Rach’s Walnut Coffee Table
A month or so ago I bought a huge load of walnut from an old fellow in Bloomington. I built this coffee table from that walnut.
First I selected the pieces that would make this project.
From one of the huge slabs I ripped two square strips, and from those I made the legs.
Then I cut the apron, the part of the table that holds the legs together and fastens it to the top.
Cut the tenons of the apron. I cut a test mortise to make sure they were a tight fit.
Then I made the table top.
When I had them jointed and planed to moderately even thickness I glued them up with the use of dowel pins.
When it came out of the clamps I used a hand plane and smoothed out the uneven parts.
Then I milled the breadboard ends. The breadboard’s function is to keep the table from cupping or bowing over time. However, as the tabletop will expand and contract with seasonal humidity, you cant glue the breadboard on, it has to be able to slide. So what we do is add pegs to keep it on tight. The side pegs (where the boards will be moving) sit in grooves that allow movement, while the middle peg sits flush and prevents the breadboard itself from moving. First I marked out where the breadboard would come to, and defined the shoulder on the table saw.
Then I routed out the waste to make the long tenon for the breadboard.
Then I cut the mortise for the breadboards, chanfered the edges, and cut three square holes for the pegs.
Then I transferred the hole spacing to the table top, and cut the corresponding peg holes, leaving room on the ends for wood expansion.
To cut the bottom, curved apron, I cut a template from hardboard, then traced that onto the walnut, cut a rough outline, then used a flush-trim bit on the router to mill both pieces to perfect equal curves.
Then I mortised out the legs and cut the bottom crossbar.
All the pieces ready to go.
Glued up. The top is held to the apron by Z-fasteners from Rockler that sit in a 3/32” groove cut in the apron pieces.
I finished it with 1/3 boiled linseed oil, 1/3 mineral spirits, 1/3 polyurethane, a favorite of Sam Maloof. It allows a close-to-the-wood look while providing some protection from water etc. It took 5 days to put the finish on.
The night I finished it.