Introduction: Redwood Coffee Table
This instructable will teach you how to make a end-grain redwood coffee table with steel legs. The steps provided will be applicable for re-creating the above table, but can also serve as a template to let you customize and make your own design.
Step 1: Buying & Cutting the Wood
At my local hardware store they sell lots of wood beams. These beams come in many different sizes and wood-types. When selecting a wood to purchase - I took a look at the color of the wood as well as how the end-grains looked. I found a redwood that I thought was particular beautiful and came in beams that were sized: 1"1/2 x 5"1/2 x 108". I bought several beams and cut them into 3 inch blocks. Each brick or "block" was 3" x 1"1/2 x 5"1/2. I cut about 250 of these from the beams I purchased.
Step 2: Gluing the Wood
I placed the wood bricks on my floor to figure out how big I wanted the surface to be in relation to my sofa. Once decided I began gluing bricks together by clamping them with wood clamps and ribbon cables. It was a slow tedious process to glue each brick together. Since I only own about 8 wood clamps and one ribbon cable - I glued 3-5 bricks together every day. Waiting one day between each new gluing session. I started gluing from the center and moved outward (in a diamond formation), to ensure each wood piece could be as close together as possible. Gluing rows wouldn't work since they not be perfectly flat and thus would cause larger gaps in the tables surface. The brand of glue I used was Titebond III - Ultimate Wood Glue.
Step 3: Planning and Sanding Wood
After the gluing process - each wood brick wasn't perfectly even on the surface and backside of the table top. In order to get a smoother table surface - I rented a handheld electric planer and sander. When planing end grains you have to be very careful near the edges of your material. If you plane all the way to the edge you'll chip your wood. Due to this - I didn't plane all the way to the ends of the table. Instead - I just planed the inner area and sanded heavily near the edges.
Planing wood also creates little bumps on the end-grains surface. In order to smooth this out - I took a handheld sander and sanded the surface (starting with the highest grit sandpaper and slowly going down to finer grains). At the end I had a surface that was fairly smooth. Then I took the edges off the table with a band saw to create even edges.
Step 4: Oil and Waxing Wood
I used Tung oil on the surface. I used two coats waiting a day between each coat. The Tung oil darkened the redwood without any stain needed. After letting the oil dry, I added wax (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000LNOZAW/ref=pe_385040_30332190_TE_M3T1_ST1_dp_1) to the surface in order to protect the wood. I originally tried to wax it by hand, but realized that it required a lot of buffing in order to get a glossy look. For this, I bought a bit that I could attach to my drill to buff it out.
Step 5: Buying & Cutting Metal
Steel for the legs were purchased from McMasterCar: http://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/120/3690/=sfd75k - the Low-Carbon Steel Square Tube, 1" W, 1" H, .120" Wall Thickness, 6' Length (product #: 6527K31). I used a metal chop-saw to cut it at 45 and 90 degree angles. Each cube was 16"x14"x16"
Step 6: Welding, Grinding, and Powder Coating Wood
I used a MIG welder to join the metal pieces. I used grinder to then smooth out my ugly welding job. Lastly - I brought the cubes to a powder coating facility near my house and had them coated for $40.
Step 7: Voila!
And with that - I put the wood on top and had my coffee table. The wood is about 90lb's so it wasn't necessary to fasten it to the legs. I also put some adhesive fabric on the bottom of the metal legs in order to not scratch my floors.