Introduction: Modern Round Coffee Table
I had a lot of assorted red oak scrap left from past projects and wanted to do something with it. I also wanted to learn some new skills so I decided to make my first round table. During this build I learned how to cut perfect circles, use a router correctly, and how to flatten a slab using handplanes. I estimate that this could be built over the course of a weekend for under a $100.
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Step 1: Tools & Materials
I used 12/4 S3S red oak scrap from various past projects. 12/4 or 3" is the thickness of the lumber in its rough state. S3S stands for surfaced 3 sides - that means both faces will be flat and parallel with one edge that is straight line ripped.
These legs are a steal for the cost. The only problem I found with them was that the paint could easily be scratched. Although, if you're willing to spend a little extra you could go get a pair powder coated.
Stain & Finish
Because I was using scrap, each board was different in color. I tried to even it out by using a whitewash stain, Minwax Pickled Oak, and water based finish to avoid ambering. Overall it came out pretty good but if I did this again I would use Rubio Monocoat because it's a far more durable finish, keeps the surface looking and feeling like wood, and only takes one coat.
Just generic inserts from amazon.
- Miter Saw
- Table Saw
- Router with Flush Trim & 3/8" Roundover Bits
- Drill Bits
- Assorted Handplanes
- Circle Cutting Jig
Step 2: Top Layout & Surfacing
First I laid my boards out in the orientation that looked best. Then I rough cut them over on the miter saw. Once they were in more manageable lengths I squared up the boards on the table saw and thicknessed them on the planer.
Step 3: Glue Up
My lumber was fairly warped so I decided to use dowels to help keep the table top flat during the glue up. I used a cheap dowel jig I found on Amazon for $15. To use it you just set the depth of the drill bit, mark a line on your two boards, and drill the hole. I drew a circle on the table top so I knew where to put dowels that way I wouldn't accidently cut into them while routing the circle. After all the dowel holes were drilled I did a test glueup to check for any problems. Finally I glued it all up; unfortunently I forgot to take pictures during this step.
Step 4: Flattening the Slab
This was my first time flattening a slab and I had no idea what I was doing. I used a jointers plane to roughly flatten it, then a smoothing plane to clean up the surface.
Using the jointers plane, I planed in every direction, rotating every so often. When it was flat I then used the smoothing plane to start cleaning up the surface. It is very important that you plane with the grain to reduce tearout. I did not do this at first and had a ton of tearout that became even more noticeable after stain was applied. Once I saw this I got my smoothing plane back out and planed it until it was clear of tearout.
My planing wasn't perfect so I cleaned up any defects with my belt and orbital sander.
Step 5: Cutting the Top Into a Circle
I made an additional instructable about the jig I used to cut my top.
Since this is a table top I flipped it over and found the center to attach the jig. Next I started routing while making sure to rotate clockwise to prevent the bit from catching. I found it cut better and faster on a slower speed. After I reached my maximum depth I cut between the void with a jig saw. This left a slight hangover that I could then clean up with a flush trim bit.
Step 6: Roundover & Sanding
I filled any cracks with stainable wood filler and then added a 3/8" round over to the top & bottom of the table top. After the wood filler was dried I used my orbital sander and sanded it up to 220 grit.
Step 7: Finishing
This is where I ran into some trouble. Normally when I apply stain I let it soak in for 5-10 minutes then wipe it off. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, the stain kept coming back up to the surface in certain spots. To fix this and some tearout that became far more noticeable after the stain was applied, I took my smoothing plane out and removed the top 1/16" or so. I then let it dry for about a week and reapplied the stain. This time however, I only let it sit a few minutes and I had no problems.
For finish I went with Minwax Polycrylic for two reasons:
- It dries within 2 hours
- It's water based so it doesn't amber
I applied 3 coats sanding with 220 grit between each coat and then waxed it with furniture wax.
Step 8: All Done!
Enjoy your new coffee table and be sure to share photographs!
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