Introduction: Castle Coffee Table
A few years ago, I made this castle coffee table for my high school shop class project. I wanted to make a challenging project as well as something that I would enjoy for years. I've always loved the Medieval Ages with the fascinating armor, weapons, and, of course, castles. I searched the internet for plans but didn't find any, so I made my own using CAD.
I personally am not an expert in a wood shop (this was my second woodworking project, the first being a wall shelf), so I did work a lot with my shop teacher in making this project. If you are relatively new to woodworking and would like to try this project, I would encourage you to, but I also would recommend if possible to find a friend or family member who is more experienced who can help you learn. That being said, if you're dedicated to learning and really would like to build this project, go for it, but remember to be safe.
Be warned: this project requires a ridiculous amount of sanding. I had a lot of help from friends in my class who were waiting for our teacher's help on their project or waiting for glue to dry, which helped me out a lot.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Nail gun (and nails)
Table saw (with cross-cut sled)
Wide Belt Sander (this might not be the official name, but it's like a planer but for sanding)
Wood - I used approximately 25 board feet of cherry, not including any wasted material. I bought the wood through my school for about $120. A list of the wood pieces with their dimensions are given below.
Plywood (matching the wood), size: approximately 20" x 30"
Screws for plywood
Wood Pieces Needed - these dimensions are also listed under the later steps where they will be used. I gathered them all here if you would like to use the full list for planning. Note: all of these pieces say 1" thick (or bigger) since that is what was available to me. The actual thickness that the boards were planed down to are given in each step.
Table legs (x 4): 5” x 5” x 20”
Front tower main: 7.375”x 8.5”x 1.7”
Front of front tower (x 2): 8.5”x 2.125”x 1”
Side Towers (x 2): 11" x 2.5” x 1.5”
Back Tower: 8.5" x 3.75” x 1.5”
Front Tower extension: 7.375” x 1.5” x 1”
Back Tower extension: 3.75” x 1.5” x 1”
Side Tower Extensions (x 2): 2.5” x 4”x 1”
Tower bases: 30" x 3" x 2.5"
Front of front tower base: 8" x 3" x 1"
Top of front tower: 9" x 3" x 1"
Top of front pieces of front tower (x 2): 3" x 1" x 1"
Tow of back tower: 4" x 3" x 1"
Outer long walls (x 2): 11” x 27” x 1”
Outer short walls (x 2): 11” x 21” x 1”
Inner long walls (x 2): 11” x 25” x 1”
Inner short walls (x 2): 11” x 19” x 1”
Long walkway pieces (x 2): 25” x 2” x 1”
Short walkway pieces (x 2): 15” x 2” x 1”
Long wall support pieces (x 2): 22" x 2" x 1"
Short wall support pieces (x 2): 12" x 2" x 1"
Step 2: The Design
I drew up my plan for the coffee table in Solidworks to provide measurements for the project. The complete dimensions are in the drawings shown in the pictures. I will provide the key dimensions I based my projected on in each step; however, I made this design entirely based on what I thought looked good, and I would encourage anyone else to draw their own design to fit what they want. The numbers given on the drawings were later changed to fit standard English units, so I could easily measure the pieces using my tape measure, so use your best judgement to determine which measurements will work best for you.
Names - Below are a few terms I will use throughout this Instructable. I have listed below what I mean by them to avoid confusion.
Turrets - the round posts that make the table legs
Crenelations - the bumps on the walls and towers (made by cutting out a portion of the piece)
Towers - the decorative posts that are in the middle of the walls
Step 3: General Woodworking Comments
Preparing Wood Pieces
In the following steps, I listed the dimensions of what pieces need to be made. Rather than listing the steps for preparing these pieces in each step, I am only writing a generic section here.
