Now I can cross one more item off of the honey-do list. This coffee table has been a long-time coming. I’ve been bouncing ideas off of my wife for some time now as to how we wanted this designed. In fact, this table is actually probably the first piece I’ve made where she has had such a heavy influence on the design.
We decided to go with a Herringbone pattern to add a little bit of visual interest, and we wanted different colored slats to lend some added dimension. The rest of the table is a very traditional design, with the legs attached to the apron with mortise and tenon, and the table top made with tongue-and-groove frame-and-panel joinery.
The table is entirely made out of red oak, with the exception of the plywood used for the panels. The stains used is the Minwax water-based wood stain, tinted for Onyx, Coffee and Whitewash. For the top coat, I used Minwax Polycrylic, with a Satin finish.
In the interest of brevity, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking here. I will add some notes as to how I got to certain points. However, if you have any questions, or would like some more details, please leave a comment below.
Additionally, if you like the design, and would like to commission a similar piece, please email me at email@example.com.
I will spare you the details of milling the wood down to size. I made it easy on myself and bought wood that was already surfaced on 4 sides (S4S), so I need only worry about ripping and cutting my boards to length.
The legs are joined to the aprons with traditional mortise and tenon joinery. To cut the tenons, I used a dado stack in my table saw, set up for its widest kirf, and then used my miter gauge to cut the shoulders, and remove the material. I then later cleaned it up with a chisel.
To cut the corresponding mortises, I carved out a bulk of the material using my drill press, with a drill-bit slightly smaller than the desired width of the mortise. I then pared down the sides and cleaned the rest of the material out with a chisel.
Next part of the project was to work on the table top. As stated, the design is a frame-and-panel, with the herringbone pieces inset in to the panels. The pieces are joined with tongue-and-groove cuts.
The panels are pieces of 0.25″ plywood, cut at 11″ square. The tongues are cut to the same thickness using the table saw with a dado-stack installed. I affixed a sacrificial fence to my table-saw fence, and raised the blade through the sacrificial piece. I was then able to dial-in how far the blade protruded from the fence, and, using the miter gauge, was able to batch out the tongues very quickly and accurately.
For the grooves, I again used my table saw with a dado stack. I dialed in the dado to match precisely the thickness of the panels/tongues. I then dialed in the position of my fence to match the position of the tongue on the frame pieces. This method proved very accurate and repeatable. When dry-fitting the pieces after they were all cut, I had to make very few adjustments to the cuts.
The most time consuming part of this project was the herringbone panels. The thought here is to secure the herringbone pattern on to new pieces of plywood, which would then be glued to the panels already inset in the table-top frame. This was an easier and more manageable way to work on these panels.
I resawed the oak to be the same thickness as the distance between the top of the plywood panel, and the top of the frames, minus the thickness of the plywood. This would leave the table flush across the surface.
Once they were resawed, cut and sanded, I stained them all individually. I then attached them to the plywood panels with both wood glue and CA glue. The CA glue allowed me to get an instant bond while the wood glue cured. I assembled the pieces so they would overhang the panels, and then went back later to trim them back.
Before attaching the individual panels to the table top, I had to glue-up and stain the base and the top. It was then just a matter of dropping the panels in to place, and securing it with wood glue.
To attach the table top to the base, I used the Rockler Table Top Fasteners. With this design, I don’t anticipate there to be much wood movement in the top. However, this method will allow me to break the table down later, if I need to do repairs or refinishing.
All said and done, the table turned out great. The only thing I would do differently is I would spend more time milling up the wood for the herringbone slats to make sure they are all the same thickness. There is probably an 1/8″ difference between the thinnest slats and the thickest, which means there are few uneven spots. Let me know what you think in the comments!