Dining Table

I built this dining table during 1998 and 1999.

The table is supposed to look sort of like a large tavern table or a "harvest table". It is similar in design to various reproduction tables sold by Eldred Wheeler and other builders of reproduction furniture.

The base of the table is made of cherry. The wood was purchased at Forest Products Incorporated in Greenfield. The legs were turned in November and December, 1998. The rest of the base was constructed and assembled during December, 1998 and January, 1999.

The final glue-up of the base took place during the winter of 1999. After I got all the pieces dry-fitted, I asked Lois to come down to assist in the final assembly. When she came down to the workshop, our dog Pippin came, too. I spread glue on all the joints and began fitting them together. Lois was helping to hold things tight while I struggled to clamp the joints. Just then we noticed that Pippin was having convulsions on the cellar floor. We immediately dropped the table and started to try to deal with Pippin. We wrapped Pippin in some blankets and took her upstairs. After a while she began to regain consciousness and seemed fundamentally OK, though utterly dazed. I then returned to the semi-glued table. This may help to explain why the table is not exactly square. (We speculate that Pippin caught a mouse that had eaten some DeCon. She has not had another convulsion since that occasion.)

I subsequently stained the base and then painted over the stain, leaving some wood showing through. The aim was to make it appear that the paint had been on the table for a long time, and was showing its age.

The top of the table is made of tiger maple, also purchased at Forest Products. A friend had promised to plane the boards for me, but he was cruising in the Caribbean during the winter, so the project was on hold for quite a few weeks. When he returned, he tried to plane the boards. Unfortunately, his blades were not sharp enough for tiger maple. There was quite a bit of tearout. He stopped. He hoped to get his blades sharpened, so the boards were left in his cellar. While removing the blades from the plane, he broke several setscrews, which had rusted tight. Several more weeks passed while he tried to repair his plane, but parts were hard to locate.

In March I finally gave up and got the boards back. I had them planed by Leon Andrews in Bernardston. Although he had a tremendously powerful and fairly sharp plane, there was still some tearout. That's why there is some wood filler on the tabletop.

I completed the construction of the top after purchasing a bisquit joiner. Another friend gave me a bunch of pipe clamps for clamping. I used these together with four pipe clamps of my own that I had just purchased.

All materials for finishing the table-top were purchased from Liberon in California. The wood was first dyed with water-soluble aniline dye, then stained. Then three coats of Rock Hard Varnish were applied. Finally, the super high-gloss surface was dulled with pumice and mineral oil.

The top was not firmly attached to the base. It was just resting there. In July of 1999 I noticed that the top was curling up. Moisture was evidently entering the bottom surface of the table- top. I had neglected to seal that surface. After the humidity went back down, the top returned to something like its original fairly flat shape. I then put one coat of polyurethane on the bottom surface of the table-top to seal out the moisture. Next I constructed the bits that hold the tabletop to the base. I did not tighten them down all the way, since I feared that something might break. In fact, the top has remained relatively flat since then.



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