|Project by cdarney||posted 515 days ago||2071 views||8 times favorited||17 comments|
Cocobolo and Maple Coffee Table
35.5” wide x 18.5” deep x 18” high
I stopped at Hearne Hardwoods one day and found a piece of Big Leaf Maple that was a piece of wood, albeit a bit expensive, just looking for a project. It was only about 24” long, 8”wide and a little over an inch thick. My wife was with me and I asked for her suggestions for what to use it for. I didn’t expect her to suggest a coffee table. She also wanted the primary wood to be Cocobolo. Beautiful wood but a REAL challenge to work with.
(Note to self – Don’t mix Cocobolo and Maple. Unless you’re VERY careful all of the maple will be contaminated and turn a very unattractive yellow.)
I ended up resawing the BL Maple into four slices and tried thickness planing them to an equal size.
(Note to self – Don’t try to thickness Big Leaf Maple. The planer LOVES to chew it up.)
The pieces were very close to the same thickness so I veneered them on to some 1/2” hard maple to make four panels, flipped it over and thicknessed them all, just planing off the hard maple. I used clear Watco Danish oil to finish the BL Maple. I kept putting it on until it stopped taking it. It can take a LOT! I cut all of the panels to size.
I made a large 1/2” hard maple panel and glued the BL Maple panels on to it with Cocobolo, half-lapped cross pieces to make the top then framed it with Cocobolo. I sanded the entire top and put a couple of coats of sanding sealer on it.
(Note to self – Don’t mix Cocobolo and Maple. Unless you’re VERY careful all of the maple will be contaminated and turn a very unattractive yellow….Or did I already say that?)
I sanded off the shellac from the maple and re-applied it – this time being VERY careful not to touch the Cocobolo.
The base of the table was pretty simple but I wanted a single board apron around, I ripped and cross-cut the front and back boards to make the drawers. The drawers go all of the way through and can be opened from either side. I was hoping to have the drawers fit with a look like a single board. When I made the drawers I used a dovetail jig and they weren’t quite as square as I thought. Next time I’ll hand cut them. After making flat on the top and bottom I had a gap in the board so I added some maple trim around the drawer openings to fit it. Can you say “Design Feature”? I assembled the base and finished it with shellac, wiping all of the wood down very well with mineral spirits just prior to the shellac.
The maple trim in the drawer openings really changed the look of the table and the top, in comparison, looked too “thick ” and “heavy” so I routed out around the BL Maple panels and some of the Cocobolo then added some 3/8” or so Tasmanian Blackwood frames and, not liking the transition to the BL Maple, some 1/8” Cocobolo strips to make each look like its own “picture in a frame”. Another “Design Feature”. I sanded the top (yet again) well and added some shellac.
(Note to self – Don’t mix Cocobolo and Maple. Unless you’re VERY careful all of the maple will be contaminated and turn a very unattractive yellow….You would think I’d learn!)
After re-sanding the top I applied – very carefully – more sanding sealer shellac. I was really getting concerned that I would sand through the veneered BL Maple. I sanded it all down lightly and, because I expect some abuse to the top, used Arm-R-Seal – being careful not to contaminate the maple! Arm-R-Seal is great stuff – except that it never seems to harden on the Cocobolo. I took it off, wiped all of the Cocobolo with mineral spirits then acetone and quickly re-applied the Arm-R-Seal. Still wouldn’t harden on the Cocobolo. I cleaned off the Arm-R-Seal, re-sanded the top – being VERY careful not to contaminate the maple (even this old dog can learn a new trick or two!) then applied a few coats of sanding sealer. Now I was REALLY getting concerned that I would sand through the veneered BL Maple. The shellac was going to have to be the final finish. The coats were put on thick to allow for light finish sanding. I should have done this in the first place.
My wife wanted a “shiny” top so a wet-sanded the entire top to 2000 grit and added a couple of coats of paste wax until it looked the way both of us liked. I wish the pictures could do the figured in the maple justice. The depth and chatoyance of the wood is spectacular. The “ridges” change from convex to concave as you look at it. It’s beautiful maple and the Cocobolo contrast is stunning.
This one was a challenge. I was very glad to be able to call it done.