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Here is how it all came about. My wife found a picture of a contemporary round end table somewhere on the internet that she really liked. No pattern, no plan.....just the picture. I had no dimensions to go by other than the overall height and width of the table. This was going to be a challenge for me. Not that I couldn't make it happen, just that the table had a round top and what I call totally sculptured or contoured legs. I had no idea of what the radii of the leg arcs might be or what angles that where present in that table.
The way I approached this was to mock up the shape of the legs by making some cardboard templates and by trial and error, arrived at a pattern that seemed like it would work. Anyone interested in the rest of this build process can follow along in the text below but for now, the final product as it now sits beside one of our recliners is seen here in the photo below.
Here's the rest of the build story..................
As I said in the beginning, I had to make up some templates for the legs so that I could mock up four of these templates to see if they would work. It took me a few trial samples of these templates to determine what the contoured legs would end up making the final table top size. After setting up the templates in the position that they would ultimately be in, I could then see how large the top would have to be. I intended to use tenons at the top of the legs that would eventually fit into mortises on the underneath side of the top. I wanted these mortises in the underneath side of the top to be set at least 1/4 inch inside the top's overall radius. After the mock up, I was able to determine that the overall diameter of the top would have to be 24 inches.
the diameter of the top was found, the next step was to glue up some of
the quarter sawn six quarter oak that I had purchased into a panel large
enough to cut out the 24 inch diameter. After running some 8 1/2"
wide boards through the jointer to get some good gluing edges on them,
I glued them together and clamped them up to dry. You can see a picture
here on the right of that panel in the clamps. After drying, I set
the panel to the side for later work.
Next I cut some cross pieces that were to fit across the bottom inside the legs. These cross pieces would hold a smaller round shelf that would fit between the legs with mortise and tenon joinery. I marked up the finished legs on their lower inside edges where I wanted to locate the mortises. I also marked the opposing ends for the tenons that would fit into the round top. (I forgot to mention that in the design of the legs, I added 3/4" extra material at the top of the legs to allow for making the tenons). On the left side of the page you can see a photo of all these pieces after the layout lines had been marked on them.
I moved these pieces to the table saw where I had set up a 3/4 inch wide dado set and cut the tenons in the bottom cross pieces and into the upper ends of the table legs. The photo on the right shows some of these pieces laying on the side table of the saw after they had been cut.
Now it was time for the hard part! I had to figure out a way to cut the mortises in the bottom ends of each leg piece.......not that cutting a mortise is particularly hard but clamping an extremely contoured piece of wood in order to do it was the real problem I faced. All of a sudden it hit me.... I could use the cutoff portions from when I cut the pieces from the original square boards, mate a piece of them to the sawn out legs and then clamp them to my work bench. This worked out perfectly for me as you can see from the three photos below.
The next thing along the process was to put a small 1/8" bevel on the long edges of each of the legs on both sides. I wanted to make the legs a little more attractive by doing this and it would also help keep the edges from splintering or from getting nicks in them so easily. The picture on the left shows me using my Bosch trim router to perform this operation along the side of one of the legs.
the legs were all chamfered along their edges, I laid them aside and grabbed
the two lower cross pieces. I marked them near their center for the
areas that would be cut out and where they would ultimately be joined together
making a "cross". I performed this operation on the band saw by sawing
out small segments of the stock that was to be removed and finished the
cutouts with a chisel. The picture on the right shows how these pieces
looked after cutting the little segments on the band saw and prior to taking
out the excess material with the chisel.
O.K.......Now at this point, I was ready to move on to preparing the top. I laid out the 24" diameter on the glued up panel that I showed you at the very beginning of this article and cut out the rough size (about 1/16" outside my marked line) on the band saw. Sorry, no picture of this operation. After the top was cut to rough shape, I clamped it to my work bench and sanded it smooth to the lines with my Porter Cable compact belt sander. When this was done, I grabbed my trim router and put a 1/2" wide bevel around the entire edge of the top.
After the bevels were completed
around the top, I flipped it over, marked the locations of the mortises
by using the clamped up legs as a location pattern and then moved it to
the drill press. This is where I used a 1/4" forstner bit to rough
drill the tenons in the underneath side of the top at the marked locations.
After the tenons were rough drilled, I moved the top back to the work bench
to finish paring out the mortises with my chisels. Some of these operations
can be viewed in the photos below.
The last thing that had to be done prior to applying the finish was to glue the bottom section of the leg assembly to the top using the tenons at the tops of the legs and the tenons on the underneath side of the table top. Here in the picture below you can see this operation being performed with the table and assembly sitting on my workbench.
Well, that's about it for the build up photos. I didn't get any pictures of applying the finish but, as mentioned previously, I wanted to use the same finish that I had used on our built-in library and TV cabinet. I used Orange TransTint® wood dye on the wood and after it had dried, I lightly sanded all surfaces, tacked them off with a tack cloth and then applied some Dark Walnut gel stain. I finished off the table with three full coats of satin polyurethane. Here's what it looked like after it had been finished.
Again, I hope you get as much enjoyment reading about this project as I had making it. As always, your comments whether negative or positive are always welcome.
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