Everyday Console Table

I call this piece the “everyday table” because you see this design everyday. I spotted this one at Home Goods just last week. It’s kind of a cross between a table and a bookcase. As far as construction goes, it’s very simple. Six framed legs with a top, a couple of shelves and a cross “X” on each side. In fact, there’s a website that shows how to build this table, pocket screws and all.

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Say what you want about the design and construction, but they are very popular and super easy to build. My wife found the website the other week and asked me to customize one to fit in our dining room as a coffee bar.

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Being true to form, I built ours out of southern yellow pine (2 x 10’s). I wasn’t a fan of the thick 2 x 4 legs so I milled all the parts down to 1″ thick.

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Keeping it simple, I used pocket screws and glue to attach all the pieces. The shelves are southern yellow pine boards I ripped and glued back together to create a quarter sawn panel so they wouldn’t expand and contract too much.

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The hardest part about building the piece are the X’s on the sides, but all that entails is cutting a couple of half lap joints.

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Here is the finished bar with a vinegar steel wool solution and gel stain on top to give the wood some depth. The coffee bar has turned more into a display table for my wife’s Rae Dunn collection, but that is another story for another day.

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I have since played around with the design again and built another one using eastern white pine. Construction is similar except I used floating tenons instead of pocket screws to build the frames. I’ll still use the vinegar and steel wool solution again on this one and stain it a dark color. My third design will probably have a thicker top and I may use plywood for the shelves. Stay tuned.

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Making a Harvest Display Table

A few months ago, I built a Harvest Table for my wife to use in her booth to sell some of her antiques. You can read the blog post here. She still has that table, but she asked me to build another one for another booth she has. I went to a local antique store that sells reclaimed wood and bought a 4″ square posts and three pieces of barn wood siding. I have a picture of the wood on instagram. Unfortunately, I deleted the original photo from my phone before I uploaded it to photobucket to share here.

I started this harvest table in much the same way as the first one, turning the legs on the lathe. The major difference is that this table was turned with reclaimed birch instead of douglas fir 4×4’s that I bought at Lowe’s. Turning reclaimed lumber is probably not the smartest thing to do since you never know what the integrity of the wood is as it may snap off while on the lathe injuring you, but I thought I’d take my chances.

A couple of the pieces I wanted to turn had some nails stick stuck in the wood. I grabbed a chisel and hammer and I dug into the wood to extract all nails I could find. There were a couple of nails that were too deep to grab, so I carefully turned the leg, stopping every few strokes making sure I wasn’t near the top of the nail.

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While a couple of the posts had nails holes in them, the other two had old worm holes. I turned each leg the same and in the end, they were full of character. You can see the final four turned legs here.

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With the legs turned, I focused my attention on the top. I took the three slabs of barn wood siding and brought them together to determine how wide the top of the table could be. The boards were only 3/4″ thick and I wanted the top to be thicker, so I took some scrap OSB boards I had laying around from when I was building my shed and built a substrate for the boards.

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I glued and screwed the OSB to the siding gluing in the middle of the boards and screwing on the ends. The siding is so old that I figure the expansion and contraction of the wood would be very minimal. Even if they did crack, it would just add more character to the top of the table.

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I added some pine edging to cover up the OSB substrate underneath the top boards. Cutting the corners is where my miter trimmer comes in handy. I love that thing!

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Flipping the top back over, I figured out where the legs should go. I kept the design simple by using a scrap pieces of edging that were 1 3/8″ wide and making them gauges to show me where the legs should go. Easy P-easy.

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Next was to make the frame of table. I grabbed a 2×12 and milled it to 3/4″ thick by 5″ wide pieces and cut them to fit between the legs.

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I then channeled my inner Scott Phillips of The American Woodshop and used my Kreg Pocket Hole Jig and screwed the frame to the top. I was trying to build this table as quick and as easy as possible. I wasn’t trying to win a woodworking contest with this table.

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I still needed to attach the legs to the frame so I drilled a pilot hole in the legs and screwed in 3/8″ hanger bolts.

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I then simply drilled a hole in the corner brackets, fed the bolt through the hole, and tightened it in place with a nut. As the nut tightened to the corner bracket, it drove the leg tight to both sides of the frame. Attaching the legs this way makes it possible to take them off and carry it out of my basement shop.

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Flipping it back over, the table was built. Super simple and super fun. I posted this picture on instagram and it has been my most liked picture, ever!

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The final picture is the table with an antique stain applied to it. I’m happy with the way it turned out and so is my wife.

