Telephone table

  • Advertise with us
Project by rilanda posted 07-31-2012 09:43 AM 1550 views 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Made about 7years ago for a family member, before this I had made him a number of furniture items using Brazilian Mahogany but when he asked me to make this Brazilian Mahogany was becoming hard to source and what were available was very expensive, so I decided to use American Cherry and dye it to match the existing furniture. I like American Cherry as it has a pleasant grain and character although some of this material was difficult to work because it contained a lot of wavy grain. He lived in a small flat so space was limited and this of course had an effect on the design of the table, well here is the end result you be the judge.
The photos 1, 2 & 5 are various views of the finished table; photo 3 is the table in a finished condition before dye and polish have been applied; photo 4 is a jpeg reproduction of one of my rendered drawings one again apologies for the lack of definition.

This small table was designed for a telephone with directories on a lower shelf. The table needed to be kept small, as space was tight; therefore, the use of a drawer to contain the directories was eliminated, as this would have increased the table size. However, with the growing size of directories a lower shelf is perhaps the better option. The table design is kept as light as possible without compromising its strength; it is made in American Cherry and dyed to a dark red mahogany to match existing furniture.
Cut and prepare all of the items to the cutting list and mark face side and edge on each piece. Mark-out the legs to the drawing, keeping the face sides and edges on the external faces of the legs. The mortises for the top rails are central in the legs thickness, the mortises for the bottom rails are slightly off-centre by 1 mm (closer to the outside face) this allows for a slightly longer tenon in this region to increase the strength. The mortise for the top rails is haunched using the 1/3 haunch, 2/3-tenon rule; the haunch is a tapered haunch tapering from zero at the top to 5 mm deep at the bottom, this is to maintain as much strength as possible at the top of the legs. Mortises are also reduced in length by 2 mm from each remaining edge to eliminate the possibility of gaps appearing at the rail/leg junction. Do not use a marking knife for marking out the mortises because the rails are set back from the face of the legs and the knife marks will be observed at this point. Mark-out the rails for tenons; these are square shoulders with the tenons central in all of the rails, these can be marked out using a marking knife. Two of the bottom rails require marking out for mortising for the shelf slats, these must be marked out as a pair for the mortises are not central in the rails depth; these mortises should be marked out on the opposite face to the face side. The position of these mortises was determined using dividers to ensure uniformity of the rail spacing then each of the mortises is reduced in length by 3 mm from either side to allow for the small radius that will be applied to the top edges of the slatted shelf items; mark-out these mortises using pencil, knife marks could be seen. It is possible to mark-out the slatted shelf rails for tenons, these are a bare faced tenon that are shouldered only from the top face (face side), the shoulder length of the rails are critical to the shoulder length of the two remaining bottom rails (no mortises). The shoulder length of the slatted shelf rails should be the shoulder length of the bottom rails plus 18 mm, however it is so important it would be better left until the table can be dry assembled and the shoulder size determined absolutely. Mark-out the legs for tapering this can be done simply using a rule and straight edge or to maintain uniformity a simple template can be made [See photograph].
Start the manufacture by tapering the legs, these were marked out as described earlier using a template, then cut back on the bandsaw and finally planed by hand using a No. 4 smoothing plane. Make sure the taper starts at the underside of the bottom rail, making no violation of the rail position, make regular checks for square at the leg base and produce all four tapered sides to each leg until all four legs are complete. Now mortise the legs down to a depth where the mortise meets in the centre of the leg, this should be done for both top & bottom rails but remember there is a difference in setting from the fence. Produce the tapered haunch by sawing down the sides using a fine saw (gents saw or similar) then carefully take out the waste with a sharp chisel removing a little at a time until the maximum depth of 5 mm is reached. Now mortise the two bottom rails to receive the slatted shelf rails these mortises are 9 mm deep to accommodate a tenon that will be 8 mm long. Now tenon the top and bottom rails; these tenons are 6 mm thick set central in the rails thickness; the shoulders are square shoulders both across the width and across thickness of the rails. Reduce the width of the tenons to fit the mortises and produce the tapered haunch on the top rails to fit the haunch in the legs. Cut the mitres to the ends of the tenons so they will meet together in the legs centre but ensure the mitres are cut to put the face sides on the exterior of the rails (long point of the mitres). Dry assemble the table making any adjustments to tenons etcetera that may be required; identify each tenon to each mortise then once assembled check the shoulder length of the slatted rails; mark-out then tenon these rails. Break down the assembly and apply the 6 mm bead to the bottom edge of the top rails and the groove to the inside face of the top rails, this groove is to provide a location for the buttons that hold the top in position. A 6 mm round over is applied to all four edges of the bottom rails and the two top edges of the shelf slats.
