I bit of an extension from one of my projects from last year - the "A Christmas Story" leg lamp. Arbortech was so jealous that they had to bet their own version of my leg :). This was also the perfect opportunity for a little bit of a play on words, I got to literally make a table leg. I prepared the power carving blank in my shop and carved it down live at the Woodworking Show in Baltimore. The table was built entirely from pieces of maple butcher block countertop. The leg was 5 layers laminated together with wood glue. The table top was finished by first burning it with a torch and then sanded smooth, then 5 coats of Waterlox tung oil were applied to ever thing to give it an awesome natural shine. Thanks for checking out the video (link below) and taking the time to read this! I'm pretty sure nobody does though, so here's a joke: How do you make an octopus laugh? Ten tickles...
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Step 1: Materials & Tools
- Maple butcherblock off cuts
- Leg template
- Wood glue http://amzn.to/2kID2jI
- Misc screws
- Rubber feet http://amzn.to/2nUqfbV
- Waterlox tung oil finish http://bit.ly/waterloxjackman
Tools (not all of these are required, but this is what I used for the build)
- Turbo Plane power carver http://bit.ly/2BKRFr3
- Contour Sander http://bit.ly/2nsclzo
- ISOtunes bluetooth hearing protection http://bit.ly/2uIsq7M
- Bandsaw http://amzn.to/2j4auNu
- Glue spreader bottle http://amzn.to/2wV3tnO
- Screw clamps http://amzn.to/2k4EvjT
- Compass http://amzn.to/2moOMIb
- Router table http://amzn.to/2tnG2T2
- Router bits http://amzn.to/2j4dCsW
- Random orbital sander http://amzn.to/2jrwsJC
- Angle grinder http://amzn.to/2BxiIai
- Tape measure http://amzn.to/2uTi2e8
- Drill & Driver http://amzn.to/2wy5wSZ
- Countersink drill bit http://amzn.to/2E2U7vP
- MAP gas torch http://amzn.to/2y6r9Ln
Step 2: Materials and Cutting Them to Size
It's important to start your project off with quality materials. For the structure I used maple butcher block countertop cut-offs, plus I needed a pattern of my leg (scaled down ~20%), and a nosy orange tabby cat.
I trace the paper template out onto one of the pieces of butcher block and then move over to the bandsaw to cut it down to shape.
Then with one of the leg silhouettes cut out, I can use that as my template to trace out the rest and then cut them on the bandsaw just like the first one.
All of the pieces cut out! 4 full layers and then one extra half layer just to make up for the extra meat on my thigh...
Step 3: Glue-up
I use my glue spreader bottle to spread a liberal amount of wood glue on each of the layers while I sandwich them together.
Then, with a little finesse, you want to install clamps around the perimeter to squeeze the layers together while the glue dries.
Step 4: Create the Base and Table Top
While that's drying, I work on the other parts of the table, the table top, and the bottom plate that will help the table stand up. These are also made from the same butcher block cut-offs and I trace a radius out from the center.
The two circles are cut down to size on the bandsaw and the edges are sanded smooth on the disk sander.
Since the edge is so thick (~1.5") I want to break that up a bit to make it look thinner while keeping the heft of the thick table top to match the heft of my leg. With the router table, I'm also able to add different profiles around the perimeter of each piece to give it some more visual interest.
Step 5: Removing the Clamps and Transitioning to Baltimore
Now with that done, the glue is dry, so I carefully take the clamps off of the legs one at a time...
The preparations are completed for all of the pieces of the table, so why not bring them out to the Woodworking Show in Baltimore for a live build!
Step 6: Power Carving and Sanding
I converted the paper templates into a couple of cardboard ones to allow for me to straddle the shape of the leg and then I use that to trace out the rough profile of the front/back of the leg.
With all of my guidelines in place, it's time to get to power carving! The shape that I started with defines one axis with the shape I cut on the bandsaw, so I use these new guidelines to shape the piece in the other dimension.
Then once the shape is defined in both directions, I round the whole thing and refine the shape until it looks like a leg. The nice thing about this is how clean and contained of an operation that it is (sarcasm, ha!). I noticed the building custodian walking around, he was NOT amused.
With the carving portion complete, I use the sander to smooth it all out. It has a rubber pad on the head of it so it flexes around the curves of my leg... oh so sensually.
Step 7: Assembling the Table
After publicly caressing and sanding down my leg, it's finally time for assembly. Lining everything up was a bit tricky, since the shape of the leg leans backwards slightly, so I have to average that out by setting the base/top off from the center in opposite directions.
Once I'm satisfied with the look, I pre-drill and then screw the base into the foot.
The table top is attached using a piece of 1/2" plywood as a sub-top. This way I can screw the plywood into the top of the leg and then flip it over and screw that sub-top into the actual table top to hold the whole assembly in place.
Flip it over and you have a table! But that's not all folks...
Step 8: Back to Reality
It was only a dream after all! Or was it?
All of the maple is the same color and kind of blends together so I think I need a little bit of a different color for part of it. After a little time in photoshop, I decided that the top needs a darker color. I'm not a bit fan of stain on butcher block though, so I decided to put a little fire power into my finish!
I pull out my propane torch and use that to scorch the entire surface of the table top. You just want to burn it enough to darken it by scorching the surface, not light it on fire. So swift movements my dear boy.
Once it cools down, I take my sander to smooth out the surface and remove some of the build up of scorch wood. This leaves behind a nice toasted surface.
Step 9: Applying Finish...
Now it's finally time for finish to see what this thing actually looks like! The finish is my favorite, you could almost even say that it just keep on giving... (ha! I laugh at my own jokes)
I use a rag soaked with the finish and rub it on the surface. The burnt surface seems to be pretty thirsty, but I'm loving the look of this already!
With the table top taken care of, I can now take my time oiling up my leg. Slow and steady.
It's important to keep the thoughts of the leg in mind during this process, this is equally as uncomfortable for it and it is for you, just keep things professional and it'll all be alright.
Step 10: Final Assembly & Photos
After a total of 5 coats of Waterlox, I am happy with the appearance of all of the pieces so they can now be assembled. The bottom gets screwed into the foot and I add some rubber feet to keep it from wobbling/sliding and then attach the table top like before.
Now I can move into my "photo studio" and call this thing a wrap!
Step 11: Glamour Shots
Thanks for checking out the build process! Don't forget to watch the build video for the full experience. I love you.
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