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Harvest Table

A few moths ago my wife, Anita, and I picked up some old barn wood flooring in Dayton to be used for a harvest table she wanted me to build for her booth. While the wood sat in the basement, she kept looking for the right legs to use for the table. In the end, she opted for me to make some out of Douglas Fir 4×4’s I could buy from Lowe’s. She searched Pinterest for a leg she liked and printed off a picture so I could make it.

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I looked at the picture and started to turn something like it on the lathe. I kept the top of the leg similar to the picture, but changed the bottom to be a bit more simpler. After a few tweaks, I was happy with the end result. Now the challenge was to make three more legs that matched this one.

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I used a piece of scrap wood and marked every major location where there was a bead or valley in the board. I then used calipers to measure those increments and carefully tried to copy them to the next turning.

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After several minutes of careful turning, my second leg looked very similar to the first one on top. Even if the legs weren’t exactly the same, it was fine as they would be far enough away from one another that your eye wouldn’t be able to see the difference.

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If you’ve never turned Douglas Fir, I highly recommend it. It sucks..sucks bad. The crap chips like crazy even with sharp turning tools. Fortunately since the harvest table was suppose to look old, the chips wouldn’t be a big deal.

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After a couple of hours, I turned four legs that sort of looked like one another. The final step was to put them back on the lathe and use my parting tool to cut them at all the same length which was 30″ tall.

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The simplest part about building the harvest table was actually building it. I simply screwed the skirt onto the legs using 2″ screws. I didn’t even bother plugging the holes.

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I used cleats and pocket hole screws to keep the sides from bowing. I then attached the top onto the cleats using 1 1/4″ screws. Super simple.

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This was the table before sanding the grime off the boards.

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This is the table after a couple coats of white milk paint.

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As you can see, once sanded, the milk paint gives the table a nice worn look. Even though this table breaks three of the seven deadly sins of woodworking, it works for it’s intended purpose. Just don’t expect to see it in a woodworking magazine anytime soon. All that matters is that Anita is very happy with it and finally has the harvest table she has always wanted.

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Revamped Dining Room Table and Chairs

As promised, I decided to throw up some before and after pictures of the dining room table and chairs my wife and I have been working on for the past few months. As you can see, the $10 chairs Anita picked up at a thrift store weren’t that attractive, but she saw the potential in them.

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A little bit of chisel work, paint and new fabric brought them from the ’70’s into the new millennium. Anita picked out the fabric at IKEA in order to save some money so the chairs end up being super cheap.

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My farmhouse table I made twelve years ago was a massive beast, but it served it’s purpose. After replacing the top with 2×10’s and reducing the width of the table, it fit better in the room.

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In the end, the chairs and table look great with the decor of the room. I’m not sure if the Windsor chairs at the ends of the table will stay, but for now they provide extra seating for when we have company over (which is never).

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Restoring a Potting Table

I bought this table last year at a flea market for $4.00. Missing the drawer, the guy selling it considered throwing the table away as he thought it wasn’t worth much. At the last minute, he decided to bring it to the flea market and see if anyone would buy it. Well I guess I was the sucker because I whipped open my wallet and handed him four crisp one dollar bills for it.

I’m not quite sure if the table was built with the two bins in it or if it was retrofitted later on with them. In any event, I decided to keep them and see if I could bring the table back to life.

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Other than missing a drawer, the real big problem with the table was that there was a piece missing off the front near the leg where the dowel joints failed. I shaved away the roughness of the front with a rasp so that I could attach a new piece of wood to it.

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Once I carved out a new piece out of poplar, I glued everything together. I’m by no means a carver, but I was satisfied with the end result. I knew the table would eventually be painted so it wasn’t a big deal if the moldings didn’t match up perfectly.

Next I had to make a new drawer. I grabbed some more poplar and traced out the front of drawer by mirroring the shape of the back of the table. I also had to shape the contour of the front to match the curve of the front of the table. I did everything on the band saw and smoothed the wood with rasps and sandpaper.

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Back to more carving. I used my carving chisels and scooped out the front to match the curvature of the molding. I then used my Dremel and carved a 1/16″ groove down the front to match the groove of the molding. It took about an hour to do all the carving.

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Deciding how to attach the drawer front to the sides of the drawer, I opted to simply use a stopped rabbet joint and pin the sides to the front. I considered using a router bit and my router table to cut the stopped rabbets, but I figured I could cut them by hand just a s quick. I used my marking knife and scored the fibers of the wood where I wanted the rabbet to be. Then I very carefully pared away the wood with a chisel. Once I got so deep, it became easier to remove the waste without damaging the drawer front. It was very similar to chopping out the waste on the side of a tenon.

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The drawer was built using 1/2″ poplar and 1/4″ plywood for the bottom. The biggest deal with making a drawer is making sure the thing is square. Having a drawer shaped like a rhombus is just asking for trouble.

