Southwest Cocktail table #5: More of the table top.

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Blog entry by MarkTheFiddler posted 07-31-2013 10:12 PM 1602 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Another Dry Fit Test Part 5 of Southwest Cocktail table series Part 6: Gettin' Leggy »


I finally found a bit of time to work on the table yesterday and Sunday. I built the underside of the top from larger pieces of cabinet grade plywood (That’s what I had). Then I added an extra layer to the bottom of that.

I didn’t have any plywood that was large enough for the entire top so I overlapped the second layer.

I made a style modification to the top to take care of the gigantic empty spots in the corners. Although you can’t see the final top design yet, I should be able to finish that part up tonight. And get another image loaded.

Equipment I need desperately. Thickness planner. I suppose I will spend an extra 10 to 20 hours on this project by the time it’s all said and done when I could have had perfectly consistent thicknesses.

I also learned that I should not use another board to set the fence on the table saw. I should use the measurements on the table itself. The Bosch has a magnifier that makes 1/32 of an inch a fairly easy adjustment. I can get real close to 1/64th of an inch. As it stands, I have created a few small gaps I have to fill and I had to resaw a lot of the pieces. I suppose that error has/will cost me 10 hours.

When I resaw, I place a stop block on my TS sled. I place the wood to resaw next to it. I use a sacreficial board on the opposite side to hold my piece in place. As I push the sled I can shave a 32nd off the wood I wan’t to resize. The piece of sacreficial wood take the rest of the cut. It seems to work well. However, I wish I hadn’t messed them up in the first place!

As of last night:

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

9 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10123 posts in 4080 days

#1 posted 07-31-2013 10:22 PM

That looks like a very interesting way to make a table top…


-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2216 days

#2 posted 08-01-2013 02:44 AM

It’s kind of fun Joe. If I weren’t wrestling with issues like exact thickness and width, It would be Very Fun!

I had a little time so I cut and glued up the corners. I began the marathon sanding spree as well. I’ve got to make this thing level. So far, I have most of the surface sanded so the edges are relative to each other. I don’t have any hand planers and I’m out of tool buying budget for a while. I’ll just have to be patient and keep checking with a thick metal straight edge until I’m less than 1/32 off across the table top. I know I’ll have some waves, I just want them to be unnoticeable.

On top of that. I have to do more gap filling that I had hoped for. They are small and one of you masters would notice them right away. The bottom line for me is I think the thing is looking better than I had envisioned. I’m thrilled.

The pictures below show the entire pattern on the top. The light wood is Cherry. I’m going to add a 1X1 border around the whole thing. That border will also be the top of the sides. In the meantime – I’ll be planning with an ROS. Yuck…

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 3961 days

#3 posted 08-01-2013 07:47 AM

Hello Mark! Glad to see you’re making good progress with the table. For the flattening, you could use a router on a sled, with a mortising bit, if you have one. If not, be patient, and maybe use pencil or chalk to mark the high spots, so you can see exactly where to sand between checkings.

I really like how it’s turning out. How do you plan to finish it?

-- Robb

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2300 days

#4 posted 08-01-2013 03:37 PM


...boy-howdy that is one large jigsaw puzzle. I like it…alot.

The duty of the ROS is to remove tool/sanding marks and minute amounts of material.
While a belt sander may level the surface of your table top quicker it would leave noticable sanding scars, especially in the cross grain, which in turn would require you to invest the time with your ROS to remove those.

If your future projects will include more of these beautiful works of art, might I suggest a drum sander (a major tool purchase, but well worth it) to do the final thicknessing, prior to cutting the parts and as with a planer run all your stock thru at the same settings and you will eliminate all but the finish sanding.

With your stock ripped to width, prior to cutting them to final length, you can turn the strips up on edge and fastened face grain to face grain with double stick tape, run them thru the drum sander and you will eliminate the unmatched widths that you have been struggling with.
This may sound like a production tool set-up but you will be pleased to have a drum sander for all your flat surface sanding and final thicknessing.

In the mean time, limiting the time spent pushing that ROS to several short periods will minimize the muscle and tendon strain.

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len.

Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2216 days

#5 posted 08-01-2013 06:03 PM

Hello my friends,

I thank all of you for the kindly comments and solid advice.

Rob, I have been thinking hard about the router sled for a while now. What I’m deliberating is the time and materials to make the sled vs a one time job with the ROS. I have so many “what if” scenarios going through head that I think I’ll stick with the ROS route.

As far as finish I’m painting it. ;)

Maybe not. I have thinking tung oil with a high quality urethane top coat. The only thing is. The tung oil darkens the wood. I may loose some of my contrast. Any recommendations?


You’re the second well respected LJ who has guided me to a drum sander. In your opinion, which should come first. Planner or drum sander?

All the drum sanders I have seen come with garnet drums. I haven’t seen any ceramic drums at the woodworking stores. If you advise drum sander first, I’ll have to try and find out if “woodsmith” makes drums. If you have alternate suggestions. I’ll be real happy to hear them.

To level the top. I’m using 40 grit on the Dewalt at high speed. As long as I go slow, I don’t expect to find many spin marks. I’ll be using a metal straight edge to help me find the lowest spots. That will be after I get rid of the obvious little ridges. I think it will work well if not be extremely slow. I’m ok with slow. I’ll just spend time with the sander and my maker. I look forward to it.

Thanks for the health tip. I’ll be careful.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2300 days

#6 posted 08-01-2013 06:38 PM


If you are buying s4s (surfaced 4 sides) lumber for your projects AND using the full thickness of that type of lumber, IMHO, a drum sander makes a lot of sence. It will work well with exotic woods and those with wild grain patterns. As a thicknesser, 1/64th to maybe 1/32nd of stock removal, per pass, would be an aggressive task.
If you have a Jointer you could reduce the thickness of the lumber (limited to the width of the cutter head) with it.

If you are considering buying rough sawn lumber a planer may be your best 1st investment.

...just my thoughts on this.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#7 posted 08-01-2013 06:59 PM

Looks real good Mark.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2216 days

#8 posted 08-01-2013 09:47 PM

Len – That makes perfect sense. Thank you.

Mike – I really appreciate your compliment. Your work is light years ahead of mine. It’s always feels good when someone, who does really fine work, gives me the thumbs up.


-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2216 days

#9 posted 08-03-2013 03:13 AM

Tonight I was paying part of the price for not having a planer. 2.5 hours of sanding. I think It looks a lot better but it’s no time to celebrate. I have between 2 and 4 hours of sanding left just to level the rest of the top. Please tell Santa to send me a planer for Christmas. ;)

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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