Introduction: How to Build a Conference Table / Dining Table W/ Walnut & Steel
In this video, I show you how to build this conference table (would also make a great dining table) from Walnut and steel. Watch the video then follow the steps below!
Step 1: Assemble the Steel Bases
The bases are made from steel 1" 16ga square tubing. I cut my pieces and then welded them together using solid core MIG. After welding, I ground down my welds using an angle grinder and painted the bases using spray enamel.
Step 2: Prepare Your Lumber and Glue Up Top Panels
I used rough cut Walnut for the top. To dimension the lumber, I used a combination of a jointer, planer, and table saw. After your boards are to their correct dimensions, glue them up into a panel. I used a Festool Domino XL to assist in keeping the boards aligned during glue up.
Step 3: Install Your Breadboard Ends
After gluing up, trim the ends of the panels square using a circular saw or track saw. Next, cut the mortises into the tops using the Domino XL and then glue in the tenons. Drill holes in the tenons to accept dowels. These dowels will help hold the breadboard ends in top while the wood expands and contracts seasonally. Cut mortises into the breadboard ends as well, make all but the center mortise loose. Install the breadboard end, gluing only the center tenon, and then pound in the dowels. Trim the ends of the breadboards flush.
Step 4: Prepping Your Tops for Finish & Finishing
Thoroughly sand your tops, working your way from 80 grit to 120 grit to 180 grit. I chamfered the edges of my tops, but you could use a roundover bit or sandpaper if you want a rounded look. After sanding, wipe the surface with mineral spirits and then apply finish. I applied one coat of General Finishes Seal-A-Cell then applied three coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal, sanding better coats of Arm-R-Seal.
Step 5: Install Casters, Attach Tops, and Install Latches
This conference table is modular and can split down the center into two separate workstations. Because of this, the client wanted the tables on casters for each movement. To install the casters, I cut Walnut plugs that fit into the bottom of the legs and drilled holes in them to accept the casters.
To install the top, screw it to the support brackets you welded to the frame. Finally, add a latch at each end of the tables to keep them together when being used as a conference table.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Table and Impress Your Clients!
I'm really happy with the way this one turned out! If you'd like more details dimensions, I have a SketchUp file available on my website here. If you have any questions, let me know. Also, make sure to watch the video at the top of the Instructable, as it has way more detail. Enjoy!
6 years ago
VERY GOOD Instructable and such a GORGEOUS finished piece!!!
I would like to point out a minor error stated in the video. It does not appear to be included in the written version. I noticed it in the part of the video where you were explaining about the installation of the biscuits/dowels along the edges of the tabletop boards during their glue-up. In paraphrasing that portion, you essentially stated that the biscuits/dowels really wouldn't be subjected to any load/force, but they were necessary to obtain good alignment during glue-up as the individual boards tend to slip and move. In truth, the biscuits/dowels (along with the applied glue) do, indeed, provide structural benefit by virtue of the transfer and distribution of shear forces from one individual board to adjacent boards and ultimately to the supporting framework. This can be visualized by the placement of a concentrated load at midspan of the tabletop and centered on a single individual board. That single loaded board does not, by itself, deflect (bow or sag downward) in supporting the load solely and in its entirety, but rather shear forces are transmitted (by both glue and biscuits/dowels) into any and all adjoining boards such that the load is distributed to and thus supported by multiple boards and the resulting overall deflection is greatly lessened. So while biscuits/dowels do significantly benefit the attainment of proper and desired alignment of butt-joined boards, they also improve the structural capacity of the tabletop overall by providing a hard mechanical means of transferring and distributing shear and by adding a desirable redundancy such that sole dependance on glue alone is avoided. Effectiveness and redundancy are even more important/desirable when minimal lumber thickness is utilized for a given span and when the finished product is employed in a fairly public environment where the potential for abuse/overload is not always controllable or assured.
Please note that In pointing out this relatively minor error and offering information regarding such, I do NOT wish/hope/desire in any way to belittle or diminish the significant achievement that you have so admirably accomplished by the publication of your article. It is my hope and desire in sharing this information that it may be used for the betterment of future work and NOT in any form or fashion be considered or construed to be criticism. In sharing information and experiences, there is always the hope that it may possibly benefit some if not all involved. Good Luck and Godspeed.
The (Un) Civil Engineer