Replacement body for end table

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Project by ChuckH posted 12-20-2013 10:09 PM 1426 views 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

My wife had a mosaic end table that was a great liability as far as setting things down. Not only was the surface uneven due the mosaic texture, the mosaic top was bowed and wasn’t even set on it’s pedestal. Also the pedestal had three feet and was pretty unstable. Like a good husband, I whisked the thing away to my shop saying “This is all messed up but I can fix it.”

Like a bad husband, it took me about a year to get around to doing it. Taking it apart was interesting – the pedestal was fastened directly to the mosaic backing board with a hodge podge of thick, long, thin and short phillips and flat head screws. I suppose that was part of its artistic charm…

The material used was 1x project pine from Lowes, some of it recycled, to save money. Unfortunately I ran out, and on one side of the top frame you can see screw holes from some previous use. I chose not to fill these to give the face some character (i-m-p-a-t-i-e-n-t). I jointed and planed the material on a jointer, but did not use a thickness planer, again due to get-it-done-itis.

First the legs parts were cut to 3” width, and the taper placed on all 8 boards (2 boards per leg). Then I flipped the board around in the taper jig, so I could cut four of the boards to 2 1/4” on the edge opposite the taper. These were butt- jointed to make each leg symmetrical. I thought this was clever of me, but allowed my head to deflate later, when I was trying to cut mortises into these pieces using the router. It was unwieldy to run the L-shaped parts on the router table.

I initially planned to make the legs out of square material and taper them on all four sides – however the material I had led me to taper the insides only. I would have preferred slightly the look of the table with the taper on the outside, but am still very impressed at the improvement the inner taper is over plain square legs.

Regarding the mortises, I started to make them 1/4” thick (1/3 the thickness of the material) and intended to make them 1 1/2” long, but worried that they were too narrow for that length. I instead made them 1/2” wide, which was my second major mistake. Because I only have a 1/4” spiral bit, I had to run each mortise twice at two fence positions. The second time through, because one side of the cut was already empty, I found it impossible at times to prevent the router from grabbing the piece, regardless of which direction I fed it through. I reduced the length to only 1/2” (maybe 1”, now I forget) because this step was so problematic.

The tenon boundaries were cut on the table saw, then the excess material cleared away with several passes on the router table using a miter gauge. This worked, but was a little rough – due to sawdust on the table and perhaps some other factors such as the router plate inset not being perfectly level, the mortises were hard to get perfect. In the future I’d prefer to do these on a table saw with a tenon jig.

After assembly I placed the mosaic top face down on my work table and placed the table frame on top of it. The rails that support it around the edge are just screwed into place, in case they need adjustment. The mosaic is not supported in the middle, which I do not think is necessary but I may add later for peace of mind.

The top was mitered, then rabbeted, then glued together. It’s attached to the frame with only pocket holes from beneath, again for adjustment or disassembly. One of the rabbets was too deep – so I had to smooth the transition to it from the adjoining pieces – after putting the glass in one side is slightly high – it will need to be brought down a little when the chisels come back from the sharpener. Third mistake, although a smaller one, is that I stained it before checking the fit of the glass. I doubt I will re-stain and poly it after making that adjustment, due to a bad case of it-works-good-enough-and-nobody-is-going-to-notice.

I tend to point out the mistakes I make in my pieces to people when I show them, because I want to be honest with myself about where I messed up and need to improve. However, I’ve tried recently to stop doing this, as people tend to wave it off and sometimes can be irritated by it. I’ve also found it to be good for the esteem, and besides I have a full record here of all my mistakes.

The finish was a minwax “maple” stain (two coats, first soaked for 5 minutes second for 15) followed by a clear polyurethane. The finish I was looking for was more golden, however I seem to have gotten something more reddish out of this stain, although I’m still pleased with the final product. I also intended to use a stain and seal all in one, but apparently I purchased the wrong stuff, so I had to stain and then poly.

1 comment so far

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179 posts in 1872 days

#1 posted 12-20-2013 10:14 PM

Nice piece. I like the maple finish & the tapered legs.

-- -- "Never underestimate the power of a kind word, a good deed, or a table saw."

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