Clean up the faces of all components using a cabinet scraper and working down through the grades of abrasive paper, finishing with 240-grit paper. The table is to be dyed so any cross sanding must be avoided at all costs; I personally would avoid the use of mechanical sanders of any description preferring to work with hand sanding blocks only working with the grain at all times. Using the above preparation methods, clean up the slatted shelf components and the inside face of the mortised bottom rails, these can then be assembled using P.V.A. adhesive. Be careful when applying the adhesive not to overload the application to avoid any squeeze out from the joint. Any squeeze out must be removed with a damp cloth immediately; this will show as a white patch through the dye should it be allowed to dry without being removed. Cramp the assembly together checking for square and set aside for the adhesive to cure, and then clean up all the remaining components. Now apply adhesive to the parts required to make up the two end frames each frame will consist of two legs, one top rail, & one bottom rail. Make sure that each set comprises of the correctly identified component parts before assembly. Assemble with sash cramps checking for square before leaving for the adhesive to cure.
Final assembly of the table under frame is made 24 hours after the previous assemblies this is completed using sash cramps and checking the assembly for square in both vertical and horizontal planes, this is then left to cure for another 24 hrs before any further work is attempted. However, these periods of curing time can be used to make and prepare the top.
The top is made from solid cherry, jointed from pieces 40 mm wide; each piece was sliced from a tangentially sawn board to produce a quarter-sawn piece for jointing. The board was wide enough to provide all the pieces required to make the top; with each piece as it was sliced off identified to the preceding piece to keep an order for matching. The parts were planed to thickness plus approximately one mm allowance for cleaning up; the joints were then prepared on the jointer with final preparation left to a No. 6 jointing plane. The top is jointed using 6 mm thick cross tongues made of Oak (this can be plywood) stopped 50 mm from each end of the piece. The grooves for the tongues were made with a router working in a router table, using a 6 mm grooving cutter and the cross tongue pieces were prepared to fit the grooves. The top is assembled using P.V.A. adhesive and three sash cramps (2 below and 1 above the top) to avoid any cupping that may occur, and then place aside for the adhesive to cure. When cured remove the cramps and cut the top to length and width. Clean up the top provisionally to remove any adhesive, using a smoothing plane working at 45 to the grain direction from either side [See drawing]. The edge of the top is moulded using an Ogee cutter in a router mounted in a router table; apply the moulding to leave a 1.5 mm quirk on the top face. To avoid the creation of burn marks left by this cutter; ensure the cutter is sharp, reduce the rotational speed of the router and keep a constant feed without any momentary delays, each of which could produce a slight burn mark to the edge. Now clean up the top to a finish starting with cabinet scraper, then starting with 120-grit paper, followed by 180-grit paper, and finally finishing with 240-grit paper. Cut and prepare the eight buttons [See drawing] required to hold the top in position to the under frame of the table. Buttons are used where a top is made from solid timber; they will allow the timber to move without leading to splitting of the top or opening one of the joints in the top.
Now remove the cramps from the table frame assembly and then carefully mark-out, cut & remove the horns from each of the leg tops, ensuring they are square and level with the top edge of the rails. Place the top upside down on a protected surface and position the table frame upside down over the top. Set the frame central and square to the top, now position the eight buttons into the grooves within the back of the top rails, set them equally spaced around the perimeter of the table and leave a clearance of approximately 0.5 to 1 mm for movement. Pilot drill for the screws and screw the buttons into position.
The table is to be dyed to a dark red mahogany colour; my own preference of wood dye is LIBERON palette wood dye. This is a water-based dye and it will raise the grain of the timber, for this reason I remove the top (identifying it into position so it returns to the same position later) and deal with it as a separate item. Then using a clean damp cloth, I dampen all the surfaces of both the top and table frame, and then leave them to dry thoroughly. Then the whole table is then re-sanded with a 240 grit paper ensuring there is no cross grain sanding. Then I repeat the whole process once again lightly sanding with 240-grit paper; this final damping and sanding should ensure the wood dye would not raise the grain. Apply the wood dye with a brush, cloth, or sponge and allow the dye to penetrate for a short time before wiping back with a dry cloth (do not allow the dye to dry before wiping back). When the entire table has been treated in this manner place aside and leave to dry thoroughly before any further work is attempted. For this project a deeper stronger colour was required so a second application was required, this cannot be applied for at least two hours after the first application. I prefer the first application to be dry before I lightly cut it back with a 320-grit silicone carbide paper; then I apply the second application in the same manner as the first and then leave for a full 24 hours to dry. This is then sanded with a 320 grit silicone carbide paper to remove any nibs and then coated with a cellulose sander sealer (CHESTNUT cellulose sanding sealer). Allow this coat to dry thoroughly before de-nibbing it with a 320-grit paper. Two finishing coats of melamine lacquer (CHESTNUT melamine lacquer) are applied with de-nibbing taking place between the coats. Finally, the table is finished using 0000 wire wool with wax polish (LIBERON Black bison fine paste wax; Victorian Mahogany) that is buffed to a finish with a brush and finally a clean soft cloth. The top can now be reaffixed back into its original position taking special care to place it down onto a well-protected surface. The table is now finished and ready for use.

-- Bill, Nottingham. Remember its not waiting for the storm to end, but learning to dance in the rain that counts. If you dont make mistakes, you make nothing at all.

3 comments so far

View Tom Godfrey's profile

Tom Godfrey

488 posts in 2374 days

#1 posted 07-31-2012 02:51 PM

Nice simple design. Really like the wood grain pattern on the top. Great job as always.

-- Tom Godfrey Landrum South Carolina (

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3775 days

#2 posted 07-31-2012 03:04 PM

Cool table with some very nice wood.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3886 days

#3 posted 08-01-2012 02:09 AM

Very nice project !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics