Table help PLEASE!!

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Forum topic by jaysonic posted 04-26-2013 03:23 AM 1150 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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219 posts in 2344 days

04-26-2013 03:23 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

So, first picture: These two pieces are going to be my legs. They are, at present, 35” tall and 2’ round. First question: How do I get the bark off, and only the bark off, without damaging the rest? What you see is how I got them, from my sisters husband who works for a telephone pole company.

Third, fourth, fifth and sixth pictures are the pieces I will be using for the tabletop. They are old growth fir (I believe) from a demolition job where I live. They are old growth from 1903 – they were part of the only building that withstood the great fire from the 1930’s on the island where I live (it burned down the whole of china town, the largest china town at the time, I believe – so I will most definitely have a piece of history in my house). I think I’ll get a burning pen and inscribe something on the underside of the table about the wood – I’m also going to put a picture of the original building on the wall where the table will sit.

NOW: to my next question. I will be joining 8 pieces together, to get a total of 48” wide. I think I’m going to make the top 10’ long. I want the legs to be easily removable, since each of them must weigh a few hundred pounds, at LEAST!, not to mention how heavy the top is going to be. Here is a photo from Nick Offerman in fine woodworking issue #222:

Would you say this is the best way to secure my legs? I will obviously have to move my table in 3 pieces anytime I move. If you don’t think this is the best way, or you have any other ideas, please…I’m all ears! My goal is also to try and keep the top as thick as possible. I plan on making a bench along one side as well. Whoop whoop!

Well, thank you for looking, hope to hear any and all suggestions…assume I know nothing (I probably know nothing anyways), and fire away! Thanks guys!

6 replies so far

View neverstoplearnin's profile


44 posts in 2176 days

#1 posted 04-26-2013 03:40 AM

For the bark you can use the same sander/drill attachment that nick used in that same article. I just finished a Nakashima inspired live edge coffee table and used it to remove the bark. I also used the same leg attachment for my coffee table however my coffee table is not near the size that you are building so it might be best to consider another option.

-- *God is Good*

View jdmaher's profile


439 posts in 2781 days

#2 posted 04-26-2013 01:08 PM

I’m not sure I have answers, but it is a fascinating project. I love the idea of enormous “farmhouse” tables – especially with a matching bench – but I’ve never had a room big enough.

Getting the bark off is probably a slow and careful process, but you’ve got more than enough material to work with. In essence, you’re “rounding” big columns. I don’t do turning, but normal equipment would probably be inadequate. I’m thinking “flattening” (just like Nick’s article), in some sort of frame to hold the log, with a registration mark to line up with radii drawn on the ends. That should (eventually) result in a multi-faceted column that you could the round with some 60 grit and a lot of sanding?

Fastening the top? In essence, you’re building a big pedestal table. So, maybe a variation of Nick’s approach, but with four “arms” on the top of the table fitting in to cross-mortices in the under-side of the top. I’d go for a loose fit and use the buttons and screws. The top will weigh (more than) enough to hold it down, so the screws will just prevent the top from shifting on the pedestal arms.

Do you have (or can you borrow) a great jointer and planer to mill the top boards? If so, I don’t believe you’ll need Nick’s jig to flatten the top.

But you might need a jig like that to flatten the top and bottom of the columns.

BTW, what treatment are you planning for the base of those columns? I’ve been told that a base with four feet is more stable than letting the entire column just sit on the floor.

And you’ve got a room at least 12’ by 18’ (better would be 16’ x 20’) to put this beautiful beast in?

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View jaysonic's profile


219 posts in 2344 days

#3 posted 04-27-2013 05:25 AM

Thanks, both of you! I’m definitely going to be looking into that drill attachment, but I’ve been thinking about leaving the bark on as well, still not sure! What do you think about this idea for attaching the top?

So the top would just sit on those columns, and I’d flatten it with the columns inserted, do you know what I mean?

Jim, I’ve definitely thought about the four feet on the base, but I’ve looked at a few pictures on the web and I just don’t like the look. I might build it without the feet, and if I find it’s not stable enough, I can always add them later.

View Shan's profile


32 posts in 3406 days

#4 posted 04-27-2013 06:16 AM

If the top is as heavy as you say, and you want it secure, but movable, or removable, I think steel pins would work. Take and drill 3 holes in each base in a triangle pattern about 2” in from the edge Drill 4-1/8” deep. Place dowel centering pins in the holes on each side. Place the legs in position, and set the top in place. Once you have it exactly where you want it, take a heavy rubber mallet and hit down over each centering pin. lift the top off and drill 2” deep holes where the pin left marks. Make 6 pins, each 6” long. (I think 3/8 to 1/2 steel rod would work). Sand the pins to rough them up. Epoxy the pins into the legs making sure that only 2” protrudes. Let the epoxy cure. Set the top in the holes. The pins will eliminate any side to side movement, and should prevent any tipping of the top, even if someone sits on it. If need be, you could always epoxy the top to the pins, then it would never tip. But I would try without gluing the top first, this way you can move it if you ever need to.

-- SeeWhatISaw

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2199 days

#5 posted 04-27-2013 12:37 PM

Looks to me like it will be a little on the rustic side and so is my idea. Get a couple of 1/4” steel plates cut that are a little smaller square than the width of your top. Drill them and fasten them to the tops of your legs perhaps with counter sunk flat head screws. Drill the four corners of the plates and drill matching holes in the top. Bolt down through the top with some black carriage bolts. Should be all hell for strong and simple and the black carriage bolt heads will add a nice accent to the top.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 2094 days

#6 posted 04-27-2013 03:11 PM

Not sure about the bark removal – my first instinct would be to grab my widest chisel and go to town, along with a beer.

Now, with a table that heavy I immediately think of big dowels or big mortise/tenons for dry fitting the top on the legs, and then lag bolting together via 1/4” thick angle iron brackets. Clearly this is not a ‘fine woodworking’ route, but my priorities would be keeping a massive table like that totally rigid AND able to take apart easily for moving.

The second picture you posted, IMO, does not illustrate a very strong and rigid leg attachment design for a massive table. It may look nice and satisfy your desire to use a router more, and yes the trestle/stretcher helps a lot, but those ‘buttons’ will just snap off if some drunken fool falls toward one of your tabletop ends with enough lateral force. I’m more inclined to beef up the hidden support structure on a massive table than not.

Otherwise, congrats on that wood and awesome table project.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

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