ask-anton

Help with the dining table project, Guanacaste slab.

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone, I've been slowly working on the dining table project. Really need some help with identifying the type of wood to use for the legs, as well as some advice on dimensions of the lumber. I've been learning joint techniques on examples, reading books on joinery, Shakers furniture, etc. Still consider myself a beginner at this, there is so much to learn.

To give you an idea of the project, some pictures of the slab below. 8.8 ft long, 3ft wide on average.

20180116_193017.thumb.jpg.6ba94684b6f36f6be1ea7d6144d89958.jpg

20180221_004400.thumb.jpg.469c4d2c089221ac86410ebab5608904.jpg

20180502_210259.thumb.jpg.3e4632de88f8489da4834a51c8d40a1a.jpg

20180502_210320.thumb.jpg.1500e630b0115cdc08acf464bd2a400d.jpg

20180321_233736.thumb.jpg.f790763847a966720ae7d3aa376d8b24.jpg

The question I'm stuck at the moment is the sizing for the lumber to use for table legs. This is  where I got the inspiration, but I'm not sure what dimension of lumber to use. From what I gather, the two runners and crossbeams are 4x4, and the legs been cut from a 4x6 to accommodate for the splay without loosing thickness. Could someone with an eye for this please tell me approximately lumber dimension to start with? 

 

Another question, is what kind of lumber is suitable for this design above? Would Douglass fir work for these joints? Seems to me soft wood would be okay, since Japan has predominately softwoods as I have read. And this design above is definitely Japanese joinery inspired. If someone could share an article or share some knowledge on choosing woods for table base and legs, that would help a lot, thank you guys.

 

Mesa-Ban-3.thumb.jpg.afc0041099e986fcd15edbcaf8fdf349.jpg

Mesa-Ban-8.thumb.jpg.fcafb97cf06ad7da20725013b33976a1.jpg

Mesa-Ban-6.thumb.jpg.f3ebf3c2768338a09f7861af108a8720.jpg

Mesa-Ban-5.thumb.jpg.abd86d1541529d4d664a1e8dec3091e2.jpg

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you have estimated the dimensions very well.

As for using Douglas Fir, it will certainly hold the table up, and will probably look quite nice, provided the grain patterns are chosen carefully. If you can source some old growth, with tight grain lines, it will likely be fine. Fir harvested from fast-growing trees will have more of the soft growth exposed, and is likely to show wear, especially the lower parts of the legs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not particularly a big fan of slabs but I do like the design of that base.  Considering the color and swirling grain in your slab, I'd think you would want to go with something nicer than D Fir for your base.  I like something dark with a little more action in the grain if it were me.  First thing that came to mind for me was Jatoba but I don't know that you need something that hard or at that price point.  The color would work well, however.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The lumber for the base is sold rough sawn, kiln dried in increments starting in 4/4, meaning four quarter or one inch material. Which dresses to a little more than 3/4". Material is also available in thickness of 5/4, 6/4/ 8/4, 12/4 and some bigger. Laminating is normal and typical in the very thick dimensions. Nicer if you don't have to laminate. If you can wipe the slabs with a little alcohol it might be easier to ID the wood. The last finished pictures look like walnut with sap wood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

I think you have estimated the dimensions very well.

As for using Douglas Fir, it will certainly hold the table up, and will probably look quite nice, provided the grain patterns are chosen carefully. If you can source some old growth, with tight grain lines, it will likely be fine. Fir harvested from fast-growing trees will have more of the soft growth exposed, and is likely to show wear, especially the lower parts of the legs.

Thank you for feedback, wtnhighlander. I've read your post on the Table of Epic Duration, thank you for sharing about plaster of Paris to use as a pore filler. The surface looks amazing.

Do you have some guidelines on making benches for the tables without trestle style bases? You've mentioned this in the Table of Epic Duration story. Maybe the bench can have a sloping corner, or a folding corner, in order to work better with table legs? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/13/2019 at 9:39 AM, Byrdie said:

I'm not particularly a big fan of slabs but I do like the design of that base.  Considering the color and swirling grain in your slab, I'd think you would want to go with something nicer than D Fir for your base.  I like something dark with a little more action in the grain if it were me.  First thing that came to mind for me was Jatoba but I don't know that you need something that hard or at that price point.  The color would work well, however.

