Monday, July 2, 2012

The Schwiegereltern Table

OK, I have a confession. Not all of my woodworking is completed in my storage room workshop. Last fall I started a pencil-post bed (wait until you see photos of that!), and that just was too big for my small shop the way it was set up. So, I started using the woodshop on the Army post. Here are a couple photos:

Unfortunately the planer is total junk, and is unuseable. The table saw is OK for rough cuts as long as you keep in mind that you must square everything up later. And the bandsaws are little toy shaped things which are nice for making puzzles, but not for resawing or anything remotely hard-core.

 That being said, there is lots of space, comparitively. And if I really need to, there is another Army post a couple hours drive away that has an awesome 15" planer and a mongo 24" thickness planer that work beautifully. The benches are decent commercial benches. However, I have to say using a bench that doesn't move like the roubo now in my keller is a lot different than using a bench that "pretty much" doesn't move. With current government budgets, though, I think these woodshops have an end coming sometime soon, as they aren't really generating income to pay staff. We'll see.

Anyway, yesterday I got the good fortune to work for a couple hours in this shop on a table that SWMBO offered I make for her parents. I had never made a dining table before, so thought this might be a good chance to practice. If it is too embarassing, at least I won't have to look at it every day. The true purpose of this table is for me to practice making a table, as I plan to make a dining table for our second apartment.

This table is perfect for practice, as it is not big at all. I think it is only something like 700mm X 1100mm. The lumber yard I go to let me pick out the oak boards I am using for this project, so I got some awesome 8/4 perfectly quartersawn boards, directly from the middle of the tree. Sweet!

I laminated the legs together, and veneered the two faces of each leg so every face shows quarter sawn grain. You'll get pictures of the legs and skirts later. Joinery is very basic: mortice and tennons with no fancy adjustable sizes or anything. 

On with the good part: Yesterday I was working on the top. Having glued up the panel for the top in my keller, I brought this project to the Army shop because chopping morices by hand is likely to get us evicted. The last thing I want is the house to vote that woodworking is forbidden in the keller. I think I would lose 39-1. So the point is to not be annoying (a tall order, for me).

Now that the project is in the Army shop, I might as well finish it there since my new bench isn't done yet. I want a large bevel on the top of this table. Ever since I saw a picture of the dining table in a woodworking book I have, I wanted to try it. What better opportunity to see if something works than for the in-laws!

Laying out the chamfer with a pencil gauge.

I thought it best to start with the cross-grain and clamp some scrap to keep from blowing out the far end.

See, it works!  Blowing out the scrap instead.

I chose to do the roughing out of this chamfer with my scrub plane.  I am finding lots of uses for this plane lately.

When I get close to the line, clean things up with my jack set for a smooth cut.

A closer view of my scrub's sole.

A nasty knot appeared on the bevel near the backside of the table.  You can see the smaller knot on the top, next to it.  My plan was to fill this in with shellac when I got to that point.  This larger knot might be more problematical.  I'm thinking of putting in a patch to cover it up.  What do you think?

Views of the corners when done.


  1. Hey Brian, Glad you fessed up about your working space. I was beginning to cry for you, man.

  2. Hey, this seems an intersting project. I am looking forward to see it progressing...

  3. Hey Brian,

    I'm coming into the conversation a little late but if I'm following your posts correctly, you haven't finished this table yet. I say leave the knot, it doesn't look like it's going to be a structural issue (won't fall out) and if it's the only one, it will add a little of the unexpected. If you absolutely feel the need to remove the knot, then maybe a nice personalized inlay. Something that speaks to you and your work or the intended recipients.

    It may be tough to accomplish because it looks like the knot reaches the outside edge and I'm not sure how an inlay would look in 3 dimensions. I saw an example posted on TWW by a user who built a kitchen island and used inlays of trout to honor his grandfather. Here's the link if you're interested.

    Be sure to let us know which way you go and good luck!

    1. Hey Ronald, you've found out my dark secret... I can take a long time to finish a project. I feel bad because this table hasn't seen much work for around three weeks or so. It is almost done!

      Good advice, though. I think I will do what you say and leave it alone. Chances are I could spend an aweful lot of work on a solution that may or may not look any better.

      Pretty much all that is left is to screw the top on using some homemade buttons, and to bore some levelers into the legs. I decided to go this rout because it's intended home has a fairly uneven floor, and I would like to see it stand up straight without rocking without beer coasters under the feet. I'll let you know how it goes.