Mark (TheCraftsmansPath.com) on December 27th, 2008

With the legs for the table complete, I set my aim toward making the top.  I did not have any stock wide enough to accommodate the top in a single piece so, I needed to glue two boards together.

In this case I used two rough boards about 6 inches wide to create the top.  I followed my normal milling process to machine the boards square and true and cut to rough length and width.  I took a good look at these boards to determine their best top sides and also which edges to glue together as the center of the table top.

Top_Glue_Up_1.JPGTop_Glue_Up_2.JPGWith Hard Maple like this, the sap wood (the wood that grew toward the outside of the tree) usually has the nicest creamy color.  So, I first tried to orient the boards with the growth rings curving downward when viewed from the ends (i.e. with the sap wood facing up).  I then tried different orientations of the boards shifting them slightly until I found the most pleasing transition of grain at the center seam.  I settled on an orientation and glued the boards together.  In the pictures you can see the steps for the glue up.  I some used Parallel Jaw clamps to apply even pressure to the boards along their edges and also some Quick-Grip clamps at the ends across the center seam to keep them as even as possible while the glue dried.

Top_Glued.JPGAfter a few hours drying I unclamped the boards and scraped the glue squeeze-out away with a sharp cabinet scraper.  After the dried drops of glue were removed I applied some mineral spirits to the top to see where I may have missed some glue – it’s a little difficult to see the glue on the creamy colored Maple.  The mineral spirits helped to highlight any remaining dried glue.  In the picture, you can see that I marked the areas with glue and any tearout from the planer with a pencil.  With that done I went at the top with my #4 smoothing plane and the cabinet scraper until I had removed all traces of glue, mill marks and tearout from the top.

Scribing_Arc_with_Trammel.JPGThe next step was to mark and cut the arches on the ends of the top.  As you can see in the picture, I made a simple trammel with a long piece of scrap, a pencil and a screw as a trammel point.  Nothing real scientific here, I just varied the location of the screw until I obtained the arc that I was looking for.  Once I had that location I simply marked the length of the top at the center line and placed the pencil point there.  Then I held the  screw point lightly against the top on the center line and swung an arc across each end of the top.  No need for any fancy tools or jigs.

Cutting_Arcs_on_the_Band_Saw_1.JPGCutting_Arcs_on_the_Band_Saw_2.JPGWith the arcs marked on the top I set up some auxillary support at the band saw. I first contemplated creating a jig similar to the trammel to cut the arcs but, after thinking about it I felt it would be easy enough to just freehand the cuts and then clean them up on the sander.  So, I went the freehand route.  No problems there. With the extra support helping to hold the top I just swung it in an arc following about 1/16 of an inch outside the lines.  Once the cuts were made I cleaned them up on the edge sander until I reached the marked lines.

Next up will be milling and mortising the arched aprons and assembling the base.

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2 Responses to “Modern Shaker Table: Making the Top”

  1. Glad to see you are staying productive over the holidays. For me, a bit too much eating and not enough sawdust. Anyhow, another great post and we’ll all be watching progress.

  2. Hey Keith,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    With a little more time than usual to spend in the shop, I’m trying to be as productive as possible. Though, I know what you mean about the danger of too much food over the holidays!

    I’m going to do my best to keep up with the progress and complete this one quickly.m Please stop by again and let me know what you think.

    –Mark

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