Introduction: Two-Tone Table
Made from a mixture of scrap and new lumber, this coffee table uses a DIY lamination method to create a solid surface from strips of wood without the need for heavy bar clamps. All of the strips are yellow pine except for one contrasting stripe of cedar running all the way through the structure. A series of strips runs 4" below the top surface as a brace and a shelf for magazines or laptops. Cover strips, with dowel plugs to cover the fasteners, make the edges smooth, concealing the thread rods that hold the strips together. It makes for a sleek but still very monolithic form.
It uses a method of construction first posted here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Scrap-Table/. That table uses a random assortment of scrap wood, which is certainly an option in this project as well; I opted to present the different material in a more organized way this time.
The materials can vary in cost, depending on how much you salvage and how much you buy new. I had a mixture of new 2" x 8"s (which I judged to be most cost-efficient dimension based on how many 1-1/14" strips I could get out of each board) and scrap 2" x 4"s and scrap cedar. Along with the threaded rods, sanding belts, polyurethane, new drill bits, screws, etc., the table cost about $50 and about 30 hours of time.
Thanks to Ramell Ross for the first five pictures. http://www.ramellross.com
You will need these materials:
Cardboard for template
4-6 2" x 8" x 8' yellow pine or equivalent
1 2" x 4" x 8' contrasting wood
1/2" x 24" pine dowel
7 1/2" dia. x 36" threaded rods
14 nuts and washers
2 lbs 2-1/2" drywall screws
60, 80 or 100, 120 grit sanding belts
polyurethane or varnish
You will need these tools:
Impact driver (optional but very helpful)
Hammer or mallet
Dremel or hacksaw
Orbital sander (optional)
Step 1: Templatin'
The basic design of this table is a shell in the shape of a shallow, inverted "U". To help visualize the finished form, make a full-size template out of corrugated cardboard or plastic. Big campaign signs work well. Measure with marker and cut it out with a box cutter.
This table is about 48" long at the shelf, 24" wide, and 17" tall. The legs cant outwards at about a 20o angle. The profile is a uniform 1-1/2" thick.
Fit your table to your space; it would look a little more graceful if it were longer than I made it.
Step 2: Rippin'
Use a table saw to render all your wood into 1-1/2" x 1-1/14" strips. Cut two or three strips at 1/2"-1" to use as the cover strips on the outside of the table. It helps straighten out the wood to cut the board to rough widths of about 1-5/8" and then take a blade off of each side with subsequent run-throughs. This gets the boards as uniform as possible. When working with generally poor-quality, construction-grade, or scrap material, there may be a lot of bowing and instability.
Make sure to make full use of all relevant safety equipment.
Step 3: Choppin'
Assemble your strips into a great big pile. Use your template to determine the lengths of the pieces and the angle of the relevant miters.
Chop saw the strips to the length, keeping in mind there will be two sets of alternating layers of wood: one will consist of three pieces, one top and two legs; the second will consist of six pieces, one top, one shelf, two filler strips, and two legs. Setting up a stop on your miter saw can save a lot of work when cutting multiple pieces at the same length. Clamp a block to the chop saw at the desired distance from the blade, then chock to the block with your material, chop, slide, chock, chop, etc.
Place your contrasting stripe somewhere in this scheme to maximum effect. Cut six cover pieces for the outside edges, mitering them at the leg-top joint.
Step 4: Drillin'
Locate the centers of all your joints in the template and drill a hole there. Mark all your pieces and drill a hole with a 5/8" spade bit. Counterbore six outer pieces so the nuts can be countersunk later. A drill press would be a huge help here. The accuracy and straightness of the holes here will make it much easier to assemble later.
Step 5: Laminatin'
Starting with the counter-bored outer strips, begin to build the table up, one set of strips at a time, using clamps and the threaded rods to encourage alignment. Smear each strip generously with wood glue and screw to the previous set with drywall screws. Do not set in the shelf pieces yet; just use them for alignment, without gluing in place. If using an impact driver, drive the screw in a little, then back out, then in some more, then drive down to prevent the wood from splitting. Impact drivers are good because they draw the wood tight if bowed. If using a power drill, I would recommend pre-drilling to prevent splitting.
Assemble the table in two halves, leaving the shelf pieces out. Push the threaded rods through one half, smear the joint with a lot (a lot a lot) of glue, and drop the second half onto it. Hammer them together with a hammer and a block or a mallet. Use two ratchets crank the threaded rods to force the sides together. Apply ratchet straps if needed. Allow to dry overnight.
Step 6: Finishin'
Put scraps and shims in any cracks that refuse to close, add generous amounts of glue, and let dry. Flush out more minor imperfections with a mixture of sawdust and glue.
Sand the hell out of the "U" with 60 grit, then 80 or 100, then 120 grit sandpaper and a belt sander. Use the belt sander and aggressive grits to flush the pieces to one another, then higher grits and an orbital sander to get it smooth. The shelf pieces have been so far left out so the bottom of the "U" can be sanded. Wear appropriate dust and noise protection when sanding.
Sand the shelf pieces and slide them through. Run a drill bit through the holes to get everything to line up, if need be. Add threaded rods and tighten up the shelf joint.
Pilot-drill and counterbore with 1/2" holes in a zig-zag pattern on the six mitered cover pieces. Glue and screw into place to cover the exposed ends of the threaded rods. Fill the holes with little dowel plugs, leaving them proud of the finish surface so they can be sanded flush.
Sand again. And again. And a lot more. Wipe with a damp cloth and hand-run with your favored finish. I went with several coats of a basic semi-gloss polyurethane; this sort of table would respond great to some tung oil, mineral oil, or other penetrating sealer. Put a couple extra coats on top and on the feet, sanding with 120 grit sandpaper in between coats. Wax if desired.
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