|Project by toddbeaulieu||posted 12-10-2015 07:24 PM||2351 views||16 times favorited||17 comments|
My Mother in Law asked for a rustic coffee table for XMAS and I decided to try my hand at reclaimed lumber. Found a bunch on CL from a renovation of an old home in a city neighboring Boston. The site of all that hardware was a bit depressing, leading to some second thoughts.
I hunkered down with the metal detector and an assortment of tools.
While I’ve never heard the term “skip jointing”, that’s what I did so get the wood minimally true without losing too much of the character. Planed, as well, of course.
Because it’s 8/4 lumber I wanted the scale to match. It’s probably a big larger than she had in mind, but hey … I’m an arteest! The scale and design are entirely organic. At one point I did check it against the Golden Ratio and it failed. According to said recommendation the length would have stopped at the breadboard ends. Some on you may have been involved in my thread about how to add the ends without losing any of the existing top to the tenons. The answer was floating tenons, which I messed up, but got away with it.
Oh lookie what we have here! A hidden treasure!
My mortising chisel, polished to an 8,000 ceramic stone is a much better metal detector than any fancy electronic gizmo!
Ok, so off to the base. I had this OLD hand hewn post lying around, which seemed like it would make nice legs. I wanted to work the peg hole into the plan somehow but couldn’t think of anything. I saved it just in case.
There was some punkiness, especially on one leg. I used multiple applications of a “petrifier” solution, trying to get it to really soak in well. I was able to mortise all but one connection on one of the legs. For that I carefuly cut away the fibers with a knife to accept the entire stretcher, hoping to get a good looking joint through the funky profile.
Unfortunately I had already scribed a shoulder line, which is now visible. NBD. I used a lot of CA and wood glue in the mortise before assembling to try to strengthen the punky material. I’m very happy with the results. I think it looks pretty good. I decided to try cutting all the tenons by hand. I need a lot more practice, but my sexy shoulder plane and some more practice saved the day with reasonably tight joints.
To attach the tops I cut out mortises around the aprons and fabricated floating tenon blocks (no idea what to call them) to let me clamp down the top, while still accommodating floating, width-wise. I simply used solid cleats at the center of each long end, where it won’t move that much.
After pulling all the hardware, milling and assembling the table I decided to add some of back in! What the heck, right? So I put quie a few variously sized nails (mostly cut) and even a couple of staples back in. I filled a lot of the cracks with CA, including some black CA. For finish, I used my go-to Arm-R-Seal, followed by multiple applications of various gel glazing/stains. I found the bare pine with varnish to be a bit too clear for my liking and was able to add enough color and depth this way, while also accentuating some of the pits, cracks and dents. I tried not to make them consistent.
I stumbled across a trick that I like with the large planer. By setting the depth of cut minimally the teeth marks contribute to the rough sawn and rustic appearance.
For the lower shelf I used wide boards from my attic (1730 home) that I planed down on the lower sides until I liked the weight against the rest of the table. I installed them with cut nails that I had removed from my home. The lower shelf, which I had debated, actually looks great.
I’m quite happy with the overall results. It’s a solid, honest table and I feel that while there are a few minor imperfections most people would never notice. Additionally, I believe it will hold up over time. I like the richness of the finish and I absolutely LOVE the lumber’s story. Harvested over 100 years ago it was used and abused for a century and instead of going to the dump was respected and put into a lovely new form that will be loved for years to come. I got a lot of great practice with the hand planes, saws and chisels. I know she’ll love it.