Gather enough wood to make the required pieces. Plane the boards until they are flat on both sides. If the boards aren't thick enough to make a piece, glue multiple together. Then joint the boards so they are flat on one side. When gluing boards together, tighten the clamps so the wood is pressed together, but not more since this can bow the wood. Wipe off extra glue off any finished surface with a wet paper towel so you don't need to sand as much.
After the glue has dried, use the miter saw (or table saw with a cross cut sled) to cut the piece to the correct length (against the grain), and use the table saw to cut it to the correct length (with the grain). Do not use the table saw to cut against the grain (unless you use a cross cut sled) Then use the belt sander to sand the piece down to the final thickness, and sand it with a disk sander with about 200 grit sand paper to give the surface a smooth finish.
Step 4: The Turrets
Turrets (x 4): 20" x 5" x 5"
Use the planer to plane the posts until they are square. Since this will require the planer to be open very far, be especially careful to keep your fingers out of the gap to avoid getting cut. Next, cut the ends of the posts on the miter saw, so that they are square and even and so the piece is 18" long. Draw diagonal lines between the corners on the ends of the posts and mark the intersection with an awl. This point is the center of the block and will be used for placing the block in the lathe.
Place one of the posts into the lathe. Since it is a very large block of wood, make sure the lathe is on its slowest setting. Then turn the post down until it is a cylinder. Once it has been turned, mark out the critical dimensions using a pencil (measure out the distance when the lathe is off, and then turn the lathe on and press the pencil into the spot to make it more clear). Using these reference marks, turn the piece down to the rough shape. As the piece gets closer to the final dimensions, go more slowly and check its diameter often. Since these are large pieces of wood, my caliper did not have deep enough jaws to measure the diameter, so I used the tool shown in the pictures, but there are many other ways you could measure it.
Repeat this for the other 3 posts, trying to match them as closely as possible to each other. It's not critical that they are exactly the same since the posts will not be right next to each other. Just do your best.
Use a router with a 1/2" bit to cut two slots in each of the posts. These will be used to hold the walls, so they need to be 90 degrees apart. I estimate that these slots were 1/2" deep; however, I do not remember this step very well.
The hole in the top was drilled using the drill press. The table would not lower far enough to hold the turrets, so I built a simple table out of 2x4's and plywood that we clamped the turrets to while drilling.
Step 5: Towers
Front Tower - main section: 7.375" x 8.5" x 1.7"
Front Tower - front pieces (x 2): 8.5" x 2.125" x 1"
Back tower - main section: 8.5" x 3.75" x 1.5"
Side towers - main section (x 2): 11" x 2.5" x 1.5"
Mark out where the two front pieces will go on the main section of the turret and sketch out where the door will go using faint pencil lines.
Use the mill to cut out the doorway. Alternatively, you could drill a 1" hole at the top of the doorway, and the cut of the rest of the door using a hand saw. A third option would be to carefully chisel out the door.
Step 6: Tower Extensions
Back Tower extension: 3.75” x 1.5” x 1”
Front Tower Extension: 7.375" x 1.5" x 1"
Side Tower Extension (x 2): 2.5" x 4" x 1"
Line these pieces up with the top and sides of the main tower pieces and glue them together. After the glue dries, sand them to make the edges more even. These extensions will extend the towers over the walkways.
Step 7: Tower Bases and Tops
Front tower base: 10”x 3” x 2.5"
Front of front tower base: 8" x 3" x 1"
Back tower base: 4.5" x 3" x 2.5"
Side tower base (x 2): 3.5" x 3" x 2.5"
Front Tower - top: 9" x 3" x 1"
Front Tower - front pieces' top (x 2): 3" x 1" x 1"
Back Tower - top: 4" x 2" x 1"
Note: it is easier to make the four bases out of the same piece of wood, which would need to be approximately 2.5" x 3" x 30"
Using the table saw, cut a 99 degree angle on one of the long sides of the post, so that the cross section of the board is a trapezoid with bases 2.5" and 2.17" long and a height of 3".
