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Outdoor Red Cedar and Cypress Farm Table

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Project by gabriellus posted 09-21-2015 01:51 PM 2320 views 11 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Initial Plans (much modifying)

It all started a little more than 3 months ago with about 200 board feet of 8/4 Cypress and Red Cedar. I was hoping to build totally out of cedar, but there wasn’t enough 8/4 at the sawmill.

Here’s the glue up for the legs. I did a glue up with TB3, but since the cypress still had some moisture in it, the glue line was failing. What’s pictured is with Gorilla poly glue, which I ended up using for about every subsequent step in the table.

I wanted to do a fully housed lap for the short side lower brace, but my dado stack didnt go high enough (6” stack, grrrrrr), so I split the difference and made the joint half lapped.

My first ever tenons, cut on the table saw with a dado stack. Pictured is the short apron.

All milled and ready for assembly, or so I thought:

My first homemade dowels, 5/16”, using a homemade doweling plate that I built out of a steel flat bar. Just chuck up the square in your drill and feed it through the hole. I later added a 3/8” hole for pocket hole sized dowels.

These are my first set of mortises, followed by my second set. Notice how they get, you know, better :D. Cut using a plunge router. I got the dimensions of these M&T way the hell off. There wasn’t enough material on the top side of the mortises to provide any real strength, you can see one of the tops of the mortises actually got blown out when the router banged into it. I didn’t sweat it, all the gnarly mortise walls and edges are hidden after assembly anyway.

I pegged the tenons in place with dowels, here is the leg subassembly glue up. Note the shopmade right angle squares in the inside corners:

And the table base glue up:

Here is where I encountered my first major problem. The short-end aprons were glued-together cypress, strong as Hades. The long ends, however, were just a single board, and during the dry assembly there was a TON of flex. I didnt have any 80” stock to mill up to add to reinforce. I hit the web and found something called the “tabled lap joint”, a method to join boards together on their end grain. I built 2 long 2×3s out of cypress scrap using this joint, splined and glued them together to the inside of the tenoned long apron, and I had a ton of strength along the length of the table.

Close-up of the tabled lap joint:

I assembled the tabletop in subassemblies small enough to go through my 12” planer to provide uniform thickness. Here’s a pic of one of those tabletop glue ups:

The whole tabletop, post-glueup and pre-breadboard end:

Here’s a shot of the breadboard end in the vise, with the router and shopmade fence in the background. This was my favorite part of the project:

The breadboard end assembly. I don’t have a picture of the tongue I cut out of the tabletop, which I regret.

The low long braces on the legs were too thin and wobbly, so I half-lapped and glued some stubby little cedar spacers to tie them together. Here are the routed channels on the underside to accept them:

The completed base, with 2 cedar uprights tying the lower braces to the strong top assembly. I plugged all the pocket holes with shopmade dowels:

I finished the base with 2 coats (or so) of Epifanes High Gloss clear varnish, and the top got about 6 or 7 coats after I prepped all the flaws and nastiness with epoxy.

Out on the deck, attaching the base, the FINAL step, and my wife tells me, “it’s too tall.” Breathe….breathe…...OK. I marked down a certain height from the base’s top edge, marking and scribing to remove maybe 2 inches from the bottom of the leg. Any more would make the proportions of the bracing look stupid. Busted out my cheap, hardly-used Stanley hand miter saw and sawed off the bottoms. Talk about last minute changes!!!

I used pocket holes to attach the top to the base, and I reamed out the pilot holes to 3x the Kreg diameter to allow for seasonal wood movement. Crossing fingers?

All in all, my favorite project to date. I tried new things at about every step, and made a million mistakes. But woodworking is like life like that, I guess, its about hiding your mistakes. Ha!





11 comments so far

View John's profile

John

463 posts in 733 days


#1 posted 09-21-2015 03:23 PM

Beautiful job, I couldn’t have drilled the hole in it. Nice contrast of Yellow and Red Cedar.

-- John, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada.

