Veneered Sofa Table #8: Making the top

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Blog entry by SPHinTampa posted 12-13-2011 01:52 AM 2565 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: More fun with finishing Part 8 of Veneered Sofa Table series Part 9: Finished just in time for Christmas »

Have completed my experimentation with finishing, it is time to finalize the table top.

I cut the frame pieces for the table top from the same stock I used for the legs and sides. This turned out to make the table top glue up a little more complicated because I ended trying to place a 3/4” panel in a frame made of 15/16” thick stock. Note that I cut the long members a little wider than the short members so that I can trim them for a final fit around the panel (I will explain further down)

First step, cut the frame members to length. I marked the desired length on my first piece and then clamped the second frame member to the first, used a marking knife to mark a length to match and then used the RAS to “sneak up” on the scribe line on the second piece to get identical lengths.

I then used a sacrificial fence, aligned using a plastic drafting square, screwed into the RAS table top to cut the miters on the frame members.

End up with four mitered pieces and one square cross piece (long pieces not showing).

Lay out to check fit

I then check the squareness of the miters with both a drafting square and against my panel.

Good fit here.

This one needed a little time with a block plane and a shooting board to clean up.

Initially I tried to use dowel joinery to fit in the center piece.

But I had trouble getting the assembly to clamp completely square. So instead I went with loose tenon joinery where I cut the mortise on the outer frame member slight large so that the tenon could slide a little during the glue up.

So I cut a 1/2” wide mortise in the cross piece.

Fit it with a 1/2” wide loose tenon.

Cut a 3/4” wide mortise in the frame piece.

This provided some give during the final assembly with an acceptable loss of strength in the joint.

For framed panel glue ups, I glue the ends to the panels first, being very careful to keep the miter end aligned with the board end.

This lets me fit the long pieces exactly. Remember how I said that I left the long pieces slightly wider (around a 1/16th). Now I place the long pieces in place. If my measurements are slightly short in the final assembly, I plane the inside of the frame member, effectively lengthening the inside measurement. If it is too long, I can fix on the shooting board by trimming the miter. If I get it exactly right, I can plane the outside edge of the member to match the width of the ends.

You may ask yourself, why make this complicated. Well, if I could cut the miters to 0.001 precision angles, and assemble the compound panel exactly perfectly and make sure nothing slipped during glue up then you would be right … I would not need to give myself any room to make corrections. However, I don’t like hairline gaps or miter corners that don’t meet perfectly and this gives me a little room to make last minute corrections.

Next step, glue up the long frame members. (note the finished panel is the top, the unfinished sides are the bottom).

With the glue up finished, I use a plane to level the frame to the panel. I use blue tape as an early warning system to keep me from hitting the panel with the plane blade.

I then finish the outer edge of the panel using a router with a round over bit. I like to use the hand held rather than the router table because it follows any inconsistencies in the top better rather than a bit buried in a fence. This avoids highlighting flaws in the top with an inconsistent profile if I needed to remove a touch more of the panel frame to match it to the center panel. In this case, creep during glue up lowered my panel by about 3/32” in the top right corner which I needed to level out.

Final sanding of the routed profile using sanding blocks followed by really good clean up.

Then I stained piece using light walnut dye to match existing furniture in the room.

Next week .. attach the top to the table and add the top coat.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

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