Use the miter saw to cut a 99 degree angle on one end of the post. Measure out the width of the base of a post and cut another 99 degree angle. Note: Since this angle is going the other direction, the miter saw needs to be set to a 81 degree angle (180 - 99 = 81). Repeat this for the other 3 bases. Sand these pieces with the disk sander.
To finish the front piece of the front tower's base, cut the same angle on both sides (either 81 or 99 deg) using the table saw, so that it is a parallelogram. When these cuts have been made, if you place the piece against the sloped part of the base (like when the tower is assembled), the tops and bottoms should be flush.
For the tops of the front and back towers, cut a 30 degree angle around all four edges. As you cut the angles, compare the lengths and widths to the other pieces, to make sure they line up. After sanding, glue and nail these pieces on top of their towers.
Step 8: The Walls
Pieces - Note: the grain is parallel to the short side, not the long side
Long outer wall: 25" x 11" x 1/2"
Short outer wall: 21" x 11" x 1/2"
Long inner wall: 17" x 11" x 1/2"
Short inner wall: 19" x 11" x 1/2"
Glue most of the boards together to form the walls while keeping them short enough to fit through the sander with the sander moving with the grain. The sander I used was about 24", so each of the longer sections of walls I kept as two separate pieces during this stage. When gluing the two sections together, be careful to keep them flush with each other. Then once the sections have been glued together, and cut to size, finish the sanding with the disk sander.
Step 9: Making the Crenelations
To cut the crenelations on the walls and the top pieces for the front and back turrets, the table saw was used with dado blades so that it would cut a 1/2" groove. To make the cuts faster, a jig was build. This jig was basically a simple cross cut sled with a 1/2" wide board was nailed onto it 1" from the closest edge of the dado blade. This way the crenelations cut would have a 1/2" wide cut section and 1" uncut sections.
Each of the boards for the walls was carefully measured to center the cuts so the final crenelations at the beginning and end of the board would be symmetrical. Using this measurement, the first cut was made. Then the cut portion was placed over the 1/2" board nailed to the jig, and the next cut was made. This eliminated a lot of measuring and careful cutting and sped up the process considerably.
Front and Back Towers
Pieces: 1" x 0.5" x long (not sure what the exact length was since these pieces were all cut to size based on other parts)
Using the same method as was used for the walls, crenelations were cut in a long 1" piece of wood (with the grain parallel to the 1" edge not the long edge). This piece was lined up with the tops of the front and back towers, and pieces were cut to match the length of the edges. Measure the pieces carefully so the crenelations are symmetrical. Once the pieces are cut, glue and clamp them together into one piece that is separate from the main tower since it is easier to clamp them if they are not attached to the tower. After they have dried, they will be nailed to their respective towers (see next step).
To cut the crenelations in the side towers, clamp a block to the crosscut sled for the table saw that will act as a stop. This will allow you to cut the crenelations at a consistent spacing. Carefully make four cuts on the top of each of the posts. Finally, draw out the square you would like hollowed out, and use a chisel to hollow out the section. Make it 1/8" deeper than you want. Once this is done, cut a small piece of plywood to fit inside the side towers and glue it in (or set it in if it is a tight fit). This plywood will cover up the chisel marks.
The crenelations on the turrets were cut in a similar way to the wall crenelations, except the piece of wood was attached at a 45 degree angle to the saw blade. The first crenelation on each turret was cut before the cross cut sled was modified. Then the piece of wood was added, and first cut was lined up with it, so every cut would be consistently 45 degrees apart.
Step 10: Walkways
Long walkway (x 2): 25" x 2" x 3/4"
Short walkway (x 2): 15" x 2" x 3/4"
Long support (x 2): 22" x 2" x 3/4"
Short support (x 2): 12" x 2" x 3/4"
Prop the walls in place relative to the four towers/table legs. Then place the 15" pieces on top of the towers above the short walls and mark out where the curve of the table legs cross it. Cut of these curves roughly with the band saw and then sand the curves so that these pieces fit the posts nicely. Make sure to check the fit often so you don't sand it too far.
