Wednesday 21 October 2015

Mid-Century Table (Pt. 10)

Some news from the table project.
The project is changing now. 
From rough dimensioning and construction to shaping.

The table took more time than expected and my wife is asking me often enough when it will be ready.
My interest is back now. So time to make some progress.

Table Top

I've laminated the table top in portions. First I have glued up board 1 & 2.
After the glue was set and dried board 3 was added.
The process was pretty straight forward. 
Establishing a straight edge on both boards. Spreading glue in a zig zag on both edges and clamping the board together.

Zig zag glue line

I've used clamping cauls to a) protect the edges and b) to have uniform pressure.

Laminating portion 1

Additionally I've used some cauls and F-clamps at the end of the boards so that I will have a nice glue line and the boards will not shift.

Laminating portion 2

This build has got surprises for me in every stage. After the glue was set and I've removed the clamps I've found some defects. The glue lines were somehow black. Most of it I could remove with a scraper but in two spots I've got an issue.

Defect and black glue line

I leave it for the time being and will care about when I will finish the table top. Luckily it is the underside so I won't sweat it pretty much. But I still can't explain what happened. Is that a chemical reaction of Oak and glue? Or were some pencil marks left? I don't know.

Planing the end grain

The table top out of the clamps I started to straighten one end. With a fresh sharpened blade my low angle jack did a nice job.

End grain shaving

Guys, that is an end grain shaving. I'm pretty satisfied with my results. It looks like I have improved my sharpening skills.

Edge after planing

Just a short impression if the table top will fit and how a board will look on the table frame :-)

Just to see how it looks

Fixing The Top

Another open to do was to make same turn buttons and some holes into the aprons to fix the top.
Running out of Oak I found a piece of Beech in my scrap box which was ideal for making some turn buttons.
Man, it is so nice to work with beech. I totally forgot this.

Turn buttons

Next steps was to make some holes into the aprons for the turn buttons.

Mark the center

My turn buttons are 3 cm wide. So I found the middle of the apron and then came in 1,5 cm from every side.
I made some pencil lines for visual orientation. Now I set my marking gauge 6 mm wide to mark the "mortise" hole.

Scribe the mortise hole

I scribed the lines parallel to the top edge of the apron.
And then I've transferred the wideness marks with a square and made some knife marks.

Transfer the lines

It was Sunday and I wanted to protect my neighbors from too much noise. So I've pre-drilled the mortises.

Drilling the mortise

Starting at the outer ends and then coming to the middle.

Drilling done

All drilling done.

All aprons with pre-drilled mortices

I've just cleaned the pre-drilled holes with a fitting chisel. Just a few light hammer taps and the rest was paring.

Mortise holes done

A quick test if the turn buttons will fit. And they are doing. I've only to shorten them slightly but I will do that during the final assembly.

With turn buttons


Two major task have to be done. The table top has to be brought to his final shape and the legs have to be rounded over. Let me start with the table top.
I think I have done 5 or 6 drafts and layout tests for the table top. But nothing looked "right".
But on Sunday afternoon I have found a construction and layout method which leads into a fitting result.
The draft was made on paper and transferred on thin poplar plywood.

Shaping the template

This poplar plywood is about 4 mm thick and it is easily workable.
I've rough cut it with a panel saw and then shaped it with a sharp chisel and a spoke shave.
The template was just done as a half one. 

The template

So I could trace around on one side, flipped over the template and traced around it on the other side.

In action

And finally I have got this.

And the layout

The camera perspective is not the best, but it is pretty much what I had got in my mind.

Check if the dimensions are ok

Just to see if the resulting top is large enough and I have got enough overhang.

The Legs

I think I have already written about it. My idea was to give the legs an oval design.
The legs of the mock up I have made at the very beginning of the project had already this shape.
I hesitated a while to shape the "real" legs. I can't tell you why. It didn't felt right.
Finally I've started to shape the legs outsides. Nothing fancy, just grabbing my spoke shave and starting make shavings. Down to the lines I've marked with a little template.

Leg profile at the bottom end

That's the leg's bottom. Left side is where I'm coming from, the rights side is where I'm going to.

Leg profile at the top end

The top of the leg after the first rough shavings.

After scraping

And the final profile after spoke shave and scraper. I'm not down to my line yet. Just a bit of room for improvement or adjustment.

Spoke shave shavings

It doesn't look that bad and I'm glad how it came out. I still don't know why I have hesitated.

Beside that, you see I've done a lot with the spoke shave now. I had some difficulties at the very beginning of using a spoke shave. I think it was a combination of missing sharpness, wrong handling and finally getting familiar with.
We are becoming friends more and more.

What's Next

After shaping the leg outsides I still have to decide what to do with the insides. Shall I round it over too?
I think I need another test assembly to have clearer picture.

The very next step is to shape the table top. Same story, I'm hesitating. With the moment I start to cut the goose is cooked. I've got no stock left, so I can't do any replacement.

Things are coming together slowly. More slowly than expected. But maybe all this was necessary for my training and skill building.

Stay tuned!


  1. I suspect that some steel or iron, possibly from one of your clamps was the culprit where some glue had dripped or touched it. In saying that any moisture and iron filings/slurry etc would probably do it as well even if embedded in a cloth that comes into contact with the glue line. I think a higher tannin content aggravates this but this is where my knowledge gets a bit sketchy.

    1. Hi,
      thanks for feedback and your thoughts about it. Clamps can be the cause at the single spots but the glue line is black at the complete length and the clamps had been crosswise to the glue line.

  2. Stefan,

    Very nice work. Your wife sounds like mine, one of her friends once said "everything goes into that shop but nothing comes out".....That hurt to the bone :-).


    1. Hi Ken,
      Sounds familiar to me too. :-) Even more if you will hear sentences like: "Oh, we have to run errands this weekend", or "Can you please care about this or that". I guess you know all this stuff too. :-))

  3. Stefan,

    Very nice work. Your wife sounds like mine, one of her friends once said "everything goes into that shop but nothing comes out".....That hurt to the bone :-).


  4. Your first commenter was correct, the black is a reaction of iron and the higher tannin content in Oak and the glue, very typical. Its worse when using blackiron pipe's pipe clamps.

    Depending how deep it got, you should be able to scrape it off just like burn marks from power tools.

    That little table is coming along nicely, should be a beauty.
    Funny how our wifes all seems to react similarly to our ever changings shop priorities:-)
    Mine used to tease me about how long it takes me. Saying Norn (Norm Ahbrams New Yankee Workshop) did it all in 1/2 an hour on TV, what is taking you so long? :-)


    1. Hi Bob,
      I'm aware about this clamp "issue". But never had it before, maybe because I haven't worked with Oak before. But for the glue lines it must be something else because the clamps had been crosswise.

      Most of that stuff I could already scrape it off.

      Really funny how our wifes are thinking about us :-)
      But I believe that they will just tease us. Every time I'm saying "I can build that" she is saying "Well, would be great to have it this year"


  5. Oh man. I know what I have done.
    I have removed the glue squeeze out with a chisel I'm always using for such purposes.
    All along the glue line....
    I'm always doing so and it was never a problem with Pine or Beech.
    Oak seems to be another animal ;-)