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Yet another coffee table design

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  • Yet another coffee table design

    Our coffee table has aged out to the family room and we've decided that I shall build a replacement that hopefully will be better than MDF alternatives in the stores. Here is my Sketchup design so far for the legs and apron. Construction: birch, legs 3" square top to 2" square bottom (3:2 taper ratio), apron 3/4" x 4", tenons 1/4" x 7/8", braces glue and screw into the corners. The top will be birch frame, plywood base and tiles. Height 15" to match the old one, which worked well for us. Finish: wipe dye+stain and brush gloss polyuerthane.

    Comments welcome, thanks.
    Attached Files

  • #2

    Re: Yet another coffee table design

    Re: Yet another coffee table design

    Hi, it should be a nice table.

    My only comment is that with M&T construction, I wouldn't include the diagonal braces..............Regards, Rod.

    P.S. I've included a photo of the coffee table I just completed. This photo is missing the grout, which is a tan colour......As you can see, I like tile tops also.
    Attached Files
    Work is the curse of the riding class.

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    • #3

      Re: Yet another coffee table design

      Re: Yet another coffee table design

      You might consider starting the curve on the lower edge of the apron right at the legs as opposed to having the straight sections. And I agree with Rod, the corner braces are overkill, especially with legs so short and beefy.

      Jim B

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      • #4

        Re: Yet another coffee table design

        Re: Yet another coffee table design

        Agree with the comments re corner braces. If you want a bit more strength, why not go to 1" tenons?
        Regards,
        Hans Braul
        SPCHT

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        • #5

          Re: Yet another coffee table design

          Re: Yet another coffee table design

          I like the look of it. To my eye, the straight section on the apron adds a very subtle detail to a simple design

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          • #6

            Re: Yet another coffee table design

            Re: Yet another coffee table design

            The angle braces may not be essential but on the other hand, I don't see them doing the piece any harm. Coffee tables take a lot of pushing and pulling. In my house "people" like to rest their feet against the edge and sit on the couch, effectively pushing the table (racking the legs) so why not install the extra braces? They don't show in the finished piece so to my mind they just may be "cheap insurance". The idea of larger tenons would seem to fit in the same category as well, three inch leg with only a 3/4" tenon? may as well bring the tenons in an inch or so, they will still clear each other in the leg.

            Have you thought about a lower shelf for the table? or a couple of small pull out drawers for the remote? Would change the style but just thinking of utility.
            If you can't grow it, catch it, or build it, what makes you think you need it?

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            • #7

              Re: Yet another coffee table design

              Re: Yet another coffee table design

              Originally posted by Birchwoodguy View Post
              The angle braces may not be essential but on the other hand, I don't see them doing the piece any harm.
              I agree, it wouldn't do any harm. It's just that to me, design involve all aspects, including those not visible. Just seems more elegant to exclude the braces and says, "a woodworker made this table". In the extreme, why not put a couple of steel I beams underneath to really beef things up? We all draw the line in a different place, so there are many solutions, which I respect. My 2 cents...
              Hans Braul
              SPCHT

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              • #8

                Re: Yet another coffee table design

                Re: Yet another coffee table design

                Originally posted by ergeek View Post
                why not put a couple of steel I beams underneath to really beef things up? We all draw the line in a different place, so there are many solutions, which I respect. My 2 cents...
                Understood.

                Could cast it in reinforced concrete as well, but then that is not really woodwork. We do all have to draw a line somewhere -true- but I believe we can all agree one of the things we all hope to do to separate our work from the "MASS PRODUCED JUNK" is to build lasting furniture. Of all the furniture in my home, the piece that has needed attention most often is the coffee table. It gets pushed around, stepped on, leaned against, sat on and used as a foot rest generally taking a good beating in the process. (Teen-agers are furniture's worst enemy)

                So with that in mind I merely suggest the OP'er may want to consider the small investment in time and material for additional leg stability a good use of time and material to preserve the tables' structural integrity for the long term, since the small braces don't show they are not an artistic design element, only structural.
                If you can't grow it, catch it, or build it, what makes you think you need it?

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                • #9

                  Re: Yet another coffee table design

                  Re: Yet another coffee table design

                  Update:

                  Now that I'm finally getting the hang of Sketchup, the learning curve has been worth it. I can design and build the piece in the virtual world before wrecking wood in the real world. I don't do enough woodworking to blast ahead, and SU gives me a way to think it all through first.

                  Legs and apron: I'm happy with the design of the legs and apron now. I like the little 3" straight section at the end of each arch, and the dimensions work for my eye. Wife likes it too. I remain undecided about the corner braces, but leaning towards using them -- the table does indeed get a lot of heavy use.

