confused concrete!

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Project by nztoby posted 09-19-2009 01:32 PM 2021 views 8 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

hi there fellow woodworkers!
this is my first post here on lumber jocks! i have been a lurker here for a few months and have finally got around to posting one of my projects.
the inspiration came whilst working on a building site pouring a floor slab. when dismantling the boxing i found the exposed timber had a very warm look against the harsh medium of concrete and created an interesting contrast. I found myself pondering… “i wonder how furniture could use this contrast”. thus the design was born.
the piece is designed as a sideboard meets hall table kinda thing however once built i thought it would make for a great entertainment unit (now i just need to convince the Mrs too let me get a flat screen :D). the concrete was precast in a form built by me out of melamine. the top surface is secured to the concrete with dyna bolts (trade name for sleeve anchors) and the bottom shelve sits on a corner brace which is secured to concrete with tex screws. The timber is Rimu, a common yet relatively expensive native hardwood from New Zealand. it is four by 2 boards laminated together, the boards came out of old state housing frame work.

things learnt from this project:
- concrete is heavy!!!!!!! (I managed to overlook the wight factor when casting the legs…. result was each leg weighing 60kg….. next time i will use polystyrene in the middle of the cast… easily halving the weight)
-short sleeve anchors are a waste of time
- if you *&^%$ up tell people it adds to the industrial look of the piece :D

all up a great learning experience and will be continuing to build with timber and concrete.
please let me know what you think….. criticisms and suggestions more than welcome.

signing out….. Toby from down under.

14 comments so far

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3366 days

#1 posted 09-19-2009 01:46 PM

nice looking table ,
and a good marriage of materials .

how does the poly stuff in the middle work ?
how do you do it ?

welcome !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View StevenAntonucci's profile


355 posts in 3963 days

#2 posted 09-19-2009 02:24 PM

I like the mixed-media project you’ve made. I have been contemplating a bench using a simiilar technique. Did you use concrete stains or acids to color (warm) the concrete. Finally, did you seal the concrete with anything?

I might just go make that form now…

-- Steven

View Alan's profile


443 posts in 3429 days

#3 posted 09-19-2009 03:29 PM

Nice project, that wood has a very nice color. I also like the look of concrete and wood. If I ever get my outside patio done, I plan on using concrete and cedar to make some benches and tables. Thanks for posting.

-- Alan, Prince George

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3602 days

#4 posted 09-19-2009 04:08 PM

Creative design choice

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View nztoby's profile


14 posts in 3197 days

#5 posted 09-19-2009 09:01 PM

thanks for the warm responses! much appreciated.
patron: polystyrene = packaging foam you pour say 30mm of concrete into the form then rest the poly on the wet mix and complete the pour… this completely covers the polystyrene, thus leaving the concrete less backbreaking. (this is what happens in house floor slabs but for insulation as opposed to weight).
steven: i chose not to use any stains of acids to alter the concrete as i was aiming for a rough industrial look. because the legs will never be subject to any form of moisture a sealer is not necessary however i’m currently in the process of creating another table with a concrete top, this will surely be sealed so as to protect from moisture of any kind! go make that form! concrete is a forgiving material that complements timber extremely well! (if you are using sharp corners lay a bead of silicon along these to both soften and protect the cast! GOOD LUCK!!
i forgot to mention earlier, bill of materials approx $60nzd or $40usd
sorry about the long reply! Toby

View hrvoje's profile


272 posts in 3372 days

#6 posted 09-19-2009 09:53 PM

i like the mix…cold concrete and wood go well together..i made a chair of concrete and wood need to take a photo of it…and yes concrete is heavy as hell

-- hrvoje

View Ricksc's profile


1 post in 3371 days

#7 posted 09-20-2009 12:20 AM

I’m impressed. Will leave it to you to make my furniture for me now! Keen on seeing the results of the next project.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3241 posts in 3737 days

#8 posted 09-20-2009 05:53 AM


Nice design. You can lighten the concrete still further by using an expanded shale aggregate. (The company for which I worked years ago assisted University engineering students with a lightweight concrete aggregate for their concrete canoes.)

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View mcoyfrog's profile


4145 posts in 3619 days

#9 posted 09-21-2009 08:09 PM

Great table, i’ve been wanting to mix the two mediums myself, guess i’ll have to give it a try.

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View jeffreythree's profile


38 posts in 3200 days

#10 posted 09-22-2009 09:26 PM

I think I just found some inspiration for a picnic table at my pond using eastern red ceadar for the wood bits. Nice table, by the way.

-- My Etsy store:

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3295 days

#11 posted 09-22-2009 09:48 PM

Gives me a bit of nostalgia….In my younger days….when furniture was more an item of utility vs expense…we would use cinder or foundation block to make furniture. I had a bookcase, a table…a couch and a coffee table made that way. It was easy and very inexpensive to design stuff in that fashion.

Wood does go very well with the look of concrete…it would just be the weight factor that somewhat lessens the impact. Even with cinder block…which weigh significantly less than a solid block…the items were too heavy to move assembled…luckily cinder blocks come apart. Perhaps that is the solution here…make the concrete parts that can be dissasembled into smaller components. Otherwise, perhaps using a synthetic concrete (plastic) would be a lighter substitute.

All in all though this isn’t criticism. Your table is beautiful….that wood has exquisite grain…Rimu? I have not seen much if any of this wood available here in the states…yet if it is somewhat expensive in NZ I would suspect it would be outrageous here.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View nztoby's profile


14 posts in 3197 days

#12 posted 09-22-2009 11:58 PM

thanks for the kind words reggiek!
this piece has been designed to be able to be disassemble with ease due to the weight factor!
cinderblocks is a great idea! however do you join these together? or do they just sit on top of one another?
i think i have found a couple of ways to significantly lighten the concrete… one is to have a majority of the volume filled with a peice of polystyrene (would remove almost all of the weight but would also comprimise strength)
The other i have read about is to substitute the aggregate (normally gravel) with bean bag fillers, thus removing a massive amount of the weight whilst still keeping a solid form.
as for the rimu wood… it is one of our most common native trees down here in NZ however because of this fact it was logged intensively for over 100 years which has resulted in a logging ban. it is an extremely hard wood that works nicely. due to the fact the wood was so readily available 50+ years ago it was used for construction purposes and as a result the older places that are being demolished or renovated have abundent recycled rimu available. it is the most popular wood for furniture in NZ and ups the value of the piece significantly!
thanks for your interest!

View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3132 days

#13 posted 01-17-2010 06:23 AM

thats pretty dang cool

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View Artie2's profile


6 posts in 3075 days

#14 posted 01-20-2010 12:51 AM

I love that. Nice work. Part of the reason I joined this forum was for some ideas for our kitchen remodel. I’m hoping to do concrete, (or ferrocement), countertops.

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