Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dining Set Tutorial #7 - Cherry and Walnut Dining Table

Now for the table. Building this baby felt like a cakewalk after the hours involved in those chairs. Back in the day when I was milling up the 8/4 walnut for the chair legs, I set aside and laminated pieces for the Table legs. You can see the pattern in the middle. Each triple-laminated blank rendered two legs without waste.



 The legs have a taper on the two inside edges.  I cut those tapers close to the line on the bandsaw.


Then I planed to the line. My shop elf loves plane "curlies."


The aprons are cut from 5/4 stock.  I don't have a power miter saw in my shop. Just some big freckled biceps. 


My guns were tired, so I milled the tenons with a dado blade.


Tweaking the shoulders with a shoulder plane. These babies need to be dead-90, or you'll have wonky table legs.


Dry fit and check it out. This table well have a leaf, and we'll get to that. I'll cut the actual side piece for the leaf. That way the grain will match.


More two-tone. The chairs have cherry backs, the table with have a cherry top. No need for stains, just use the natural tones of American hardwoods.

Also, I'm not a fan of 4/4 stock for tabletops such as this. 3/4" is just too thin to my eye.


So I hunted down some 5/4 cherry and took just enough off each face for a good surface.


 Keeping the leaf and table dimensions in mind, I laid out the grain to be the most pleasing to the eye.  In the end this tabletop will be 48x48", with a 16" leaf.


Edge gluing time. You want these edge to be dead-90.


A pic of the glue up. As you can see, I did use cauls, and checked flatness at every step. Otherwise flattening these can be brutal.

One the biggest pains about making a table leaf is the alignment pins. I made some pins out of 1/4 brass rod, and made a little jig to drill and line them up. When I get a Festool Domino someday, I may that bugger for this step. This method works, but it is fussy. Whatever you do, don't finish flattening the top, or trimming the edges of you glue up until these pins are in! 

Marking where the alignment pins will go with a knife. 

Drilling with a depth stop.

Picture of duh leaf alignment pins.


 I suppose they want the darn table to be flat. Pffft.


With the top assembly all together I cut the ends with my po' boy track saw.  Buy a nice blade!


With the final leaf size determined, I hacked up my side rails and starting gluing, and pining.


I pegged each tenon with a 3/8" walnut dowel. Why? Because it looks cool (and it's muy strong)


The leaf mechanism from Osborne Wood Products requires some little bracket to stabilize the apron. I made these from walnut cutoffs.


If you want to learn more about these slides and their install, I'll cut right to the Osborne video:


I have no beefs with those slides, and I will use them again.



To begin finishing, I applied some thinned Zinsser Sealcoat (dewaxed shellac) on the cherry. This keeps the cherry from blotching.


Then I sprayed the entire set with several coats of satin oil-based polyurethane.  Yes, the slow dry time is annoying, but poly is still my finish of choice for durability on pieces such as this.


I sand with 400 grit in between each coat. When I arrive at a coat that is fairly dust-nib free, I let the poly cure for a week or two.


Last I bust out some Howard's Feed n' wax and work the piece over with a really fine sanding pad. A silky satin finish is the result.



Shoot dang, that only took a year! Ha! It never would have take that long if I wouldn't have moved my family and shop mid-build. Oh well.

Soon I will be delivering this set to my Aunt and Uncle in Colorado.  I hope they enjoy it. It was fun making it for them. I'm sure this dining set will stay in the family for some time.

This blog was partly to show my family how I made it, and partly to inspire other woodworkers.  No, a dining set is not an undertaking for novices, but I hope more intermediates realize it is a doable undertaking. Setting your mind to it is the hard part. As Chris Schwarz said in his blog:


"During a class in Texas, one of the students recounted how he made his workbench entirely by hand, including ripping 8’ planks for days and days to make the top lamination. One of the other students was simply amazed and asked him: “How did you do that?”

The student answered: “I just decided to commit to it. Once I committed, it was easy.'"


That's what it takes.  Here's a few finished pictures in my home.  The lighting is tough, but I'll take more when I get a chance.







Take Care ya'll
Dan Westfall 
May 29, 2016




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