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The running stick was still in the table so I had to make a new runner for it. Whipping one up on the table saw and fastening to the table was no big deal. In order for the drawer to run properly, I used double stick tape and fastened to the runner to make sure it was in the right spot. Once the drawer fitted perfectly, I glued the runner to the bottom of the drawer.

A few hours in the shop and the new drawer fits nicely in the table.

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The table had some water damage to the top which caused the veneer to chip and break away. Making a new top for the table didn’t appeal to me, so I tried and out-of-the-box approach. I mixed up a batch of auto body filler and spread it over the top where it was missing the veneer and left it to dry.

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I did this step outside because the body filler stinks to high heaven. After the Bondo dried, I sanded the high spots with 80 and 150 grit sandpaper.

Here’s the finished table with a few coats of paint. My wife Anita painted it and sanded through the coats to give the table a worn look. I don’t think the table turned out too shabby considering I only paid $4.00 for it.

Making a Farm House Table

My wife Anita was getting ready for a design show she was doing called Over the Moon in Lawrenceburg, IN. She asked me to make a farm house table from basic 2 x 8’s I bought from Lowe’s. So I bought the wood and laid out the boards on the floor to see how big of a table she wanted. We ended up deciding on a table that was around 3′ x 5′.

When I bought the lumber, I chose boards with the straightest grain possible with very little or no knots. However, most of the boards I chose were still high in moisture content so I had to let them acclimate in my shop so they could dry out a little bit.

After milling the boards to one inch thick, I stickered them on the floor and placed a fan near them to help the boards dry out a bit. I placed weights on the top board just to prevent it from cupping. The paper towel underneath the weight is to prevent the iron of the weight staining the wood.

After about a week, the boards were down to a workable moisture content. You wouldn’t think that simply laying boards down for a week would change the moisture content that much, but it did.

Anita already bought legs at an antique show back in the fall for about $10.00. All I had to do was make the frame and top and assemble it all together. I used a 3/8″ beading molding plane to put a bead on the sides of the table to give it a bit of detail.

It doesn’t get much simpler than this. I used pocket screws to attach everything together. The idea of a farm table is keep the joinery simple.

Anita stained the top with gel stain and painted the base with chalk paint. The table was too wide to get through my basement door so I had to finish it in the living room.

I asked Anita if she wanted me to attach the boards from the bottom so the fasteners wouldn’t show. She told me no. She said “just screw down the boards and fill in the holes with plugs”. So I did just that leaving about a 1/8″ gap between the boards for expansion and contraction of the wood. After I was done, Anita sanded the top again with 220 grit sand paper and reapplied some more stain.

This is how the table looked when it was done and ready for the show. Anita applied a dark wax to the paint to highlight the details of the legs. She also waxed the top to give it some luster.

You can see some of the dark wax detail here.

Anita posted this picture of the table on her Facebook account right before the show started. One of her followers saw the picture and private messaged her asking Anita to hold the table, however Anita never saw her message. When the show opened, the young woman ran to her booth and asked if the table was still available. Anita said it was and the woman bought it right on the spot. It’s nice to know someone likes my work. haha.

Making a Shaker Table from a 2×8

Earlier this week I grabbed a 2×8 that was 8 feet long for $6.00 at Lowe’s with the intentions of making a shaker table out of it. I’ve made a lot of furniture out of Southern Yellow Pine dimensional lumber over the past couple of years. One of the best things I like about it is that it’s dirt cheap. The other is that it comes 1 1/2″ thick so when making legs, I don’t have to laminate two 3/4″ boards together exposing a glue line down the leg. The biggest downside is that the wood is very soft and easily dents however, lately I’ve been building things to look old, and a few dings and dents will only add character to the piece.

Making the legs of the table is a synch. Rip four pieces 1 1/2″ wide x 1 1/2″ thick. The next is ripping down the stock to create the carcass of the table. Because the 2 x 8 is exactly 1 1/2″ thick, getting two pieces that are 3/4″ in thickness is next to impossible. I settle for ripping it down the middle and yielding two pieces 5/8″ thick after I clean them up in the surface planer.

After I rip the stock to 5 1/2″ wide, I don’t just rip the piece all at once on the bandsaw. I set my table saw up to rip it in the middle and run a kerf on each side of the board.

Then I take it to the band saw and rip the rest of the way. This does several things. One, it saves my band saw motor as it doesn’t have to fight ripping five and a half inches of wood. Instead it only has to rip about 2 1/2″. Plus the kerf of the table saw blade creates a channel for the band saw blade to ride in so I don’t get blade drift. It’s also much faster than ripping 5 1/2″ and it also creates less dust.

