Wednesday 4 November 2015

Dangerous Curves - Mid Century Table (Pt. 11)

The fun part of the table build project came up.
Shaping the table top.

Coming from a rectangle board and going to, but find out for yourself....

The table top was prepared a while ago. I have tried out a few different designs. Most of them I have discarded after a while. The last layout I have done felt good to me, even after a while.

Final layout

All layouts I have done stayed for a few days. The board was placed somewhere beneath my working desk so that I could have a look at it pretty often. The one shown above was the first one, which felt right every time I was looking at.
After I was convinced that this is the right layout it was fine to go ahead.

So, what has to be done first? Cutting of the bulk of the waste.

The first cut

I started a bit hesitant. Maybe because I had in mind that, if I'm doing it wrong the goose is cooked. There is no additional material to correct anything.
A bigger carcass saw was the best choice to do these first smaller cuts.

The second one

From the second cut it was much easier. Not from a mechanical point of view, but from the mental one.

Cutting bigger portions at the tip

Where the table top will have its tip, bigger portions had to be cut of. I have used a panel saw for this task.
This was necessary because of the advanced depth.

Most cuts done

All the cuts done I knew that I was right. Although the table top wasn't really shaped it looked pretty okay to me.

How it came out after sawing

Now the next step was to define the shape.
Shaping is one of the strength of a spoke shave. So it's pretty clear which is the right tool for the job.
But wait - not that it wasn't clear to me, but now it was real. 90 percent of this edge is end grain now.
Maybe a tool with a lower bedded blade would be helpful. The only one which was handy is my block plane.
Alright, I screwed up all my courage and started shaving. It went better than expected. Only some tips from the sawing have interfered. I have removed them with a wide sharp chisel.

Making end grain shavings

In the first portion I haven't worked completely down to my line so I have some room for final definitions.

Established the first edge

Here you can see the result of the first edge. Not too bad!

First result

After one edge was done I have touched the blade with my sharpening stones. With carefulness I have established a nice and sharp cutting edge.

Nice shavings

With the freshly sharpened blade the other two edges were done. Boy, I'm surprised how good this works.
A bit of skewing from time to time and the shavings have been really nice. As I reached the point of having full shavings along one edge I called it done.

The next task was to establish a wide bevel at the underside of the table top. Therefore I made a line, coming in 10mm from the top. I drove all along the edge with a square and a pencil.

Layout line on the edge

Then I came in 40 mm from the edge on the underside of the board. Same procedure. Driving all along the edge.

Layout line on the underside

Now I knew what I was shooting for and started to make some shavings. The best tool in my herd was again the block plane. I have started right on the outside edge and came in a bit more with every stroke.

Planing the bevel

Again, I'm just close to my line and not completely down. Just to give me some room for improvement.

First bevel done

After the first side was done I had a somehow awkward tip. I have planed down the two other sides and at least I have removed the remaining material at the tips.

The tip

And here is the result after two planing sessions. The table top looks much lighter now.

Table with shaped components

That's pretty much it. That's the table. Yes, of course I have to do some detail work. But for the time being I'm pretty glad with the overall look.

Table top from above

And the best thing. My wife is impressed and likes it already. 

What's Next

Still an open issue is how to clamp this little friend during the glue up. I've done different clamping cauls during the last days. None of them are really working. The good thing is that I have decreased the content of my scrap box.
Yesterday I've ordered a band clamp. We will see how this will work.

Within the next days I will do the finishing preparation. Smoothing the table top, scraping the legs, removing all pencil marks, try to remove one or two dents. Stuff like that.

And then it's time for glue up and the final finishing. Oh, that's another open point. Which finish should I use? Usually I'm using a wax varnish with a coat of paste wax. I'm pretty familiar with this procedure so I tend to do it again.

Alright folks, that's all!

Stay tuned!


  1. Nice looking table and I especially like how that bevel lightened up the top. Spokeshaves are my next tool to master. They are hit or miss and I don't get consistent results with them.

    1. Hi Ralph,
      thanks. Yeah the bevel is a step beyond.
      I've struggled a lot with my spoke shaves at the beginning of using them. Honestly I thought they are lousy and useless. But it bothered me to see that Mr. Sellers is using them all the time with pretty nice results. So I spent some time in sharpening my blade. And after all tests and tries the best way for me is to sharpen them free hand. Since I'm doing so the blade is damn sharp. My guess is that I'm inadvertently establishing a micro bevel by moving the blade free hand on the stones. I'm doing pull strokes on 400 and 600 grid. Only on the polishing stone (1200) I'm changing to push and pull.
      I'm not a master but I'm getting better (and sometimes I have to sharpen it twice).

  2. The top turned out great. The bevel on the the lower edge of the top made a big difference in the visual weight.
    The entire table has turned out very nice. I'm looking forward to seeing it with a finish on it.

    1. Hi Gregory,
      thanks for your words. I like the look of the bevel pretty much too.


  3. The top turned out great. The bevel on the the lower edge of the top made a big difference in the visual weight.
    The entire table has turned out very nice. I'm looking forward to seeing it with a finish on it.

  4. Stefan,

    I'm assuming you are talking about glueing up the base, if correct something to think about is 251 gram Hot Hide glue and just do rub joins. With a rub join there is no need to clamp, just rub together until the glue starts to set and then hold in place for a moment or so.

    BTW, the table looks great.


    1. Hi Ken,
      yes of course I'm talking about gluing up the base.
      But a good hint. I will think about it although my first experiences with hide glue weren't so good (last time I've used it the parts went apart after a few days).

    2. Stefan;

      Were you using hot hide glue or one of the liquid hide glues? You can't get a good rub joint with the liquid glue, it cures too slowly. The other thing is the glue could have been old. Once the hot version made from fresh granules sets it is as strong as any of the modern glues.


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  6. Nicely sharp tools! Oh, and the table really does look great...! :-)

    Bob and Rudy

    1. Hi Bob,
      thanks. I'm often surprised by myself how sharp my tools are. From time to time I'm in doubt if my tools are sharp. And honestly sometime it happens that they come fresh from the stones, I'm doing the first cut and think 'no' - back to the stones again. But I think that is a way of development you have to go.

      Seems that you and Rudy are friends already.

  7. Very true Stefan, and you have to first experience what a sharp edge does to know when it need touch up.You are well on your way to master that, keep up the good work.

    Indeed Rudy and I are bonding easily, once I finish puppy proofing my workshop I will introduce him to it. He already mastered the art of chewing wood, :-)