Kitchen table and built-in seating

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This has been a long running project, and it's not quite done, but I am posting anyway.


Here is the [almost] completed project:




The table and seating area is made of QSWO, and the base for the seat is MDF.


A couple more views


A better view at the storage:



I have not built the boxes that go there, but they will also be QSWO, about 12w" x 12d" x 10h"


Another shot:



You can here here that the base is not completed on the left front.  I need to clad the base and the exposed back in some kind of wainscot.


Here's a top-down view of the corner, probably the most difficult part to get right:




Some background on the build:


First was getting the material.  I spent a few hours picking the best QSWO boards I could find.  This is not all of it.  I think I spent around $1000 for all of the wood, but I had a bunch left over.




I actually built the table first, then the seating, but these pictures are mixed together.  The wood for the table was hand face-jointed, then planed with lunchbox planer.  The wood for the seating was face-jointed with a router sled, then planed.  Both methods leave a lot to be desired, mostly in time used and mess.  I really want a jointer machine.  Here's some of the planing:




Most of that mess is actually from the face-jointing with the router.  I was able to use the Incra rails on my table saw as the rails for the sled.  I have 4-5 miter slots with little "clamps" that hold the wood as I face joint.  It actually works very well, but it is time consuming and very messy.


For the seating, I wanted the grain to run vertically and continuously from back to seat, so I had to glue up a very long panel.  This was just for one section (the long section of the seat).  In hind-sight, I should have made an even longer panel which would include both sections, so I could cut it all in one pass and not worry about the sections being ever so slightly off when gluing them to each other. 




This panel with the grain oriented this way is incredibly weak.  I had to be very careful about moving it.  


Another shot of the glue-up (this is about 11 ft long)




This was glued up in sections, starting with 2 panels to each other, the 2 panels to 2 panels, and so on.

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After the panel is glued up, it's time to cut the seat, base and cap.  These require miter joint so the grain appears continuous.  Using the track saw did the trick, but you have to be very careful to use even pressure on the track.  You also really need support for the track before an after the material.  If you don't, the track will flex, and the miter angle will change.  You also need clamps to prevent the track from moving.  Doing clamps -and- support before after the material is damn hard!  On most of these I did not have support for the track before/after, and the angle did change.  I could avoid some of the error by not using the very beginning/end of the panel.




I also had the track saw just die towards the end of one cut.  I was not happy green koolaid drinking person at that moment.  Actually I was pretty damn pissed off!  You really don't want to start/stop/start a cut like this.  These saw go like a dream in MDF or plywood, but give them a hardwood, and you will find its limits.


Once the panels are mitered, it's time for dominos, lots of them.  I can't think of anything else that could possibly work here.  Dowels?  No way.  Biscuits?  No strength.  Spline?  Don't see it happening.




FYI, the panel on the left if the seat-back, and the panel on the right is the seat-bottom.  They join at a 95 degree angle.  that panel combined, joins to the other section (there are two parts of a "L" section).   That joining of the two sections is "mitered" as well.  For the seat bottom, it's pretty clear what you need, a 45 degree cut across the panel itself  On the seat back, since it is inclined 5 degrees off vertical, the angle of the miter is not 45, but (I don't recall right now the exact value).  That corner IMO is the most critical joint.


Here's the same section in mock up:




And a dry fit:




Here is a glue-up of the shorter section, seat back to seat cap.  I used these temporary glue-blocks to have the clamps squeeze int he right direction and not slip.  These glue blocks are actually glued on the piece before hand.




Before that I glued the seat bottom to the seat back without those glue blocks, and it was a near catastrophe.  Trying the glue up panels which are not simple 90 degree joints is very difficult!


Once the joint is dry, the glue blocks can be knocked off




Then most of the remains chiseled off (carefully)




And the final bit sanded off




On the longer section, I made angle braces so I was sure the 95 degree angle was spot on.  The shorter section did not get this, and it was slightly off




On the bottom-left, you can see how the glue-blocks were used on the back side (using the quick clamp).  There are about 9 more of those down the panel.  That's what ensures a very tight miter joint.

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And the seat-back to the seat-cap.




OK, now that we have each section glued up, they need to be glued to each other.  The section above needs to be glued to the section below




So, what's the probability that both sections fit together perfectly?  1 in a million?  Let's see, each section of the panel needs to be exactly the same width, the 95 degree angle that the [bottom, seat[ panels join from both sections need to be the same, the miters on the bottom panels need to have the perfect angle to join with out a gap, (and the caps, too).  The bevel angle in the seat back panels also need to be perfect.  Did I just ensure total failure?  Almost.


Having the panel widths exactly the same would have been easy if I made my initial cuts to form the panels (for -both- sections) from the one gigantic panel (~4ft x 17ft).  I did not, but I did re-cut them before I reached this point to get them to pretty much unmeasurable differences.  Even after you make the bevel cuts to join bottom, seat, cap panels, at least the bottom and cap could be trimmed to width on one end.


So, I think I got the panel widths correct, the 95 degree angle that each section has (between seat bottom and back) were not a perfect match, but the wood was flexible enough and the angles close enough to make that work (we're talking 0.5 degree difference here).


The biggest challeng, IMO is the miter/bevel that joins one seat back from one section to the other seat back from the other section.  That required a bevel to hundredths of a degree, In other words, it is going to happen with a track saw.  All you can do is get very close.  Don't set your angle with the gauge on the saw -use a digital protractor.  Even with that, it won't be perfect.  So, the next option is, a shooting plane:




OK, not an actual shooting plane, but the same concept.  What we want is the panel on the left to have it's joining faces all be on the same plane.  I don't have a 20" wide jointer handy, so I made a sanding "plane".  The object on the right is essentially a giant sanding block with 90 degree sides.  I run this against that section, and while it does not ensure a perfect 45 degree miter, it does get the joining surface all on the same plane.


BTW, if you are looking for 11 x 18 sticky back sand paper, the floor sanding places have them.


When doing this, you realize there was no way these sections were going to join together without gaps without doing this.   After both sections were sanded, in went more dominos:




And a dry-fit to make sure it was good




Again, more glue blocks to clamp this together.  


And from the back



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Removal of the glue blocks after




You can see a very tiny gap at the front (damn).  Fixed this later.


Another shot of the corner.  I don't think I have worked so hard on a single joint before




Wider shot




Waterlox finish




Honestly, the table seemed like a walk in the park compared to the bench seat.  I don't have a lot of photos, but here are some:


A view of the legs.  I went with posts in the middle so people can slide in/out of the bench seat without hitting the table




All joinery was dominos




Bessey clamp tribute





Just about done




Table done




And that's it!  I won't bother with pictures of the MDF base build.  This was a very difficult build for me, mainly because I have not built anything since high school (long time ago) and never this big.  I learned quite a bit my making mistakes, luckily none of which that had me start over completely.  One of the more difficult things was simply dealing with large objects.  gluing up things 10 feet long is not easy. Simply moving it is not easy!  And then there's having space to do it.  My garage was a total disaster during this build.


In the end it was all worth it.  This table and seat is used every single day.  There are some minor issues, but nothing stopping us from enjoying it for decades to come.

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WOW.  Andrew this is incredible.  Very nicely done.  You're right that dealing with pieces this large is a big challenge.  And all these angles would've made my head explode.  Great build - make sure you journal the next one!


I'm also curious as to how many people it took to carry that monster into the house?

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