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Honey Locust Coffee Table W/ Dovetail Legs

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Project by Spacehog posted 03-26-2016 08:53 PM 823 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project is certainly my most ambitious yet! I’ve made 5 tables before this, but they have all been very cheap and functional things that I slapped together from scrap pine. It is in my nature to cut corners, but I’m trying to overcome that weakness. My woodworking teacher always used to say, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right!” I doubt that he’s the original author of that quote, but on my good days I try to follow it. For this project, I decided that I would follow that maxim as closely as I could.

To begin, I started with all rough cut honey locust that I got from the sawmill. I had never worked with honey locust before, but the price was right, and so was the toughness. I didn’t learn until later that honey locust’s complex grain (which looks great) makes it a bit tricky to work with. I made the table top first, and that presented me with my first interesting problem. I began by biscuit jointing the 5 planks of wood together, which was fairly painless. As I was putting them together, I decided that I liked the middle piece so much, that I let the bark and cambium be on top because of all the different colors that piece displays. I’m going with an extremely rugged finish because my kids (age 3 and 6) will definitely be putting this table through its paces. After getting all 5 of the first planks joined, I realized that I had a major problem though. None of my clamps were long enough to clamp the 2 end pieces! So for that I made some extenders for my clamps which ended up working really well. I’m going to post some pictures of those clamp extenders after I post this project. For the end pieces I used dowels instead of biscuits.After finishing the top, I sealed it with de-waxed shellac.

For the skirt/apron I decided to have 2 cross pieces for added strength. I cut a mortise hole and had the bottom of the plank come through as a through tenon. On the outside of the mortise, I cut the hole slightly larger than the entrance point. This allowed my home made wedges to spread out and hold the piece fast. For the skirt/apron I sealed with de-waxed shellac and then applied 5 coats of Arm-R-Seal.

For the legs I had a new problem; I couldn’t find any pieces of honey locust that was thicker than 5/4. I wanted to get 4 fairly thick pieces that I could turn on the lathe, but there simply wasn’t any to be had. I could have stacked a few pieces together to make my own thick piece, or I could go another direction. I decided to make some dovetailed legs of the 5/4 pieces I had. They are all cut by hand, and I am very pleased with how they turned out! This table is quite stout and the legs are probably much stronger than what I would have had if I could have found a thicker piece of stock.

Finally, to attach the top to the skirt/apron I made wood buttons that can slide with the table top over time. I’m told that attaching the top in this way prevents cracking that might normally occur if the table top is secured without room to move a bit.

To demonstrate the table’s strength, I got on the table with my wife and kids and all 4 of us jumped up and down for a while. The table wouldn’t budge at all and there was no creaking whatsoever. The only downside is that the table is actually quite heavy compared to the one it is replacing. But I expect that it will last considerably longer than I do, so I’m pretty pleased with it!

-- Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...





8 comments so far

View oldrivers's profile

oldrivers

691 posts in 962 days


#1 posted 03-27-2016 01:05 AM

Mighty fine! that honey locus is one tuff board and I like the appearance of locus, good job. my dad used that line on often; he is passed now but I always remember what he said. great memories.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14906 posts in 2085 days


#2 posted 03-27-2016 01:26 AM

Outstanding job using some beautiful (and really hard wood).

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Spacehog's profile

Spacehog

65 posts in 920 days


#3 posted 03-27-2016 02:49 AM

Yes, it is hard indeed! I was so surprised to see that it is harder than both red and white oak according to The Wood Database. I think I’ll be using it again before too long.

-- Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...

View david38's profile

david38

2318 posts in 1739 days


#4 posted 03-27-2016 01:51 PM

looks great

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14906 posts in 2085 days


#5 posted 03-27-2016 01:57 PM



Yes, it is hard indeed! I was so surprised to see that it is harder than both red and white oak according to The Wood Database. I think I ll be using it again before too long.

- Spacehog

Google some pics of the tree and the THORNS. It is really fun to cut the tree and mill the lumber. But well worth the effort.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View gsimon's profile

gsimon

1139 posts in 1509 days


#6 posted 03-27-2016 02:56 PM

nice work!

-- Greg Simon

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

22562 posts in 2262 days


#7 posted 03-27-2016 05:06 PM

This turned out nicely.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115082 posts in 2972 days


#8 posted 03-27-2016 07:10 PM

Most unique design,very well done.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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