Thursday, September 13, 2012

Finishing the Olive Ash Burl Table

Up to this point I had no idea how I would join all the parts of the legs together. I found that if I want to design my own furniture this can be one of the most enjoyable parts of woodworking or the most distressing. We all want our projects to look great without falling apart with the stresses of being used. After milling over a few ideas this is what I decided. I would join the single leg to the double leg with dowels, the double leg would be joined at the bottom with biscuit joinery,and the legs would be attached at the top to the aprons with pocket hole joinery.

The first thing I did was to sand two flat area's on the two adjoining legs and dry fit them checking against the full scale drawing getting them as close as possible.  With that done I could lay them over the single leg mark it out and cut it fit. Fortunately the legs had such a slight radius at the top as to be almost flat. This meant I could cut the leg  with a miter saw and it would lay up tight to the adjoining leg.

 I marked a couple lines for dowels and drilled holes on the top of the legs with a doweling jig. I used center finding pins in the holes and pushed them up against the mating leg, this gave me marks to drill the next holes.A bevel gauge gave me the angle to drill the holes. I used a drill press to drill the holes and with a set of dowels did a dry fit to check its fit. With that done I laid the two adjoining legs across the top apron and marked the cut. Once again I could use the miter saw to cut the angle because of such a slight radius.

With everything dry fitted I could move onto the stretchers. I didn't want to use a straight piece between the legs with all the curves going on and as luck would have it I found an old form that would work great for the stretchers.

After gluing up two 3" wide pieces of laminated oak with the burl veneer on either side it was just a matter of cutting 1" wide strips. I  laid them flat against the legs, marked the legs, and drilled out the mortices.

With everything dry fitted I could now cut the apposing tappers in the legs.

Now that I knew everything would fit I could glue the legs together. I had to get a little creative with the clamps but it seamed to work out OK.

  Before I  glued the stretchers to the legs I had to get them ebonized. This is the first time I had done this process so I had to learn from trial and error. I used oak from different trees so the tannin levels were different and I could not get consistent results.

The answer was to use a tree bark tea (quebarcho extract) as a wash to raise the tannin levels in the wood. The process is fully explained in an artical from Popular Woodworking Ebonizing Wood.

Once the legs were ebonized I gave them several coats of lacquer. I could now finish the glue up with the stretchers. I had already finished the stretchers with shellac to match the top and bring some color into the black base. I just taped the seams to prevent glue from getting onto the parts.

With the base glued up I added some straight stretchers across the top to join the aprons and give me something to attach the top to.

Here are a few pictures of the finished table.

1 comment:

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