Glass top coffee table

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Project by Pankratio posted 08-11-2009 02:00 AM 1453 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Coffee table on a … vague commission. I had nearly completed this table in a pretty busy style when the client phoned and said he wanted something much simpler, and to do it in oak rather than the original teak/beech alternating lamination.

The client had the tabletop lying around for years, and its pattern of isometric cubes led me to a design that incorporated a lot of 30 degree angles. I included one photo from the earlier, unfinished design – it feature teak and beech throughout, box-jointed corners (a little fun since the teak layers and beech layers were of different thicknesses) and inlayed strips that were about 7/8 by 3/8 and held the short grain sections of the panels together. The teak pieces came out of some bifold closet doors and the beech was from a couch.

For the newer, simpler design, however…

Total time was about 20 hours. Almost half of that was salvaging the wood out of a couch someone was throwing out. The rails, legs and shelf are all oak, and the stretchers that the shelf sits on, as well as the inlays and splines are all beech. Every stick in this table came out of a couch, except for one of the rails which I ripped out of a piano. The finish is Minwax ‘Provençal’ The stretchers that the shelf sits on are through-tenonned into the legs. The inlays in the legs hide screw holes that were already in the lumber and reinforce the legs’ rabbet-joint.

As my personal style is evolving, I find I like to cut my through-tenons ‘not quite flush’ with the surfaces they protrude through. I don’t take it too far – to me, the Greene and Greene ebony pegs and proud finger joints are just a little too far. I like someone to be able to just feel a slightly organic hump if they run their finger over the ‘flush’ surface. It makes the joint feel more authentic to me.

Using salvaged wood, I often during the milling stage have a rough length and layout workout on in pencil on the piece – that way if I can’t avoid any large voids or staple holes I can at least line them all up in the same place on the different pieces, and run a strip of inlay in that area. I admit it – I cheat – I use inlaid strips to hide ugly parts of otherwise beautiful wood AND to shore up structurally weak sections. It’s a kind of cheating I love, though, and in the past 4 months, trying my hand at having lumberjockery pay for my schooling, I haven’t bought a single stick of wood.

This ‘two tables for the price of one’ deal, though, was certainly a major learning experience.

ciao for now!


I wish I had taken some more photos of the finished piece – I didn’t have much time, the client took it home in his truck while the finish was still tacky.

All in all, the project is filed under ‘Learning experiences for minimum wage’. Next up is a hall table with Ruhlmann legs. We’ll see how that one goes!

-- I am the man in the arena. Q-Woodworks

8 comments so far

View cypresswoodworker's profile


89 posts in 3368 days

#1 posted 08-11-2009 02:11 AM

Just my thoughts…The busyer verson looked 1000 times greater.You can’t please all the people all the time.
Draw it out next time..Learn sketch up it will save time and materials. Your vision and other are never the same..Been there done that!!!

-- If at first you don't succeed...Buy another tool !!

View Pankratio's profile


15 posts in 3378 days

#2 posted 08-11-2009 03:23 AM

Thanks, cypress.

Learning sketchup is now at number 2 on my to-do list.

-- I am the man in the arena. Q-Woodworks

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4422 days

#3 posted 08-11-2009 03:35 AM

Great looking table nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Sef's profile


114 posts in 3673 days

#4 posted 08-11-2009 04:12 AM

I’m with cypress. The busy version is head and shoulders above the other. You came up with a great match for that top.

-- I may not know a lot, but at least I know that I don't know.?.?. I think.

View Quixote's profile


206 posts in 3660 days

#5 posted 08-11-2009 05:07 AM

I’ve noticed that some peoples mock ups look better than my finished product.

Very interesting design, thanks for sharing.


-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3719 days

#6 posted 08-11-2009 04:10 PM

Everybody have their own design,nice work, great job.
Share some more your doing good.

View Nothlion's profile


3 posts in 3377 days

#7 posted 08-16-2009 08:52 PM

It’s quite beautiful in it’s simplicity, the picture really doesn’t do it justice . I know this because I’ve seen it first hand. It is quite Frank Loyd Wright inspired. Well done Pankratio!

-- Nothlion

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#8 posted 08-16-2009 09:00 PM

Very cool design well done

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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