The metal frame and legs however were all that remained in an acceptable state. Instead of buying an expensive high-quality new table, I decided to make a new wooden top. It turned out to cut the price by more than two --well, not counting the two week-ends spent on the construction ;-).
With only basic power tools and limited joinery skills, I still wanted to build a stylish object.
- Inauguration lunch on the finished product
- Finished product
- Old table top strained by the weather
- Old table top detail
Step 1: Making Sketches, and Getting the Wood
First, I visited a nearby sawmill, and inquired about several things:
- Available varieties of weather-resistant woods they sell, and in which sizes (width, thickness, maximum length, price).
- They had "ipé" wood, a very heavy, resistant and durable neotropical wood. I hope that "durable" is more "green" than "tropical"... Time will tell.
- They also advised me to oil it with an ad-hoc oil used for wooden decks. Not cheap, but a really good product.
- They could rectify the surface with a jointer (aka surface planer), producing a much smoother surface, at the cost of a slight reduction of the thickness, and a small extra fee.
- They could also cut the boards to desired length for no extra fee.
- I wanted a lattice design, with some spaces to drain the rainwater, so the rectified width of the boards matters.
- I made several designs (with OpenOffice Draw which is largely enough for this purpose). After a painless vote, one was chosen. I added more details, such as making sure that overall top size would fit to the salvaged metal frame and legs.
- I went back to the sawmill, not forgetting to take a copy of my sketch (thinking it is always better to be able to explain the purpose of what you ask for). It turned out to be a good idea, because the rectified width they told me before was slightly wrong, so I had to quickly revise the measurements on the sketch.
- They needed "some time" to prepare the wood, because they usually work for much bigger contracts, hundreds of square meters, so my 2 square meters had a lower priority. I fully understand that.
- After that "time" I came back again to the sawmill where a kind and helpful employee, who had already rectified the thickness and width, made the final cuts in front of me, and, finally, sold me the proper oil.
- The various designs
- The chosen design
- At the sawmill
Step 2: Materials and Tools
- The wood, on two fold-down trestles, which will be very useful for the construction (you can use a table instead).
- The salvaged steel frame and feet.
- The oil.
- 4x steel plates and associated screws (shameful solution when you have no joinery basic skills), and 4 latches (to attach the top to the frame).
- Brass rings, used as spacers. Inner diameter must allow the dowels to cross them.
- Power tools: sander, saw (for rounded corners), drill.
- Protection glasses and gloves (esp. during sanding)
- measuring tools
- dowel kit: dowel center and brad point drill bit
- sand paper (and sand block)
- hammer (at best, plastic hammer) or mallet
Step 3: Sanding the Wood
Done now, because the lattice design makes it harder later, and also to remove splinters which would be annoying during the work.
Step 4: Checking the Sizes
If the sketch and the cut were correct, everything should fit. Time to check that.
Step 5: Making a Helpful Tool to Mark the Boards
The tool is made of scrap wood, two dowels, and two dowel centers (the middle one was not needed).
- The space between the two dowels must be exactly equal to the width of the boards.
- The distance between the dowel and the next dowel center must be exactly the same, on both ends (D1).
- The distance between the dowel center pin and the base board must be exactly the half of the boards thickness (D2).
Now the tool is used to mark:
- the ends of each middle board (3rd photo)
- the ends of the two short side boards (3rd photo)
- the sides of the two long side boards (4th photo); for this, remove one of the dowels of the tool
Step 6: Drilling the Boards, Adding Dowels and Metal Plates
- Drill all holes where marked. Watch for good alignment.
- Insert dowels into short side boards.
- Assemble long with short side boards, and screw the metal plates. Then leave tightened to the short side boards only.
Step 7: Assembling the Table Top
- Insert all dowels into short side board, add brass rings as spacers.
- Connect short side to middle boards.
- Carefully push using a plastic hammer. Finally tighten the long sides to the short sides, and tighten the screws to the metal plates.
Step 8: Finishing the Angles
- With masking tape, protect the wood around the metal plates.
- Paint the metal plates. Hey, we don't wan them too visible!
Step 9: Legs Attachments
- Center the metal frame on the upside-down top, and mark the feet positions on the wood with a pencil.
- Tighten the latches. I needed to raise them slightly, so I improvised a spacer with rings and masking tape.
Step 10: Oiling the Table Top
Spread the oil on every sides, following instructions on the can (here: two layers, at a 30' interval).
Step 11: Frame Spacers
I noticed a 2mm gap between the top of the frame and the top of the feet. I wanted the wood to rest also on the frame, so I needed a 2mm thick spacer.
2mm-thick L-profiled plastic bars were used to fill this gap. Contact glue was used.
Step 12: Latching Together
Then, the wooden table top could be placed on the frame, and the latches engaged into the feet.
Step 13: Enjoying the Finished Product!
Well, the table has a modern and stylish look, very much as hoped.
The oil gives a silky aspect.
Having lunch is again a pleasure.
Step 14: Special Cares
The wood must be periodically oiled, approx 2x per year. In addition, the table should be protected by a waterproof cover sheet, against snow during winter, and against rain during long rainy periods.