Note: the supports will be used in the final assembly to support the bottom of the inside walls. They are included here since they have similar dimensions to the walkways, so it would make sense to prepare them at the same time.
Step 11: Assembling Everything
This is the best part of the whole process - watching your hours of work finally stop being a pile of wood and start being an epic coffee table.
The first step of assembly was to attach the towers to the walls. To do this, cut a notch in the outside walls, deep enough so that when the base of the tower is added to the bottom, the base is flush with the bottom of the wall. Then apply some glue in the middle of the back of the tower (where the tower will be pressed against the wall), but be careful not to add too much, or else you will have to sand the glue off. Next place the glued surface against the wall and nail it to the wall (with the nails going through the wall). Finally, add glue to the back of the base and place it underneath the tower. I didn't use clamps since the nails held the pieces of wood together.
While the towers are drying (or after they're dry), take the extra pieces from the walkways, apply glue, and clamp them to the inside of the outside walls. They should be glued on the long 3/4" wide edge as shown in the first picture. The pieces should be a little over 1/8" above the bottom edge of the wall, so that when the plywood is added, it will not stick out from the bottom.
At this point, you can use a nail gun to attach the crenelations to the top of the back and front towers.
Next, the walls will be attached to the towers (the table legs). I think we assembled this portion right side up, and then flipped it upside down, so that the plywood base could be screwed to the bottom of the table to help keep everything square. You probably could assemble it upside down if you don't have a second person to help you flip the table. Else, you may also be able to set the plywood in place underneath without actually screwing it down.
Cut a piece of cherry plywood (I think we used 1/8" thick) so that it fits inside the outside walls. Place the for towers upside down and add a small line of glue inside the groove. Then put the wall sections in the grooves cut in the towers (make sure the walls are right side up or upside down, depending on how you're assembling it, and in the correct place). Then we wrapped the entire castle with two ratchet straps to clamp everything together. Flip the castle over and screw the plywood sheet to the bottom.
Next, flip the castle over and glue and clamp the walkways inside the walls. To align them, press them flush against the bottom of the towers.
Finally, glue the inside walls. To align them, you can rest the walls on the plywood bottom. Add a small amount of glue to the edge of the walkways and the bottom support, and then secure the walls by nailing them to the bottom supports and clamp the top of the walls to the walkway. If you have deeper clamps, you can probably clamp both ends, but since the nail holes are deep inside the castle, they are not noticeable.
Note: Make sure when you clamp the finished boards together, add a scrap piece of plywood between the wood and the jaws of the clamp to prevent the boards from being dented by the clamps. Also, if any glue squeezes out, wipe it off with a wet paper towel to minimize the amount of sanding you will need to do later.
Step 12: Finishing
Make sure you are happy with how everything is sanding. At this point, everything should be smooth, but you might want to sand a few edges on the turrets to make sure the pieces are flush.
After the entire castle was assembled and sanded, I applied stain to the wood. To do this, I painted the stain on using a paint brush, and then wiped an old T-shirt over the wood to remove the extra stain. Once the castle was stained, my teacher sprayed it with a clear coat, and then I lightly sanded everything again to smooth the surface. We repeated this several times, and then the castle was finished.
If you wanted, you could fill the nail holes and sand them smooth; however, since my project had already gone past the end of the school year and since the nail holes were not obvious, I did not do this.
I bought a piece of glass and set it on top of the four turrets to form the table's surface.
When I made this project, I did not intend to make an Instructable for this project; however, recently I decided that this project was worth sharing, so others learn from and maybe even be inspired by this project. Since I did not initially plan to make this Instructable, several steps will be missing pictures of the intermediate steps, which I apologize for. I've tried to add diagrams on how various parts were cut and clamped, but please let me know if anything was unclear.
Participated in the
First Time Author Contest