Once I have my side and legs milled, I need to route the joinery to attach everything together. Using my handy-dandy Colt plunge router, I route all the mortises in the legs and sides to accept loose tenons. The process is so fast and simple I wished I would have created that Micro Fence jig ten years ago.

After the joinery was cut, I tapered the legs with my taper jig.

For the top I wanted to use 3/4″ wood as 5/8″ would be a little too thin. This is okay because I still need stock for the drawers which will be 1/2″ thick. So I simply rip the next pieces at 7/8″ on the table saw and follow-up on the band saw like I did previously.

The parts came out clean but the two pieces for the top were a little narrow. Together they were about 15″ but I needed the top be 16″ wide so I grabbed a piece of off-cut scrap and glued it in the middle.

After the top was glued, I flattened it with my 16″ surface sander and beveled the edges with a 45 degree chamfer router bit.

I needed to assemble the carcass so I dovetailed the rail on top of the drawer and loose tenoned the bottom rail to the two front legs.

The carcass fitted together nicely so I sanded the parts with 150 grit sandpaper and then glued it all together. Now I needed to work on the drawer.

The drawer sides and back are made with the 1/2″ stock. I planed a groove down each side and the back of the drawer front. I then cut them to size and routed a dado in the side to accept the back.

I cut half blind dovetails into the drawers and used my Colt plunge router to rout the majority of the waste and cleaned out the joint with chisels. Luckily I had a piece of scrap plywood for the drawer bottom lying around so I didn’t have to buy more wood. After I cut all the joinery for the drawer, I glued it all up.

As far as scrap goes, this is about it. Nearly everything from that 2×8 was used when I finished installing the drawer runners. Luckily I didn’t have any major screw ups where I would have to use more lumber because I didn’t have it.

The table came out pretty nice for $6.00. I plan on painting it (or my wife will) and give it away to my local PBS station. Next month they have an on air auction they call “Action Auction” where they auction off items from local businesses. I participated in it a couple of years ago donating this same shaker table only out of cherry. Back then, the table sold for about $135.00. It’ll be interesting to see where this one ends up. But for $6.00 and a few hours of work, it’s a good investment for getting my name on TV.

Since when do woodworkers buy furniture from other woodworkers?

I have to admit, I’d never thought that a woodworker would buy a piece of handmade furniture from another woodworker. After all we’re woodworkers, we could just easily make it ourselves. But what has happened over the past few months has changed my opinion.

It started a couple of years ago when I made four Shaker side tables out of cherry. I had plans of listing them on Etsy and turning a handsome profit. At first it seemed easy with a sale within the first week. The problem was that the person who had “bought” the table was a scammer trying to pull some over payment cashiers check trick and then have me send him the difference back. Luckily Etsy saw the scam and cancelled the transaction.

I had the tables out on Etsy for a few months with no other bites so I decided to delist them. I was them stumped as to what to do with them so I had the idea of donating one to my local PBS station’s Action Auction. The auction went well and I had my table on TV for several minutes as well as MVFlaim Furnituremaker listed on the PBS station’s website. So, the next year I decided to do it again. Even though I didn’t get any money for them, I felt good about the exposure and helping out my local PBS station with the donation.

Then last summer I got a call from one of the people who had won the auction for one of the tables. They wanted another one! So I gave them a price and went over to their house to deliver it. I met with the woman’s husband and he started talking about woodworking and took me out to his shop. I looked around in his shop in confusion. The man obviously had a nice set up. Nice enough to be able to build the table himself. Why was he buying mine? I asked him why and he told me that while he dabbles in woodworking, he doesn’t possess the skills that I have to build the table as nice as I did. I was extremely flattered by that.

Three tables down one to go. My wife decided to stick the last one in our spare bedroom and use it for a few months. It looked nice but didn’t quite match the French country decor she was going after so she listed it on Craigslist. A couple of days ago a guy called and asked if he could have it for a certain price. My wife and I agreed to the offer and told him to come pick it up. The man came to the house, introduced himself and started asking about what type of joinery I used to build the table. I couldn’t believe it. Another woodworker! Here’s another guy who would rather buy a nice handmade table than make himself. What is going on? He told me that he spends all his time at work and really doesn’t have time to build things he wants but appreciates nice furniture when he sees it. He even told me that he went down to Tennessee to Lonnie Bird’s school to take his Dovetailing class a few years ago so he definitely had a passion for woodworking.

All I know is that I learned something new today. Even though people possess the skill to build something themselves, they’ll still pay a fair price for the work of others. I didn’t get rich from the sale of the tables. In fact, I barely got my money back from the cost of the wood, but it still felt good helping out my local PBS station the past couple of years and meeting new friends.