Arts & Crafts Coffee Table (aka Fixing a Screw-Up)

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Project by groovy_man_6 posted 03-28-2012 06:34 PM 3918 views 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

SCREWED UP!—OK so I made this previous coffee table top from an old table top I saw lying on the side of the road—cleaned it up, inlaid an Ipe band into it to gussy it up, AWESOME, right?? NO. Ipe is so hard it is like steel straps across the table and doesn’t allow for expansion/contraction of the table top. Big cracks were forming and the entire table top was bowing – Time for a new properly constructed table top.

Amateur Hour for sure. (See Picture #2 to see the first table top)

In unrelated news, my neighbors had a huge Red Oak tree that got struck by lightning about 2 years ago. After it came down, I took my large chainsaw mill to it, and then put it through the bandsaw. I LOVE the look of quartersawn oak with its amazing tiger figuring, but is more difficult to mill and creates more waste… but who gives a crap about time and effort, right? I quartersawed that bitch, sealed the ends with wax, and let it sit in my shop for 1.5 years!

Well now is the time for a new table top! I decided to do breadboard ends with through tenons, which properly done, allow for expansion contraction (not going to make that mistake again).

I think I might have tennis elbow from all the mortising runs to route out the breadboard ends using a 1/4” thick bit

Finishing went like this:
1. Aniline Dye (Transtint: Red Mahogany)
2. English Chestnut Stain (Minwax)
3. Danish Oil (A complete varnish by Watco)
4. Tung Oil Finish (Minwax—because it needed another coat of oil, and the danish oil I bought had a dark color to it and I didn’t want it to get any darker)
5. Polyurethane (because who the hell wants to use coasters anyways…)

Overall, I like the rich brown color of the table and the oil-based finished made the figuring pop! I was happy and a little surprised to see the Red Oak tiger figuring was still significant, as I usually only see White Oak. Considering this is the first time I went all the way from Tree—> Table, it’s pretty satisfying too—even if it did have to start with a monumental screw up. :-)


12 comments so far

View KMT's profile


603 posts in 2806 days

#1 posted 03-28-2012 07:09 PM

Looks Fantastic, and a good project description.

-- - Martin

View lizardhead's profile


652 posts in 2985 days

#2 posted 03-28-2012 08:21 PM

Nice finish

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3700 days

#3 posted 03-28-2012 09:53 PM

That is some good looking wood, the overall project is gorgeous, nice joinery and finish

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3095 days

#4 posted 03-28-2012 09:55 PM

Excellent work! I really like the design and it seems that your finish worked beautifully. I love those ray flecks!

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2834 days

#5 posted 03-29-2012 12:55 AM

A beautiful table and I love the finish on it. Quarter sawn red oak can be even more spectacular than white oak and the rays seem to naturally have more contrasting color. I wouldn’t have thought the Ipe inlay would have caused those problems either.

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

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3497 days

#6 posted 03-29-2012 01:01 AM

Very nice. Very nice finish on it.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View Woodbridge's profile


3573 posts in 2562 days

#7 posted 03-29-2012 01:09 AM

The top is fantastic looking. Much better than the first top. The wood is stunning and you did a great job finishing it to make it stand out even more.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 3222 days

#8 posted 03-29-2012 01:30 AM

Looks like you did an exceptional work on it!

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View DocSavage45's profile


8699 posts in 2986 days

#9 posted 03-29-2012 02:15 PM

Thanks for the journey! :) You did float the table top anchors to also allow for that live wood movement?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View groovy_man_6's profile


148 posts in 3144 days

#10 posted 03-29-2012 02:59 PM

Hey Tom,

I didn’t quite float it, but I attached it only in the middle, and the breadboard ends are also glued in the middle so the middle is my anchor point and everything expands contracts from there…

Man, I never really appreciated what a big deal wood movement is, but with each project, I learn more and more.

View DocSavage45's profile


8699 posts in 2986 days

#11 posted 03-29-2012 03:23 PM

Was looking at a table, commercially built after taking it apart (camlocks). Thinking the same thing I suggested here. it is directly attatched! Nice looking material, interesting engineering but maybe they want it to fall apart? so we buy some more next year? :)

Good luck with learning, I have so much hindsight about my mistakes I can walk backwardws! LOL

gotta go to work

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Rick S.'s profile

Rick S.

10543 posts in 3176 days

#12 posted 03-31-2012 09:03 AM

Very Nice Project! Thanks For posting!

-- Don't Worry About What People Think! They Don't Do It Very Often Anyway!

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