View Grumpymike's profile

Grumpymike

1917 posts in 1778 days


#2 posted 09-21-2015 06:57 PM

I hope that you’ve not created a monster with the bread board ends; normally the mortise is not continuous across the entire length, but cut in sections with an extra bit on the ends to allow for expansion.
Usually it is secured at the center allowing the wood to move laterally (side to side). Where yours is pegged and glued all the way across might cause some problems, worst of all cracking. I surely hope not.
It is indeed a beautiful table, the bottom stretcher is a nice touch to complement the stripes in the top (I’m not sure if they are cedar sapwood or cypress)
I’m with John, I would have a hard time drilling the umbrella hole in a gorgeous top like that.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View gabriellus's profile

gabriellus

47 posts in 840 days


#3 posted 09-21-2015 07:08 PM

Good catch mike. God, I love lumberjocks. The tongue, or tenon, that mates inside the bb end stops short of the ends by 1/2 on each side, allowing for movement. I didn’t have a pic of that, it was real sweet too. Damn. That said, this was the height of summer humidity using not-exactly-green-not-exactly-dried cypress. I’m expecting shrinking, if anything.

Also, only the center of the bb end and that set of dowels were glued, the rest were only driven in place thorough laterally elongated holes in the tenon, also allowing for movement but securing the bb end.

The table was always meant to go outside, I didn’t hesitate drilling the hole for a second.


I hope that you ve not created a monster with the bread board ends; normally the mortise is not continuous across the entire length, but cut in sections with an extra bit on the ends to allow for expansion.
Usually it is secured at the center allowing the wood to move laterally (side to side). Where yours is pegged and glued all the way across might cause some problems, worst of all cracking. I surely hope not.
It is indeed a beautiful table, the bottom stretcher is a nice touch to complement the stripes in the top (I m not sure if they are cedar sapwood or cypress)
I m with John, I would have a hard time drilling the umbrella hole in a gorgeous top like that.

- Grumpymike


View Moosesman's profile

Moosesman

132 posts in 1967 days


#4 posted 09-21-2015 11:44 PM

Beautiful table!!!!

-- The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication: that is why so many bad artists are unable to give it up. Jean Cocteau

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

5049 posts in 2610 days


#5 posted 09-21-2015 11:49 PM

Well, despite any goofs encountered, this table turned out wonderfully! I’m sure you and your family will enjoy many fine meals around it!

-- Dean

View mcg1990's profile

mcg1990

159 posts in 755 days


#6 posted 09-22-2015 01:51 AM

That’s fantastic. Mind if I ask what finish you used? It looks like a real nice thick varnish to me.

How do such solid finishes fare with movement taking place? For example the far sides of each breadboard end, where you can get movements of 1/4” or more. Can film forming finishes stretch that much?

View Pointer's profile

Pointer

369 posts in 574 days


#7 posted 09-22-2015 02:03 AM

Beautiful table. I really like the robust look and the color.

-- Joe - - Laughter is like a windshied wiper, it doesn't stop the rain but allows us to keep going.

View gabriellus's profile

gabriellus

47 posts in 840 days


#8 posted 09-22-2015 12:17 PM



That s fantastic. Mind if I ask what finish you used? It looks like a real nice thick varnish to me.

How do such solid finishes fare with movement taking place? For example the far sides of each breadboard end, where you can get movements of 1/4” or more. Can film forming finishes stretch that much?

- mcg1990

This is the product I used : LINK

This video is excellent at explaining how to make sense of these types of finishes: LINK

This product is designed for use on boat hulls, where movement and flexing are the norm. I suppose we shall see how it holds up, time will tell.

View whitebeast88's profile

whitebeast88

4092 posts in 1653 days


#9 posted 09-23-2015 12:38 AM

Beautiful table.thanks for the pics of the build.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Rob23's profile

Rob23

25 posts in 1003 days


#10 posted 09-23-2015 05:21 PM

that is a gorgeous piece. Also love the tabled-lap joint. One of my favourite projects for sure. Well done!

View CerberusWoodCo's profile

CerberusWoodCo

28 posts in 734 days


#11 posted 09-24-2015 04:50 PM

Really sweet color contrasts!

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