|Project by Zasquatch||posted 11-25-2015 02:31 PM||4181 views||14 times favorited||8 comments|
Finally finished the top!!! This was long overdue, but winter put a serious snag in my plans. It was too darn cold in the garage to do any sort of finishing. I think the results speak for themselves and we couldn’t be happier with the look! I used about 4-5 coats of Arm-r-seal gloss topped with 2-3 coats of satin. I gotta say, the gloss was amazing to use…. but not the satin. I kept getting swirl and streak marks and for the life of me couldn’t get rid of them. They aren’t screaming, but I notice them every time I sit down since I’m a perfectionist. Oh well, my hope is that as the top wears they will be less noticeable.
Well this project has been a long time in the making! It is my first major project, and the value of the skills and experience gained throughout the process is immeasurable. It all started when my wife and I decided the existing hand-me-down table we had in the dining room simply didn’t suit our needs or tastes. We live in coastal CT, and have been traveling down the “rustic coastal” interior look. We started looking online for table ideas and stumbled upon one at Restoration hardware: I sold the idea of getting our own reclaimed wood and allowing me to take the journey to table creation :)
I originally had some trouble finding a reasonable selection of reclaimed wood at reasonable prices…. I eventually found http://www.ctriverlumberco.com/ and have to say they exceeded my expectations. Huge selection of reclaimed woods, live edge slabs, standard wood species, etc. Great people and overall great experience. What I ended up with were a mix of spruce and oak 4×4’s from an old tobacco storehouse (this stuff smells AMAZING when cut) and 3” tongue and groove planks from an old thimble factory a few towns over.
I laid out my plans with rough dimensions and started making cuts. In the spirit of the reclaimed-rustic look, I sort of made things up as I went along, playing around before deciding on what fit my vision. I decided to do all thru-tenon joinery for the base structure. I do not have a drill press (on santa’s wish list though :) ) so I had to get creative with how to drill straight through-holes and angled holes in the 4×4’s…... Luckily I am an engineer and have access to PTC Creo and a few 3D printers! I designed some jigs to assist in drilling and went to town.
The results were great! Keep in mind this is a large rustic table…. and my first time ever working M&T joinery, so I know they are pretty rough. In the end the base turned out ROCK SOLID with a great look.
Next up were the angled accent pieces connecting the upper and lower longitudinal beams. I ordered some 3”x1/8” steel and went to town with an angle grinder. I hand-made all the brackets, and over time they should lose their sine and develop a nice patina. Once these were bolted on, I used a vinegar / steel wool mixture to treat all my exposed cuts so they matched the color of the natural weathered wood.
With the base done, it was time to tackle the top….. something I was pretty scared of going into. I tossed around two major ideas on how to deal with the cupped/twisted/warped boards. Option 1 was a traditional approach: flatten all the stock, square off the edges, and do a standard glue-up. Option two was to glue all the boards together using the existing tongue and groove, then make a router sled and flatten. I chose option 2.
This was by far the most fun of the project and I am glad I went this route. My shop was covered with 2” of dust and chips by the end but the results were just amazing.
Massive router sled:
The results speak for themselves…. Dead flat!
Next up was the fitting of the breadboards. I used draw-bore dowels, gluing only the center ~8” and elongating the outboard holes to allow movement. Keep in mind the table thickness is about 2 3/8” so the tenons are a bit longer than they look in pictures.
I was actually very surprised how solid of a joint this makes. If you put your weight on one side there is a little movement of course, but overall I was amazed how solid it is.
After the glue dried, dowels were trimmed and my wife went to town with the sander. The results are absolutely stunning and actually completely fulfill my grand vision! See gallery photos for the finished (unfinished) table! I went into this expecting disasters along the way, and a final product that had us wishing we just bought something premade….. Quite the opposite! It’s been an amazing journey – But it’s not over!
My deadline for having the table at a useable state was Thanksgiving…. which I beat by a couple days :) After we show it off, this means covering it with a plastic table cloth liner as well as a cloth tablecloth, but that’s a necessary precaution dealing with raw wood.
Next up is finishing. The base will remain unfinished. For the top, we are leaning towards a 50/50 mix of minwax Ebony and Dark Walnut, to give a nice dark brown color. I am also toying with the idea of a grey / ebony mix to give more of a dark grey wash look. Regardless of color, we plan on coating with a satin poly for long lasting durable finish. Sound like the right way to go?
As always, suggestions on finishing are greatly encouraged! Once complete I will post some more pictures.
I am also wondering if I need to fix the top to the base? The thing weighs 400,000,000 lbs so it isn’t going anywhere on its own, but I know for thinner tops you want to fix it to the base to prevent warping. Do I need to worry about a top this thick warping???
Thanks for looking, I look forward to hearing comments and suggestions!