A Sofa Table

Chip Sawdust

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Our little dog has a tendency to jump up on the back of our sofa, which is not against a wall, so Mama asked me to build a table to give the dog a visual and if all else fails, so,etching to land on before she hits the floor, if she ever does overshoot the target, so to speak.

i chose sapele and maple, which seem to go together well. I had made some inlays for it but found later I made them too big for the legs and that changed my design direction midstream. :) It happens to me a lot. I am an imperfect woodworker! 

One always must start with a plan...  which for me typically look like this



As you can see, I carefully identified all the critical measurements and put down the tiniest detail! OK no, but I did think quite a bit about the Fibonacci sequence in trying to fit form and function, as well as make it look presentable. Presen-Table, get it! :) 

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Once one has a plan and materials it’s easy from there. I had the sapele laying around for a couple years; it was thinking about being a desk but I thought different. But maple and mahogany are best buds so I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Throw a little tiger maple in there for accent of course. 




31 minutes ago, K Cooper said:

I don’t see any kind of “stop” on the back side of the top;)

Wifey mixed that idea *shrug* :) 

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I went with long tenons - why not, the apron is wide so make the tenon as strong as possible. The front apron is sapele while the rear apron was maple. Things that don’t show, I tend to not pay as much attention to detail, and I made my mortises too long on the rear legs, dang it. But... they don’t show, so only I and you all know!

I hand cut the tenons so score a line, kinda like making dovetails, then grab thé carcasse saw and go at it.





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The table top got tiger maple “breadboards.” They were going to be honest-to-goodness breadboards when I started, but I didn’t want to shorten the long piece of sapele so I fashioned a funky router mortise centering jig and made a split to join the parts together. Yeah, I had to stand on my bench to do it but hey, whatever works! 







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Now here’s where I made either a really bad decision or just forgot how to run a jigsaw. I wanted continuous grain on the apron, and though I could’ve ripped and reflues it on the bandsaw, I opted for the drill hole/jigsaw method. Jigsaw blades tend to angle themselves when cutting thick wood and that is what happened here. I had to do a lot of hand trimming to make it right for fitting drawers. 


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With a jig left over from my G&G bed frame, I thought the front apron would look good with a cloud lift. I thought about tapers and other mods, but this turned out ok. It started as more of a Federal project but morphed into more craftsman style. It’s a stylistic combo, thrown on top of my own design. I’m ok with it :) 

To go along with that since my fan inlays were a tad large for the legs (another imperfect woodworker story), I opted for the pop of ebony inserts against the white maple. Judge for yourself but I think it worked. I checked out a few different locations and landed on this arrangement. 


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For some reason I decided the drawer faces should be grain matched from the center. This isn’t really something the eye can see but what the heck. So I took the tiger maple to the bandsaw and although the grain does go two ways from the center, the main advantage was thinner drawer fronts which look pretty good. 


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Fast forward to the drawers, not much new there. Three drawers, dovetails and plywood bottoms nailed (yes, nailed!) into the rabbeted bottoms of the drawers. 


I used amber shellac for the vertical surfaces. No shellac for the table top, it needs to be far more durable. I applied wax to the sides of the drawers.

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So another bad thing happened on the way to making this table. I klutzed around in the shop and knocked one of the drawers on the floor. The face broke... and it already had finish on it. It was done, ready to go. (Insert various curses here) 

So I sanded and shaved off the wood that was sticking out, test fit the pieces, temporarily installed a block to help clamp it, and put a few clamps on the pieces to make the break line as minimal as possible. I couldn’t just shave the wood off and replace it - grain matching, remember? It worked better than I thought. 

Drawer pulls from Amazon...




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Sapele is kind of grainy so I used this stuff for the first time. Although the surface is ice and smooth, I’m not happy with the surfacing I did on the table top. Wish I would’ve run it through my planer and flattened it better. 

After the Aqua Seal I put a couple coats of Johnson’s wax which made it shiny and .... slick! 



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