I went to a place called “Global Wood Source” in San Jose, which is the most amazing place I’ve ever been for lumber. The owner travels around the world in search of only the best and most amazingly figured woods. He’s got stuff you can’t find anywhere else. Check out their website and if you are anywhere near San Jose you have to stop by.
Anyway, I found the perfect lumber for my table top. Three slabs of figured maple over 2” thick. I also bought the maple for the legs, and the mahogany for the apron. And while I was at it I stocked up on mahogany 3×3 “table leg stock” for future projects, as well as a few more impulse buys. Once you get on a roll like that “Russ” starts giving you great deals on stuff. I think I was probably their best customer that day… or week? It was the best lumber shopping spree I’ve ever had… and it happened to be my birthday, so it was a good day :)
This is what my truck looked like when I came home:
THE TABLE TOP
Luckily I have a friend in Santa Cruz who has a large woodshop. I had to use his 19” bandsaw, 12” tablesaw, and 15” planer to get my table-top slabs milled down to a manageable size.
Here are the three rough slabs in my friend’s shop. We arranged them in a way that showed off the best figure.
Here they are back in my shop now that they’ve been planed and jointed. They are staggered in a way that makes the figure look the most continuous. I will chop them to length last.
One of my favorite tools to use:
I glued it up in two stages. ONE…
Now, as you can tell from my original Sketchup, I had originally planned to have a natural edge in the front of the table.
But nothing was available that fit all my criteria. So I found that piece with the long curved void through the middle and thought I would put that in the front of the table instead.
But as I was clamping that piece on the uneven tension broke the front of that void. I didn’t even flinch. I knew instantly that it was a good thing, and I knew just what to do. It had been bugging me the whole time anyway.
So I put the giant glued-up table top on my bandsaw and turned that void into a “semi-natural edge.”
Now that I actually have sharp hand tools (thanks to my best friend the WorkSharp) I am starting to reap the benefits. I got to enjoy the quiet, therapeutic sattisfaction of smoothing the top with my good old Stanley No. 5.
I took some measurements right out of sketchup to draw the leg curves on to MDF to make the lamination forms.
I am making two forms, so I will glue up the 8 legs in four stages. Each form is 1 1/2” thick (two layers of 3/4” MDF) to accommodate the 1”x1” legs. So I attached all four layers and cut them together on the bandsaw:
Here are the two forms, each glued and screwed to their bases. In the background are the free-moving “mates.” The maple strips will be clamped between the two halves and pressed flat against the base. The reason they are outside is that they have received two cans of spray-on shellac to keep the lamination glue from sticking to the forms.
One of the forms back inside on my bench, ready for glue up (standing on edge while the shellac dries)
Here is the maple for the legs:
Here is a shot of the set-up for ripping the strips. This is a very tedious job, because each of the eight legs needs ten 1/10” strips to end up 1” thick. So 80 four-foot long strips. Its probably time to sharpen my ripping blade, too.
I had to stop after making 20 strips, enough for my first two legs. But I won’t change the tablesaw set-up until all the strips are cut. I didn’t have time to start mixing the glue so I will probably get to that tomorrow.
Total building time so far: About 9 hours.
-- Happy woodworking! http://www.blakeweber.us