(UNS)TABLE Wooden Coffee Table

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Welcome to my second instructable!

Let's be honest: this table concept is not an original idea, it was inspired by a wonderful table from a famous brand. Yes, wonderful but also very expensive...

That's why we (my father, my brother and I) thought to build it by ourselves. We put a lot of effort in making it and I think it deserves to be shared with you all.

A small but important clarification: despite the name, wich is only a pun, this (UNS)TABLE table is not really unstable but indeed very stable!

Consider that, when we built this object, an instructable was not in my plans so, unfortunately, I have not taken photos of the construction but I will try to replace them worthily with some representative drawings of the various phases.

Consider that this concept could be adaptable to different objects:

  • a coffee table
  • a dining table
  • a counter
  • a stool
  • ...

It is all up to your imagination!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Materials:

  • Wood panel 3100x1850mm about
  • Wood glue
  • Wood putty
  • Wood screws 35/40mm
  • 2mm bicycle spoke (or bar/rod)

Tools:

  • A0 Plotter
  • Bandsaw or jigsaw
  • Hand or circular saw
  • Drill
  • Electric screwdriver (not essential but a great help)
  • Mouse sander (not essential but a great help)
  • Sandpaper in varoius grits
  • Vernish
  • Paint (if you want a painted top surface)

Step 2: Design Your Table

We have to design our object.

The fun part of this project is that it is meant to be a very sinous element with some curves recalling, in my opinion, the contour maps. No schemes, no geometric shapes..so you can give vent to your creativity!

  • Choose the broad measures of your tabletop
  • Conceive more or less the shape of the tabletop in a plan view
  • Design the lower layers shrinking and slightly translating the prevoius one as you go dow
  • Choose the height of the table and the number of layers you want in order to determine the thickness of the single layer

Keep in mind that, to avoid stability problems:

  • The base (the lower layer) should not be too small.
  • The vertical projection of the center of gravity of the whole object should fall more or less in the center of the base.

Ok, now you have got all the essential elements for your project. Usually, I sketch it on paper at first and produce a CAD model then.

We decided for a 375mm table height, divided in n°15-25mm layers. Broad measures of about 970x560mm for the top and 300x270mm for the base.

You will find attached my CAD files in .dwg format (2D) and .3dm/.obj format (3D)

model3D.3dm

model3D.obj

plan2D.dwg

profile2D.dwg

Step 3: Choose Wood Type and Species

Although I present this step as a follow-up, it should actually go hand in hand with the first one.

You should choose the wood paying attention to:

  • The look you want to give to your object
  • The size and thickness of the panels you can find
  • The ease of carving

At first, we thought that plywood would have been a good choice but the final look would have been too stratified, something like a layer with layers..we didn't like it very much but I think it is a matter of taste.

So, after some research, we decided for a 3100x1850mm beech wood blockboard panel (thickness 25cm, as said before).

Consider that also this type of panel has its faults, such as the slits between a strip and another in the core that will have to be finished later.

Step 4: Print Your Silhouettes

Now, you have to print each layer silhouette in a 1:1 scale, we will use them later to cut our shapes on the panel.

To prepare this drawing, I suggest you to:

  • Give a progressive number to each shape
  • Mark the projection of center of gravity of the whole object on each silhouette
  • Draw, departing from the center, two lines to mark two "sides", e.g. "down" and "left"

These easy operations will help us to recognize and align correctly our layers.

Now we have to arrange our silhouettes in some A0 sheets, print and cut them all.

You will find attached my CAD file in .dwg format (6 A0 format sheets).

sheets2D.dwg

Step 5: Pre-cut Your Panel

In order to have more manageable surfaces, we will prepare a scheme to cut our panel into smaller rectangles (named with a letter: A,B,C, etc.) that will contain one or more shapes. As always, try to reduce waste material.

Mark the dimentions of each rectangle so that they can be brought back to the panel and cut with your hand/circular/ or whatever-saw.

You will find attached my CAD file in .dwg format.

rectangles2D.dwg

Step 6: Cut Your Shapes

Place each paper silhouette on the respective wood rectangle, mark the center and trace the shape with a pencil.

Cut it following the lines with a bandsaw or a jigsaw (photo above) and drill a 2mm hole in the center. This hole's aim is to help with alignment of the layers in combination with the 2mm bicycle spoke.

After that, place again the paper silhouette on it, align it and mark the two guidelines ("down" and "left") on the sides of the shape.


IMPORTANT: when you drill the center hole on top layer, be careful not to go complitely through it because the upper face of it must be perfect!

Step 7: Finish and Paint/vernish

This step could be done also as the last one but I think it would be far easier to prepare all your layers before assembling them together.

So, fill with a proper putty (should be about the same colour of your wood) the slits on the side of each panel. You can clearly see the slits filled in the photos above (already assembled).

Then, smooth the top and the sides with a mouse sander, sandpaper and a lot of..elbow grease.

