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Making a coffee table top

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  • #16
    Thanks guys. Yeah, I'm new to this whole thing, and like you said, ByteButcher, I just got back from HD and saw the preglued tabletop that was the exact size I needed. I would have bought that if I didn't come onto this forum. Being a newbie, I figure that I'll take the advice from everyone here and try to put my own top together. I figure if it doesn't come out right, it's only a few dollars wasted, and then I can go try again, or just get the premade top. However, if it comes out right, then I've learned how to do it which will not only save me money in the long run, but give me a sense of pride in building the whole thing.

    Dave, I couldn't find a doweling jib at the local HD, nor could I even find dowels where they kept them in the other HD. I'll go back and look again tomorrow, if not ask a salesperson. Thanks for the info about connecting the wood and the layout it should be in.

    Woody, does the plywood take well to routers? Like if I used a rounded bit on the router to round the plywood, would it come out smooth like normal wood? Also, since the plywood edges would be routed, there's not way to put on the banding, correct? Also, the banding around the exposed edges, is that stainable?

    The polyurethane coating, is that like stain? Our is that just a separate layer after the stain, before the laquer?

    I have a feeling I'll end up with the preglued top or the plywood, but I'd really like to try to assemble this from scratch first.

    [ 01-07-2005, 10:33 PM: Message edited by: axio ]


    • #17
      axio---no, you can't route plywood. Here you would need either to cut toung and groves in the plywood and in solid wood edges or use biscuits. And, as I said, I wouldn't advise it for a coffee table---which can get all sorts of abuse.

      From your design, it would be much easier to cut the boards to length to creat the opening for the game boards and attach plywood from the bottom of the opening. Otherwise, you'll be wasting wood when you have to cut out the center opening.

      As to a doweling jig---worst comes to worst, just checked and Amazon has them, but you could also check Rockler or Woodcraft as well.


      • #18
        Try this jig:
        At Rockler


        • #19
          I have made several tabletops using oak stair treads, including some from Home Depot. The treads are themselves the result of edge gluing, but they are quite stable. Come in 3/4 and 1" (finished dimension) and about 9 or 12" in width and up to 48" in length.

          I rip the bull-nose off with a table saw and then edge joint both edqes. Assembly is with biscuits, which help to align the boards so that there is little sanding required afterwards.

          My only problem is that I use only water-based finishes, so chasing the grain on oak is a hassle.


          • #20
            axio: If you're talking about using a roundover bit to break the edge of the plywood, the answer is no because then you have a curved surface that you can't apply the edging to.

            But, if you're willing to have the edges of the plywood exposed, yes you can roundover a plywood edge. I've done it when having the edge layers show was acceptable for the piece I was making. You might need to fill exposed voids in the inner layers before finishing. It all depends on what you want for a final appearance.

            As far as routing plywood edges for joining, there would be no need to do that if you just cut the plywood to the finished size of the entire top.

            The edging is available in various woods. It is real wood and behaves just like the other pieces for staining and finishing. Basically it's a narrow strip of veneer. The type I use comes with an adhesive on the back that melts at high temperature and then sets as it cools. A regular iron (for ironing clothes) is all you need. Checkout some catalogs or websites to see what's available, including an inexpensive tool for triming the edging to size after applying it.

            The polurethane is the finish clear coat(s). It's applied after the staining.

            Based on your questions, I'd suggest some visits to a store like Woodcraft or a local hardwood, woodworking tool and finishing supply store to get some advice and look at the materials and tools. There are also a lot of books available and a number of woodworking magazines that will be helpful in gradually learning about all this stuff. There's a lot to learn and you'll never know it all.


            • #21
              Woody---sorry, but have to strongly disagree with your continued ascetions on plywood for this project----your iron-on trim would last until the first person caught an edge on their clothes or wacked it accidently with some other object---forget it with kids. Ply has many, many applications in furniture----but for a coffee table, it's ill-advised.


              • #22
                daveferg: In my last posting I was simply responding to axio's questions, not urging him to do things one way or another - read his questions directed to me.

                Please define ascetions. I can't quite make the connection with "ascetic" as defined in the dictionary.


                • #23
                  Thought this was a woodworking forum--not a spelling bee.

                  Fully understand your answer, but we simply disagree on the use of plywood, in this application, and frankly, think your first idea about gluing on solid wood was much better than the applied iron on edging.


                  • #24
                    Hi all,

                    I agree with woody. and daveferg. I have used all 3 ways for tables. With the iron on veneer - if you cleanly trim your corners where the veneer meets and put enough coats of poly (3-4) you really shouldn't have a problem with pull away. I have one table I made for my daughter and it survived my 2 grandsons, (about seven yrs now).

                    I have also used 3/4" veneer on a knee wall shelf, used between a split level dining room and family room. I routed a piece of oak with an ogee face and ripped it down to and glued and nailed it to cover the face of the veneer.

                    And i have a cofee table of solid oak with 4' boards biscuited and joined with supports nailed glued and nailed for support to prevent either the warp and or cupping.

                    So you all have contributed to a functional approach, and axio can walk away with different ways instead of just one.

                    I don't talk on this forum much because I would just be a redundant responder, but i have a great deal of respect for the input I have seen you two post over the last few years. There hasn't been one thing you two have posted on here i have disagreed with so keep it up.

                    Happy Woodworking guys


                    • #25
                      Hi Guys,

                      Which would you buy, giving a small budget.


                      This one is better in terms of giving more degrees of cutting (90 max instead of 45 max), but costs a little more:


                      Or this doweling jig for $30


                      What would you pick?


                      • #26
                        If my choices are limited to one of htese three items, I'd have to go with the O'Malley. Looks to be better constructed than the HF plastic fence, better and easier to use lock knobs and adjustments.

                        Thier web page is a little confusing on the fence adjustments, I would want to clear up what is meant by the following;

                        - Adjustable fence cuts at fixed height of 6/16"
                        - Fixed Fence cuts at height of 6/16" to 1 1/2"

                        I think maybe they just got the descriptions swapped around, but better safe than sorry. It's also nice to be able to download and review the owners manual before you buy. I guess sellers figure it is better for you to wonder about the capabilities and maintenance procedures than for them to scare you off by making the manual available prior to purchase.

                        Anywho, for the additional couple bucks I would choose the O'Malley