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  • Rebekah

TBT: Throwback Thursday--Tables Part 2

One trait that I think serves me well (and gets me into a LOT of trouble) is that I generally think I can do things even when I have no prior experience doing them. Now I don't believe this for conceited reasons. I mostly believe it because I try not to be afraid to try new things, and I do A LOT of research to make sure that I'm doing things right. There are definitely times when I have projects fail, but I really believe that learning to DIY is an exercise in applied research. Cooking and baking, for example, are applied chemistry and physics (maybe even some biology!). Sewing takes a lot of math and spatial reasoning. I try to approach projects with respect. I'm not going to walk into a math test or a chemistry lab with zero prep, and I don't start most projects without at least some understanding of what concepts I'm going to need to be familiar with in order to succeed.


But I digress, we're here to talk about another table. This one was a request from a friend I worked with. I normally don't take commissions, but she was looking for a new coffee table for her apartment and the one she liked on Etsy was basically a badly finished pine console coffee table that someone wanted 600 dollars for. Before I could stop myself, I had volunteered to make her the same table from better quality wood and to do it at cost + a very reduced flat labor charge.


Since Mr. Handy's car can haul things, we drove up to the Woodcraft store to see what kind of nice boards they had there, and came away with a really big board of Sapele (similar to mahogany) for under $100 bucks! My favorite part of going to any woodworking/home improvement store with Mr. Handy is that people always assume he's the one doing the shopping, when he's mostly my ride and a second opinion as needed. They always look sort of puzzled when he just redirects them to me, but generally end up being super nice--I even got invited to a hand tool convention once!


Wood acquired I set to work taking measurements and trying to get the wood flat and square without a planer or a jointer. I would ask myself WHY I had inflicted this job on myself many times during its construction, in large part because we did not own a table saw yet when I started this table. With my live edge tables, I only had worry about making one corner look nice. With this table.... everything seemed to not want to square. There were a lot of weekend afternoons where I just had to walk away because I wanted to set it on fire or throw it down the basement stairs. Thankfully Mr. Handy got me a table saw for our anniversary and made both our lives happier since I don't end up in a very good mood when my projects are going badly.


I didn't take any pics of the table in progress due to my overwhelming rage during its construction, but when I finally finished the table I ended up with this:

console coffee table
It's a LOT harder to make a box than I thought it would be

The picture isn't the best quality, but I'm pretty happy with how this turned out! Let's talk a little about how it's put together!


I constructed the table in two main pieces to minimize screw holes on the top. The divider is screwed into the top with pocket hole screws and wood plugs. The sides are attached to the bottom the same way. So basically you end up with a T shape sitting on top of a U shape. The two pieces are then screwed together, and the screw holes are filled with mahogany wood plugs. I did as much sanding as I could before assembling the pieces, but still needed to do some filling. In case you didn't read my other TBT: Tables post, I'll repeat the tip I have there because I didn't actually learn my lesson until the nightmare of trying to sand the inside corners of this table.

Pro Tip: Make your life much easier by using painter's tape to protect any wood around an area that you're putting wood filler or glue+sawdust. You do not want the sorrow that comes from having to sand of unnecessary glue in a corner later!

I purchased the legs at a really reasonable price on Etsy--unfortunately, the shop I got them from doesn't seem to be around anymore. I bought them unfinished for around 30 bucks for both, and painted and sealed them on my own. The whole table was then sealed with paste wax, and buffed to a shine.


I sometimes daydream about how much easier this would have been with a table saw from the beginning of the project, but at the end of the day, I didn't set it on fire or hurl it down stairs, and my friend is happy with it. I decided to just call that a victory and back away slowly from the table.

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