                  Colours: We purchased the tiles. I photographed one and converted it to a Sketchup texture, so what you see in the image is pretty close to reality. The wood colours are also photographed from prior projects: mahohany stain (aniline dye + minwax) that worked for me both on oak and birch projects, and tung oiled birch. So far I'm leaning toward the two-tone look. The tiles need a dark frame, but too much dark wood would make the table look too heavy.

                  Top: I need help now with design of the top.

                  I drew 1/8" space around the tiles for grout. The tiles create design problems. They need to sit on a solid base in case someone sits on the table, so we've settled on 3/4" plywood. I want the plywood to sit on the legs and apron for strength, so that's fine. The edge treatment is problematic. In these photos I'm trying a 1"x2" skirt that I think I would screw/glue into the plywood and then plug the screw holes. Could biscuit into the plywood too maybe, but getting precise mounting with those 45 degree miters would be tricky work. Then I have to build up the frame top to meet the height of the tiles. In the photos I used a 5/16" x 3" wood frame on top of the plywood base/skirt. The main problem there is that this leaves a joint line around the margin of the table frame. I plan to round the corners.

                  So, my questions:
                  1. How does this edge treatment look to you?
                  2. Does that joint line matter?
                  3. Is the depth of the skirt too much? It can be too shallow or too deep pretty easily.
                  4. Is 1/8" around the tiles for grout going to be OK?

                  CoffeeTable 2 in skirt detail.jpg

                  CoffeeTable 2 in skirt.jpg
                  Last edited by kerfin; 03-06-2011, 08:27 AM.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Yet another coffee table design

                    Re: Yet another coffee table design

                    Haven't had any takers yet for this thread. Maybe I can zero in on what might be the main question for building the top: If I attach the solid birch frame pieces directly to the 3/4" plywood board in the top, will wood movement eventually defeat the 45 degree mitre joints? Should I be thinking of a more "woodworker"-like design for the top? I'm stuck on this one. (I plan to attach the top to the legs/apron base using a standard floating method so that wood movement in the aprons will not cause a problem in that joint.) Thanks.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Yet another coffee table design

                      Re: Yet another coffee table design

                      you could do a half lap mitre's on the corner
                      increasing your glueing area , this way your not relying on the end grain only

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                      • #12

                        Re: Yet another coffee table design

                        Re: Yet another coffee table design

                        The problem I see is it doesn't look like you are constraining the mitre faces. I would increase the thickness of the solid piece by about 1/4 or 3/8", then use biscuits or dominos or dowels across the mitre face to prevent it from opening. At 5/16", the thickness of the top piece isn't enough to make a sturdy joint. This would involve adding another 1/4 or 3/8" of plywood so that your tiles are flush in the end. Not sure if it's clear.
                        Hans Braul
                        SPCHT

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                        • #13

                          Re: Yet another coffee table design

                          Re: Yet another coffee table design

                          Thanks guys, I was thinking of using a spline for the main mitre in the thick part of the frame, but still haven't figured out how to deal with the top finish frame. I'm not keen on adding more thickness under the tiles to allow for increasing the thickness of that 5/16" face, but I do need to do something about making that miter hold together. Still pondering...

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                          • #14

                            Re: Yet another coffee table design

                            Re: Yet another coffee table design

                            Originally posted by kerfin View Post
                            Thanks guys, I was thinking of using a spline for the main mitre in the thick part of the frame, but still haven't figured out how to deal with the top finish frame. I'm not keen on adding more thickness under the tiles to allow for increasing the thickness of that 5/16" face, but I do need to do something about making that miter hold together. Still pondering...
                            I've decided to go with the spline joint in the heavy frame component and extend that component to the upper surface of the table. Then for that 5/16" cosmetic frame pieces, rather than a "woodworking" solution which would require adding weight to the table and make for a visible joint on the upper surface, I'm going to grout in either birch strips surrounded by the same grout line dimensions as between the tiles, or replace the wood strips with strips of cut tiles (I have lots of that tile). Travelling right now so cannot update the Sketchup plan.
                            Last edited by kerfin; 03-17-2011, 04:35 AM.

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                            • #15

                              Re: Yet another coffee table design

                              Re: Yet another coffee table design

                              I decided to extend the outer frame to the surface, and might reinforce the miters with walnut splines. Now I need to decide how to finish the space between the whole tiles and that outer frame. Which inner frame surround do you prefer for the top: tiles or wood?
                              Coffee table tile frame 600.jpgCoffee table tiles centered 600.jpgCoffee table wood frame 600.jpg
                              Last edited by kerfin; 04-03-2011, 07:14 PM.

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