Introduction: Bowtied Coffee Table

About: I like to dabble in a bit of everything: woodworking, metalworking, sewing, electronics.

A good friend of mine recently moved and needed a coffee table for their new apartment. So I guess it's time to build a coffee table!

Step 1: Lumber

This table is mainly built out of 2x10's. I picked through what the store had to find the boards with the straightest grain. I first used my circular saw to cut them to rough length, then I used my table saw to remove the round-over from the edges. I ripped the boards, cutting out the middle section of heartwood to help mitigate cupping and warping down the road, a tip I got from a Johnny Brooke video.

I used boards with the straightest and most consistent grain for the table top, and the rest for the less visible bottom shelf.

Step 2: Tabletop Glue-up

Instead of using biscuits or dominoes to align the boards, I thought it would look cool to run 3/4" oak dowels all the way through. To do this, I measured, marked, and drilled my holes on all the boards. There were some issues getting everything aligned perfectly, so I cheated and drilled the holes one size larger on the interior boards, leaving the outside boards with a very snug fit.

This process ended up being a bit more fuss than I had anticipated, so for the bottom shelf I cheated even more, and used biscuits. I then drilled in from the outside about 6" deep or so, and put in dowels so they would match the top and look like they ran all the way through.

Step 3: Adding Bowties

There were a few places where the seam wasn't quite as clean as I would have liked, and I thought there might eventually be some issues with delamination. I thought this would be a perfect excuse to practice my chisel work and install some bow tie splines.

Instead of using a router and template, I cut my bow ties with the band saw, then traced them where I wanted them. I used a couple forstner bits to hog out the majority of the material, then some sharp chisels to sneak up on my line until I had a snug fit. Once glued in place, I trimmed the tops flush with my Japanese pull saw.

Step 4: Clean-up

To cut everything to it's final width, I first cut the dowels flush on one side and ran it over the jointer. Then once I had a nice flat reverence edge, I ran it over the table saw to cut the other side.

I used a long bench plane and a belt sander to smooth the top and remove any height or thickness discrepancies between any of the individual boards.

Step 5: Gluing Up the Sides and Cutting Top to Length

At this point I started on the sides, which would be twice as thick as the top. I cut my pieces a little oversize, so I could trim them flush after the glue-up.

While I was waiting for the glue to dry, I used a straightedge and a circular saw to cut the top and bottom pieces to their final lengths.

Step 6: Assembly

Nothing fancy here, just butt joints. I planned on putting dowels in later, so I marked and drilled my holes about 1/4" deep, then used screws to hold everything together while the glue dried.

Step 7: More Bowties

I decided to put some of the same bow tie splines in the sides' end-grain to help prevent delamination. I also ran some screws in from the inside, and plugged the screw heads with dowels.

Step 8: More Dowels

The next day after the glue dried, I zipped out the screws holding the top to the sides, and drilled out the holes the rest of the way. I then drove in 3/4" oak dowels.

Step 9: Staining and Sealing

I used a steel wool and vinegar stain. I made sure to use oak for all of the dowels and bow tie splines, because this stain causes oak to get much darker than the pine I used for the rest of the build, creating a nice contrast. I kept applying it until the oak turned black, which took three coats. I did the same to these short tapered legs I found at Lowe's.

I sealed everything with several coats of polyurethane, gently sanding with 400 grit between applications.

Step 10: Finished!

And that's about it. Here are a few glamour shots I took before giving it to my friend.

Step 11: More Glamor Shots

View this project on Instagram.

This project was completed on July 2, 2018.