Albizia coffee table

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Project by watermark posted 12-03-2015 08:09 AM 1051 views 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This table was the first piece I have made just to sell and it was a nightmare to finish. Trying to finish it took over 2 years sitting for months between 14 failed attempts.
The table top is Albizia which is an invasive species here in Hawaii. They grow huge and fast. This is one of 4 cross cut slabs I milled from a stump left behind from clearing a lot by my house. The legs are Ohia salvaged from a neighbor’s lot after the tree died. Legs are joined to the top with four 5/8 dowels in each. Bowties are Mango and Hala.
The finish is water born poly sanded to 2000 and buffed out.

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

9 comments so far

View tyvekboy's profile


1830 posts in 3251 days

#1 posted 12-03-2015 01:31 PM

Nice table. You did a nice job.

It almost looks like the island of Oahu.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2582 days

#2 posted 12-03-2015 02:10 PM

looks great

View Bill_Steele's profile


459 posts in 1970 days

#3 posted 12-03-2015 06:03 PM

Nice work! I think the shape is interesting. Is it heavy?

View JKMDETAIL's profile


217 posts in 1893 days

#4 posted 12-03-2015 06:14 PM

After that much time I think I would have to keep it. Nice work.

View watermark's profile


483 posts in 2181 days

#5 posted 12-03-2015 10:02 PM

Bill it’s not as heavy as it looks the top is a really light wood. But at 3” thick it is still a beast.

Alex you are not the first one to say that. It has a unique shape and looks like all kinds of things. There is a face in there if you look at it from the right direction too.

JKM It’s sold already and I can’t wait to see it go. Love hate relationship ship. I really liked it in the start but it gave me so much trouble I am ready to part with it and free up some garage space for the next challenge

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

View tool_junkie's profile


326 posts in 2767 days

#6 posted 12-04-2015 12:53 AM

Looks really unique and well built.

You are really persistent. I would have given up in the 3rd attempt!

Would you be willing to share the lessons learned from this build? Like, what gave you trouble?

View watermark's profile


483 posts in 2181 days

#7 posted 12-05-2015 04:42 AM

Tool_junkie I learnt a lot from peoples help with my forum on the finish

I think a big part of the trouble was the type of wood and that the whole surface is end grain. First couple attempts were with oil based poly and I messed them up sanding too far & not knowing how to buff out the final finish.

From there I had a shot at spraying lacquer but bought a gun with the wrong sized tip and despite hours and miles of construction paper I couldn’t get decent results.

I went back to poly and started having trouble with bubbles I think were coming from the porous end grain and tried to remedy that by doing a seal coat with zinser shelac sanding sealer. The wood soaked that up so fast I could not get a smooth finish with a brush and had real bad sanding scratches showing through the poly.

I finally tried 3x thick water based poly from rustoleum and my troubles with the bubbles continued and also with solids that were in the finish but after 4 coats with sanding in between and sanding the final coat to 2000 grit and buffing out with an automotive buffer and compound I got something I can live with but would not settle for if it was my first attempt.

You can check out my other forum post from the build leveling legs

I think it is good that I had this much trouble on the first piece I built just for the sake of selling so now I know how bad things can go wrong when I take on paid projects in the future.

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

View tool_junkie's profile


326 posts in 2767 days

#8 posted 12-13-2015 05:14 AM


Thanks for the detailed reply to my question. You indeed went through a lot of trouble to get to where the table is now. I have a few end grain discs drying that I plan on turning into tables. Given your experience, would you advise one particular finish over the other? What should I watch out for?


View watermark's profile


483 posts in 2181 days

#9 posted 12-14-2015 09:56 PM

My experience wasn’t good so I think your best bet would be to start a thread with your question. Even with all my trials and troubles basically all I learnt was I need to learn to finish better hahahhaha.

The important thing I learned was I can buff out the fine scratches after sanding and had I known that the table would have been finished at my second attempt with just oil based poly and that’s how I will approach the 3 other pieces I have left from the same stump when ever I get the courage to try it again.

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

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