Lastly vernish the parts that will be visible in in the finished table:

  • The upper face of the top layer
  • The sides of all layers
  • The area close to the edge in the lower face of each layer (except the bottom one)

The number of coats needed depends on the quality of the wood and many other factors but I suggest at least three, sanding a bit the surface between one coat and another.

If you want, paint the top with the colour you prefer.

Step 8: Assemble the Table

Turn the top layer (n°15) upside down, with the center hole (non-through!) facing up.

Remember that, from now on, your "left" mark will become a "right" mark.

  • Put some glue on the wood layer
  • Place your 2mm spoke in the center hole
  • Position the lower one, upside down again (n° 14, will be "lower" on the finished table) on it sliding its center hole on the guide spoke
  • Align it using the guidelines
  • With the electric screwdriver, place 3 or 4 screws to tighten the two layers and let the glue work. Pay attention to sink also the head of the screw in wood because we don't want any extra thickness.

You can clearly see the center hole and the screws in the photos above (already assembled).

IMPORTANT: use shorter screws when you assemble layer 15 and 14 because we don't want to pass through and come out from the top layer.

Go on with the remaining layers using this technique.

Note that, during the assembly, considering the height of the sofa to which the table would have been coupled, we decided not to install the lowest level, ie we stopped at number 2.

Step 9: Adjust the Last Details

As the title says, give a last check at the table to see if further refinement is necessary and...you are done!

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    14 Discussions

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    oragamiunicorn

    21 days ago

    a beautiful design. I wonder if you could save weight and wood, maybe reducing costs, by having the top half hollow. you could then maybe use the cut out of the higher layers as a layer for the lower half

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    JT Woodworksoragamiunicorn

    Reply 16 days ago

    I thought the same things. It seems they kept the entire shape for alignment purposes

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    MartinG167oragamiunicorn

    Reply 18 days ago

    Hollow it out, add a weight at the bottom and it will be as stabile with the added feature of it going back into its original position when tilted. Almost like a roly-poly toy. :D

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    Kink Jarfoldoragamiunicorn

    Reply 20 days ago

    I thought of the same exact thing. You'd wind up with using only a few pieces of ply and it would be lighter. KJ

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    gibettoKink Jarfold

    Reply 20 days ago

    Thank you. Yes, I took it into consideration during the design but in my opinion it could negatively affect the stability of the object: less weight at the top is good but it would also be distributed very far from the center.

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    ElectroFrankgibetto

    Reply 19 days ago

    The same idea immediately occurred to me. The whole table could then be made from just three sheets of wood, one for the top, and the base from hollow overlapping rings taken alternately from the other two sheets. An iron or concrete weight tucked in the bottom would add stability. Alternatively, a shaped piece about half the size of the top could be screwed to the bottom as a foot.

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    PhilTilson

    18 days ago

    Despite the author's confident statement at the beginning, I can't believe this is REALLY stable! It is also VERY heavy, so if it were to fall over - if a child bumped into it, for example, it could cause some serious damage!

    One thought that occurs to me is that it could be a lot cheaper - and a lot lighter - if some of the smaller panels were to be cut out of the larger panels - in other words, cut each layer, except for the top and bottom, of course, as a 'frame', maybe a couple of inches wide. The inside of the table would therefore be hollow, which would allow the location of a very heavy lump of iron, lead or concrete to be placed in the base. Now that would be REALLY stable!

    1 reply
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    gibettoPhilTilson

    Reply 17 days ago

    The solution that you (as other users) propose does not seem bad at all, it would be worth trying. As I said, we had partly taken it into consideration, and then discarded it for various reasons.
    I summarize my considerations in three points:

    1) I assure you that it is very stable. My statement is based on direct experience, in fact I often put my feet on the table while watching the TV from the sofa and, even putting them to the extreme, no sign of movement. Also, there are often two kids playing on and around the table and never flipped over

    2) it would certainly be cheaper (good thing) but the processing definitely more complex

    3) I do not think it would lighten much since, as you propose, you should add a big weight inside

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    Kink Jarfold

    20 days ago on Step 9

    I, too, get ideas from other sources. Your version of this table is great. It was an interesting choice of materials giving the edges a unique look. Great job. KJ

    HIGH 10.jpgGrant Wood.png
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    seamster

    21 days ago

    This is a great looking table, and a perfect "after-the-fact" instructable too. You've included more than enough info and diagrams that I think most people could follow your steps to produce a similar table. Very well done!!

    1 reply
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    Lorddrake

    21 days ago

    on the choice of material, for the design you made the beechwood blockboard looks great.
    I think it might be cool to use the plywood ... and instead of having steps between layers, sand the edges on an angle to make one consistent taper down through the whole table and you will see all the layers down through the table (kind of like rings of a tree).

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    gibettoLorddrake

    Reply 20 days ago

    I think it could be an interesting variation.