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For the most part, I don’t like building with construction-grade lumber – let’s just get that out in the open. But, it is satisfying to take wood that would otherwise be thrown out and turn it into beautiful furniture.
A local business asked me to build a table for their break room similar to a style they found available for sale. Their machinery had been shipped on large skids made of 6×4 boards. The most unstable part of the tree, the center or ‘pith’, is used for things like shipping skids, so it can be extremely difficult to build with.
Note: Check out my video explaining the different types of lumber and how to choose the wood you build with.
I start by re-sawing the skids on the bandsaw.
The boards get jointed and planed until they are flat and square and about 1 1/2” thick. I glued up the top ‘blank’ in two pieces and then glued those two pieces together. It can be a pain to keep wet, construction lumber flat and this project was no exception. I alternated the clamps on top and bottom and used long cauls to help keep even pressure across the table.
I made a simple router jig that cuts perfect circles. Check out that video for details!
The feet are joined with a half lap in the center of each board. Measure the center along the length of what will be the bottom and then the center along the width of the top board. Line those marks up perpendicularly and draw lines on the bottom board indicating the width of the top board. Now you have the basic outline of the dado.
Once you cut the dado on the bottom board, place the top board in it and mark the outline of that board. Now, you have the basic outline for the other dado. You can see more on how this is done in the video for this project up above.
Cut the dado just short of the line and then finish it with a mallet and chisel. The first dado you cut can be right up to the line but sneak up on the second one to get a good fit.
Mark the mortises on each leg on either side of the half lap. Use a forstner bit to remove most of the waste in the mortise.
To get clean edges use a chisel to cut cleanly to the line.
Cut the legs to length according to whether you want to build a standard or bar height table. Cut a 10 degree angle at each end of the leg. Set a miter gauge to a 10 degree angle and cut out tenons on the bottom of each leg. Flip the leg over and set the gauge to 10 degrees the opposite way and make a pass.
Use a square to draw a line 3/8” from each edge and cut out the remaining two sides with a hand saw. Keep the saw slightly tilted to follow the 10 degree line.
Now is the time to sculpt the legs as desired. I put a chamfer along the edges and ends, but you could also sculpt something more ornate or simply and slightly round over the edges.
At the bandsaw, remove a portion of the bottom of each foot.
The cross-supports tie the legs together and add structural support. Cut the half lap joint and tenons in the same way as the legs and feet.
The top, inside of the legs get a mortise, to join with the cross-support tenons (FIG 18). I sand the bandsaw cuts just made and break the edges. If there are any cracks, knots, or holes, they need to be stabilized to prevent further checks and shakes.
I chose to stain everything before glue-up to make it easier. Every side of every piece needs to be sealed to prevent uneven contraction and expansion. Wood stain is a great wood sealer, so I don’t need to also add clear coat to every side.
Glue-up each joint thoroughly on each board. Coat both the mortise and tenon in glue. I drive a screw into the bottom of each leg to add some mechanical strength and hold the joint together (FIG 24).
I coat the base in three coats of oil-based polyurethane and the top gets six coats.
To allow for wood movement add figure eight fasteners inline with the grain. As the wood expands and contracts, side-to-side, the fasteners will swivel to allow that movement.
The top is positioned so that the middle plank is placed along one of the base supports. All the planks are now parallel with that middle support. Screws are driven up through that support into the table. Since the top will expand from the center, the middle can be secured with screws.
Drive screws to fasten the figure eight fasteners (FIG 28).
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