Cherry Coffee Table #1: The Cranky Sailor Workshop - Ep 1

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Blog entry by DynaBlue posted 10-23-2009 04:32 AM 2009 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Cherry Coffee Table series Part 2: The Cranky Sailor Workshop - Ep 2 »

Okay, I don’t normally get into the whole ‘blogging’ thing but with a sentence of encouragement from a fellow LJ I thought I’d take the plunge and show off the length, breadth and depth of my woodworking disabilities on my first real job for another person who actually has money to pay me.

A few things first off..

1. Yes, it’s messy. My shop..I know. We just moved into our house a few months ago and things aren’t fully stashed away yet. I straighten things out on a daily basis and field day towards the end of the week but clutter is unfortunately my constant companion.

2. I appreciate constructive advice. I’m only at the Junior Chipmonk Woodworking level (got the merit badge to prove it!) and I am quite aware that how I do things isn’t always, or perhaps mostly, isn’t how things are done by the pros. I’ll take advice although I might be past the point where I can make use of it on this project.

3. If you don’t like the blog, well, it wasn’t my idea! Without mentioning names it was brought on by 3fi~gerpa~. So there.

I now return you to “the cherry coffee table” already in progress:

My neighbor was visiting and saw some of the things that I’d built in the past and ‘mentioned’ how much she’d like a round topped coffee table made of cherry. Having danced this dance before I told her that I’d see what I could do when I had the time, figuring that the subject would die out like has happened many times before. Well, over the course of several weeks she persisted, even when I told her that the materials alone would run to over $500, so I agreed to make a rough sketchup drawing and see what she thought.

I dunno..I guess you’d call the style…traditional? Simple? Simplistic? As I was going through my stacks of magazines last night I realized it looks similar to a Stickley tabouret. If it was stepped on and squashed by an elephant. Or something.

She loved it. We discussed a few more things but she didn’t want the design changed. Armed with her approval on the design I went wood shopping, even got taken to the ‘secret warehouse’ of rough lumber at Frost Hardwood and brought home some rough stock and started milling. This was my first opportunity to turn ol’ Frankenplane loose using my newest, bestest buddy, the 21st century workbench which I built last month. It rocks! Only figuratively, of course; it’s stable as heck and heavy as you’d expect from about 160bf of solid ash.

Things went fairly well and I was able to get the stock milled straight and it even stayed that way. I considered myself to have had a good day. The next day I milled out the legs and stretchers and marked my mortise and tenon locations before life intruded and took me away.

Today I wanted to get the mortises and tenons cut and fitted then get started on the half lap joinery on the stretchers. I’m getting better at mortise and tenons but still they sometimes come out looking like something a retarded beaver got a hold of, so I had my apprehensions at this point. No, seriously, I’ve made some horrid MT joints before. I dragged out the mortising attachment for my drill press and quickly realized that it doesn’t fit this Delta dp at all. The sliding blocks which secure the fence to the table are too large to slide in the channels provided in the dp table. Problem. I then spent the next few hours brainstorming up a work around.

Finally! A use for that X-Y milling table I got off craigslist two years ago! Then I commenced to burning holes in some cherry. I was quite pleased with the final result as long as you recall my poor track record.

Two of the MT joints slipped together with nothing more than a few light hand taps and required really no fiddling with and the other six only needed minor trimming.

And I do mean MINOR..this is the sum total of all shavings I needed to remove to make the tenons fit with only light tapping to seat.

I fit the joints all together and this is what I ended the day with. I can work on the half laps tomorrow and even start final milling and begin laminating the table tops.

Thanks for looking!


-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....

9 comments so far

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3589 days

#1 posted 10-23-2009 06:09 AM

Nice work. I’ll be following this blog.
Thanks for sharing!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1598 posts in 3556 days

#2 posted 10-23-2009 07:41 AM

Since 3fingerpat and I are distant relations, I wholeheartedly agree with the decision to blog about your project. I hope the constructive atmosphere around here encourages further postings. A very nice design (damn Sketchup users), a great opportunity, and an entertainingly informative blog. Keep up the good work.

I’m currently wrestling with whether to take another commission for a dining table , especially since I haven’t made ours yet and Turkey Day is fast approaching…

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3575 days

#3 posted 10-23-2009 07:42 AM

Cool shop and super tools

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View DynaBlue's profile


131 posts in 3188 days

#4 posted 10-23-2009 08:23 AM

Thanks for taking a look.

Pat- I would never knowingly let down the Goat Locker. That’s what initiation was all about, right? Well, that and providing endless hours of entertainment for all the Genuines.

Captain, I really need to learn more about how to make components or at least how to make the individual parts interact more elegantly. I’ve got a sketchup for dummies book which I fully intended to read on my final deployment but something prevented me from ever getting too far. Oh yeah, it was being the doc for a cruiser..a never ending job. I loved it though. :) Anyhow, my sketchup skill are rudimentary at best right now but it did allow me to design something simple. I do admire some of the plans I’ve seen using the program, facinating level of details can be included.

I do intend to post pictures of my shop and equipment one of these days. After a field day. Between projects. When inertia isn’t such an issue. Honest!

-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....

View Cranc's profile


9 posts in 3150 days

#5 posted 10-23-2009 09:25 AM

Personally, I think cherry is the bestest wood out there in terms of warm and inviting while still being very elegant. I like Walnut too but it’s dark and sucks up the light. Cherry, to me, is a perfect furniture wood. Have you given any thought to the type of finish yet? Will be watching this one develop!

Oh, and yer bench totally rocks!

-- Cranc

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3820 days

#6 posted 10-23-2009 12:20 PM

Blue, this is looking pretty good. You are off to a good start on the coffee table. This is going to be interesting to follow your progress.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View HeirloomWoodworking's profile


238 posts in 3738 days

#7 posted 10-23-2009 09:23 PM

Looks like a grand start! This is going to be a very interesting blog, and I will enjoy following it.

I like the project and it’s design. What is going to be the final diameter of the top?

Adding this to my ever growing list of “I am going to have to make one of those” Lumberjocks projects

Great looking shop bench and tools…I am envious. Do you always wear sandles in the shop?

Keep up the good work

-- Trevor Premer Head Termite and Servant to the Queen - Heirloom Woodworking

View DynaBlue's profile


131 posts in 3188 days

#8 posted 10-23-2009 10:52 PM

Heh..I wondered if someone was going to call me on wearing sandals in the shop. The answer is yes. And no. Sometimes I wear closed toe sandals (river rafting shoes) and sometimes I wear my steel toed boots. It’s a habit I picked up in Hawaii where sandals (properly referred to as ‘slippahs’) are ‘man for all seasons’ footwear and the weather in San Diego is nice enough to make them nearly year-round shoes. If I’m doing much work with heavy stock I’ll usually wear steel toes or if I’m going to be moving around the shop a lot and don’t feel like shattering a toenail when I kick something, I’ll wear closed toes. Otherwise I just can’t beat the ease of kicking off the sandals when I come inside..seems the wife doesn’t like sawdust, chips and curls trampled around the house. Go figure.

Dimensions of the project: 36” top, 29” round bottom, 18” tall, 1” thick top/bottom rounds.

For finish I’m thinking an oil (tung, danish, BLO..dunno which) followed by a more durable topcoat. Maybe poly.

-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3332 days

#9 posted 10-23-2009 11:11 PM

Good blog. Nice table design. Looking forward to see the finished product.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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