If you don’t feel like reading through all of this, please just scroll down to “Table Top Questions”!
I took a welding/metal arts class at the “Academy of Art” last semester, and was intrigued by traditional blacksmith methods. I found these in many ways very similar to woodworking techniques, and decided to make a arts and crafts like table with a hand forged steel base and a wooden top.
My idea was to imitate woodworking mortise and tenon joints, as you can see in the pictures. The holes for the rails were “cut” into the glowing hot metal with a punch. By cutting this way (instead of drilling only), you get the nice bulging out around the “mortise”. The punch had the same size at the rails, and thus I could bang the rails through the “mortise”... afterwards.
To make the rails “stick” I formed the mushroom like end by heating and hammering on the ends over and over again, and finally drilled two holes through leg and rail through which I then stuck long rivets, which prevent the rail from coming out the other way.
The feet of the legs were “upset” by heating the end in the forge, and then banging them with full force onto an anvil. This would not work in woodworking :)
The thinner metal piece that connects the legs is screwed in. I made the threads myself as well, it’s quite simple actually. The other holes in this piece will provide a place to attach the steel base to the wooden table top.
Overall I am quite satisfied. It’s my first blacksmith project, and for a first one, not so bad. It’s a bit “blacker” than in the pictures, the flash caused a lot of reflections. This black look is achieved by simply painting a linseed oil/beeswax mix onto the table, and then burning it off.
Table Top Questions
Well, the table top however is not done yet. As you can see in the sketchup drawing, the plan is to make this wave-like table top with breadboard ends. I am not too worried about cutting the pieces itself, but I am a bit uncertain about the assembly. I have looked at a few patio tables, and some were screwed together, others with loose tenons, and yet others used dowels.
I would like to use dowels (my dowelmax would come in quite handy for this), but I wonder how much I should worry about the expanding and contracting of the wood? I will most likely use teak wood, as I may get some for a really good price. Does this make a difference, does teak move less than other woods? Any other suggestions for connecting the long pieces to the breadboard ends?
Also, I am wondering if I should need another support in the middle under the wooden table top (which would be out of wood). This would probably keep things together better, as the “strips” will be only about 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
———————- Update years later——————
I am sorry I never updated this post with pictures of the finished table. In the end I decided to just put a “normal” rectangular top on it. I used redwood, and mortise and tenons for the slats to breadboards. The top is screwed on with stainless steel screws. Has held up great for almost 5 years now, I have breakfast on it almost every morning ☺