Thank you, Byrdie. I'll call to see if there are some stores which carry Jatoba near me. I like that base a lot too, simplicity of the design is what appeals to me, as well as ability to clean under the table with ease. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/13/2019 at 1:17 PM, curlyoak said:

The lumber for the base is sold rough sawn, kiln dried in increments starting in 4/4, meaning four quarter or one inch material. Which dresses to a little more than 3/4". Material is also available in thickness of 5/4, 6/4/ 8/4, 12/4 and some bigger. Laminating is normal and typical in the very thick dimensions. Nicer if you don't have to laminate. If you can wipe the slabs with a little alcohol it might be easier to ID the wood. The last finished pictures look like walnut with sap wood.

I'm not sure if I worded this correctly, I'm not trying to id the wood. The slab is Guanacaste; table legs is an example of the design I'm planing on making, and I was wondering which woods would be reliable in this frame design. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, ask-anton said:

Thank you, Byrdie. I'll call to see if there are some stores which carry Jatoba near me. I like that base a lot too, simplicity of the design is what appeals to me, as well as ability to clean under the table with ease. 

 

I think the red heughs of jatoba would be fantastic under there.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, ask-anton said:

I'm not sure if I worded this correctly, I'm not trying to id the wood. The slab is Guanacaste; table legs is an example of the design I'm planing on making, and I was wondering which woods would be reliable in this frame design. 

 The joints are all just bridle joints. Most woods in my opinion would be strong enough. I'm always partial to hardwoods and honestly, the base will make or break the whole piece. IMHO, if you're putting it on Douglas fir legs, it's broken. Not for the structural integrity, but the athletic.

Either dark tones and straight grain or a contrasting wood like red jatoba or even carefully color matched Maple. The base you linked for inspiration is beautiful and should be relatively easy to execute given proper care is given to setup of the cuts in a few critical cuts.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, ask-anton said:

Thank you for feedback, wtnhighlander. I've read your post on the Table of Epic Duration, thank you for sharing about plaster of Paris to use as a pore filler. The surface looks amazing.

Do you have some guidelines on making benches for the tables without trestle style bases? You've mentioned this in the Table of Epic Duration story. Maybe the bench can have a sloping corner, or a folding corner, in order to work better with table legs? 

I think a bench looks best with the same leg design as the table it belongs with. I'd suggest making the legs wide enough to fit outside the table legs when the bench is tucked under the table. Narrower looks good, but makes the bench 'tippy' at the ends. I got away with it, because the bench is pretty heavy, but a lighter design will spill someone into the floor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

I think a bench looks best with the same leg design as the table it belongs with. I'd suggest making the legs wide enough to fit outside the table legs when the bench is tucked under the table. Narrower looks good, but makes the bench 'tippy' at the ends. I got away with it, because the bench is pretty heavy, but a lighter design will spill someone into the floor.

20190514_215248.thumb.jpg.0a1a1bc04797f20c6fae07f524b9b025.jpg

Is this what you mean? What about the sliding into or out of the seated position, with the legs at the corners, could something be done to improve this? 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Brendon_t said:

 The joints are all just bridle joints. Most woods in my opinion would be strong enough. I'm always partial to hardwoods and honestly, the base will make or break the whole piece. IMHO, if you're putting it on Douglas fir legs, it's broken. Not for the structural integrity, but the athletic.

Either dark tones and straight grain or a contrasting wood like red jatoba or even carefully color matched Maple. The base you linked for inspiration is beautiful and should be relatively easy to execute given proper care is given to setup of the cuts in a few critical cuts.

Thanks for feedback, Brendon. I'm still looking what I can source in the area; adding maple to the list. There is a store near me with a large selection of reclaimed old growth Douglass Fir, from pre-WWII buildings. That's why initially my thoughts went there. If you think of anything else, or any articles, please send them my way. Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, ask-anton said:

20190514_215248.thumb.jpg.0a1a1bc04797f20c6fae07f524b9b025.jpg

Is this what you mean? What about the sliding into or out of the seated position, with the legs at the corners, could something be done to improve this? 

 

Yes, the diagram on the left is my suggestion. I think I understand your concern about seating, that the wide-spread legs may interfere with user access. In most cases, I think you will find that people will step into position before sitting, rather than sliding from the end. But with narrow legs, anyone seated near the end is in for a surprise.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other advantage of wider legs on the bench is that you don't end up with a long unsupported section of bench outside the legs.  Too long a piece ends up acting like a teeter totter when someone sits on it.  Don't ask me how I know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now