash clamps to glue the main frame together, always leave wood glue to dry for around 6 - 10 hours.
Next I added extra lengths of hardwood as beading on the edges, the thin strips of wood on the sides.
At this stage you will need to either design a pattern for the laser cutter using CAD, i.e. adobe illustrator, or design something you can create by hand, different colour squares cut on the bandsaw? laser cut your design and keep all the pieces. I have included my adobe illustrator (cs5) file that you can use.
Using the measurements of the frame I laser cut the ply inlay and checked that it fitted, remember to keep all the pieces, we will need those for spraying later.
Next I either varnished (x3 fine layers) the pieces for wood shades or primed and enamelled the the blue and yellow pieces, using spray paint, so they can be stuck into the ply frame. You will also need to cut a back piece from the rest of the ply to so there is layer behind to attach them too. I used weights to weigh the frame down whilst gluing the ply inserts, be careful not apply to much glue or it will spread and make a mess when weights are placed on it.
When your happy with the frame and the ply inlay you may glue into place using wood glue, pine batons and g-clamps, be careful not clamp the frame as it could damage it.
To make the legs I first measured and cut a frame to fit underneath around 100mm from the edges, I used recycled floorboards for the legs.
I cut slats, 2 for each leg, and beaded the two outside edges of the legs. use g-clamps or a wood vice for this. Then I attached to slats together to form on leg and repeated for all the legs. I used sash and g-clamps for this.
When the legs are finished you can attach them to the frame using sash and g-clamps. When they are dry you can then attach them to base of the table frame. You may need to use a jack plane to flatten the bottom side if it is uneven, this happened to me!
With the table 'finished' you will need to hand sand all the hard wood and legs using a hand sander, not the plywood, the ply should be masked over with tape to prevent you sanding the pieces, this could ruin the table if you sand off the all sprayed inlayed plywood.
When your happy with the finish you can then lightly sand the wood with a fine paper and then rub it down with a damp cloth. When this has dried apply a fine layer of matt varnish, allow to dry and lightly sand the wood again. This should be repeated 2-3 times and include the plywood. Try and apply the varnish fairly quickly so that the spread across the wood is even.
Once the whole table is varnished you could wax the table 2-3 times for protection and for the attractive shimmer. the wax takes many weeks to soak in properly but will extend the life of the table, you can re apply wax every six months.