Here, I want to share a table I designed and built that is quite useful and attractive. I hope this will inspire you to make something similar.
This was the first piece of furniture I ever built and enjoyed the process. I completed this project while in design school when I had access to lots of machinery and a full wood shop. I don't have many of the tools you really needed to build this now, hence why it would be great to win!
I will explain how I built this table with the tools I had at the time but also give optional fabrication techniques / alternate materials that may be more readily available to you; for instance making the tray for the magazines out of wood instead of plastic.
Step 1: Design Process
Below I have included some of my original sketches and ideas which lead up to this table. Feel free to use one of these ideas or let them inspire some new ones. Either way, you can follow the steps I have to build this table.
Step 2: Orthographic & Materials List
To make your fine furniture you want to use hardwood. When one refers to hardwood they are talking about wood that is harvested from deciduous trees (ex: maple, oak, walnut, etc.) When purchasing raw hardwood you we will be purchasing it by theboard foot.The example below is how to figure out board feet.
1 Board Foot: a measurement equal to 1 foot long, 1 foot wide and 1 inch thick or 144 cubic inches. For example, 1 board foot could also be equal to a piece of wood 10inches long, 8 inches wide and 1 3/4" thick which is also 144" cubic inches.
As you figure out how much board feet you need you will also be deciding how you will extract your pieces/parts from the lumber. For example, the legs of the table are 3x 3. The cherry boards I bought were only 2.5 inches thick. Since you must estimate for waste in the process of dressingthe lumber, be prepared to have extra material.
As I mentioned, the cherry boards where 2.5inches thick. So I estimated to have 2inches in usable thickness after preparing the lumber, therefore I will need another 1inch thick board in order to get my 3x 3leg. And this would be necessary for each leg. This would amount to 6 pieces from the rough lumber at 2.5inches thick.
The overall table is 20inches wide by 36inches long and stands 20inches tall. The table top is made of Quilted Maple and the under carriage is made of fine Vermont Cherry. I must say the wood I bought for this was as good as you can buy. And I definitely paid a high price for it. I over bought in both types of wood because I wanted to have enough wood and possibly build two matching side tables. I bought a 12 foot long board of the maple that was 22inches wide and paid $112. The cherry was very costly (but the finest you can get). I bought 2 boards that were 10 foot long, 10inches wide and 2.5inches thick and paid about $360 or so, but the natural beauty of the wood shows.
Quilted Maple - Quarter sawn
Vermont Cherry - fine (very few to no knots) - Quarter sawn
Plastic - 1 sheet of Spectar- a copolymer plastic (more elastic and stronger than acrylic) for magazine tray
MDF - for mold
Bondo - for mold
4 wood table top anchors
4 small wood screws
1 can of natural oil polish & rags
Tools: - most steps were not done with power hand tools but machinery in a wood workshop.
Radial arm saw
Milling machine (could use router)
Clamps - large 4 foot clamps & smaller ones
Sandpaper (Lots of it!)
Step 3: Step 1: Cut Your Wood Up
First, cut all of your large lumber into the general size you need for each piece of lumber, leaving extra for waste that will occur from cutting or planing and jointing your lumber.
For example, I cut the legs into 2.5" x 2.5"x 22"; remember, you will be adding another board later to get your 3 inch thickness (final size of legs: 3" x 3" x 20"). Do this for all your other pieces as well.
Step 4: Step 2: Dressing Your Rough Lumber
Once your sides are joined you can put your lumber lengthwise through a planar to dress the face of your boards. Once this is all done you have lumber which is dressed smooth on all sides and faces.
Step 5: Step 3: Glue Up the Legs & Table Top
Step 6: Step 4: Cut the Undercarriage Pieces to Size
Cut your angles on your legs and the apron on the bandsaw. Mark all your cut lines on your pieces (measure twice and cut once). Then cut them out. On a bandsaw it helps to keep your eye about 1 inch in front of the blade on your cut line as you feed the piece through the blade. You will have a straighter cut this way; looking at the blade causes you to be reactionary and causes more errors, so keep your eye on the cut line.
Once your pieces are cut, sand them with rough sandpaper.
Step 7: Step 5: Mortise All the Undercarriage Pieces
Step 8: Step 6: Make Final Angle Cuts on the Undercarriage Pieces
Now you have all your pieces for the undercarriage ready for a dry fit assembly. Take all your aprons, stringers and legs and assemble them to make sure everything lines up and is tight.
Step 9: Step 7: Plane the Table Top
Step 10: Step 8: Router the Table Top
I double stick taped the table top on a piece of MDF and mounted it to the bed of the milling machine. Then I routered out the top in small increments to get the right depth of 3/8" for the plastic tray.
Step 11: Step 9: Build Mold for Tray
I made two halves so it would be easier to cut on the band saw. Making this angled cut would be hard and dangerous (making a jig would be another option). Then I drew the profile pattern of the tray on the pieces. I cut out each piece on the bandsaw using this line.
Finally, glue these two pieces together, after set up you want to smooth the piece. Any imperfections will be seen in the plastic tray. I smoothed it with an orbital sander. Apply bondo, and sand smooth following the bondo instructions. Use different colors of bondo to help you see any imperfections or uneven areas. It takes time but is worth it to have a smooth part.
The triangular mold sits on a flat sheet of MDF. Drill small holes every 2 inches or so to allow the vacuum to suck down on the part. A 1/8" drill bit is good, too large of a hole will cause the plastic to create divits as the vacuum will pull it into the hole. The smaller bits allow for suction without imperfections in the plastic.
Step 12: Step 10: Vacuum Form Tray
Take the mold and place it in the vacuum former and lower the bed. Then you clamp the plastic sheet on the frame (spectar 1/4" thick sheet). Then you heat the plastic. It will take a a few minutes on high, but with this mold being so tall I needed to thoroughly heat it to allow it to properly stretch. Unclamp the plastic and flip it to expose the cooler bottom plastic. Then heat this side to get an even elasticity.
Once it heats, the plastic will drop about 10 to 12 inches, then it is ready to be vacuum formed for this mold. Remove the heaters and pull up the bed with the mold while turning on the vacuum at the same time.
Step 13: Step 11: Make Final Cuts for Plastic Tray
Cut your piece out and sand your edges.
Note: if you have any shallow scratches on your plastic use a small torch to remove them, just quickly move your flame over them and they will disappear.
Step 14: Step 12: Glue Up the Undercarriage
Step 15: Step 13: Attach the Table Top
Step 16: Step 14: Apply Varnish
Step 17: Step 15: Insert Tray and Enjoy!
This is an excellent design that really is usable. An alternative to using plastic would be making the piece out of wood with a slightly different design. Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck!