Introduction: Live-Edge End Table
Once we finished the entertainment center that sits in our living room, we realized we needed to update the rest of the furniture to match. We decided to replace the end table in our living room with this modern, mixed-media table.
This table is made out of a solid hardwood table-top (made out of cherry and maple) which sits on top of a recessed frame. The frame is connected to a shelf with polished stainless steel tubes.
This is a great project if you know some basic woodworking and like seeing results fast! The simplicity of the legs really speeds up the construction process, because unlike most furniture this design doesn't require any complex joinery. My dad and I probably spent a full week on this project.
Step 1: Design
We wanted this table to match the entertainment center, and the kitchen table in the adjacent room, so using cherry and maple were natural wood choices. We also wanted to get some experience with making mixed-media furniture, and so we decided to use polished metal tubes for the legs.
We designed this table to replace an existing piece of furniture, so we just took dimensions off of that to get the general sizing. Then we used SketchUp to tweak the details of the design.
Step 2: Table Top
When we went to the hardwood stock yard to pick out wood, we found the perfect slab of cherry for this project. It had one live edge and amazingly curly grain. It was about $250, but we couldn't pass it up! We also found a nice piece of maple the same size.
We started off by plaining both boards to clean up any surface imperfections, then we trued up the edges on the table saw. Next we cross-cut off a third of the cherry slab and ripped off its live-edge. We cut the remaining cherry in half and glued one of those to the trimmed cherry piece, creating a wider cherry board. We did the same thing to the maple to create a similarly wide board.
Then we made a plywood jig that we screwed to the larger cherry and maple pieces to put matching angles in each. This way, they perfectly complement each other.
These two matching pieces got glued together, and then the remaining piece of cherry got glued on the back of the maple. Once that was cured, we trimmed the sides with a circular saw.
Step 3: Shelf
To make the bottom shelf, we planed down rough 4/4 cherry lumber to around 3/4", trued up the edges on the table saw, and then glued up two ~ 4-5' boards that were each about 7 inches wide. We used several biscuits to strengthen this joint because the wood is pretty thin.
Then we crosscut that long piece in half, and glued up those two pieces so we had an oversized 2x2 foot square. We also used biscuit joints in this step (using 1 biscuit per foot of board). We used a skill saw to cut the shelf to final dimensions of 2x2 feet.
Check the annotations in the pictures for more information!
Step 4: Frame
To make the frame, we used more 4/4 cherry lumber. We used the table saw to rip a 3.5" wide length and a 5" wide length. We crosscut two of each width to length using our radial arm saw. Again, biscuits were used in these joints.
Step 5: Sanding + Finishing
All wood pieces were sanded with 100-600 grit sandpaper, and finished with several coats of good stuff and then some coats of polyurethane. We found that using semi-gloss polyurethane instead of the satin-finish helped to get rid of the brush marks better.
Step 6: Assembly
We clamped the frame to the shelf in the proper orientation, and then drilled holes for the 2' threaded rods. A series of washers, wooden spacers, and nuts were used on these rods to secure the tubes in place and hold the frame and shelf firmly together. We cut the wooden spacers with a 2" hole saw and the washers were polished with sandpaper and an orbital sander.
We ordered the 2' polished stainless tubes online, and then cut 4 inches off of each. The short segments got pressure-fit onto the wooden spacers underneath the shelf, and the long section fits between the shelf and frame.
The nuts on the top of the frame stick up a bit, so we bored some large holes in the bottom of the table top to recess the nuts. This way the top rests flush against the frame.
We used the biscuit joiner to make a slot on each of the inside faces of the frame, which allowed us to attach the top with table-hold-down brackets.