As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
This includes Measured Drawings as well as Sketchup files for BOTH styles of table discussed on this web page and also a worksheet you can use to help you resize the table design to your own preferred size of table. Read More... »
The tabletop from that salvage had already been used a few months ago to build a Media Stand in our TV room.
It could not be a large table -- our smallish kitchen meant that it could only be about 60" long. But I would make up for that by making it a bit extra wide, at 42". I already had a bunch of ash in my garage just waiting for the right project.
In Sketchup I quickly drew up the legs that I had, added in some long and short aprons, and very quickly had a basic design from which to work from.
In the video I referred to it as green. In truth, I'm not sure how fresh-sawn it was. However, I do know that it was NOT kiln dried, which is why I call it green. Air drying takes roughly one year per inch of thickness, so this had been a long-term investment. The boards had sat up in my garage ever since.
I left the boards stacked and stickered in my shop to acclimatize. (stickered means there is a small air gap between each board -- the small boards used to provide the gap are called stickers.)
At this point I skip-planed the boards (which is to say I planed them lightly, but not to final thickness) and edge-jointed them and did a preliminary layout of the boards.
And in the interests of full honesty, I discovered that I did not have quite enough of my air-dried lumber, so I had to run out to a local lumber dealer and picked up a few more kiln-dried boards of 5/4 ash.
This is procedure discussed a lot more in a recent web page + video: Design and Building of a Craft Table Top
(To sum up -- quite good, but not perfect. See the section at the bottom with the router.)
I would NOT recommend trying to glue it all up at once. I glue two or three boards together, clamp them up and set them aside, and then glue another two or three together, and so on. (The dowels slow you down. I you were just using glue, and maybe some cauls, then that would be a different situation.)
The tabletop itself was basically built, and I was looking ahead to working on the leg and apron assembly. After discussing things with my wife, and looking at the different tables in our house, we realized that we had a problem. As you can see in this drawing, my design had 25-1/4" of legroom under the apron. This is pretty standard for tables like this. General table building guidelines agree that you need at least 25" clearance.
However, we are a pretty tall family. As well, we are used to a sort of pedestal table, which had closer to 28" of clearance along the edges. This gives plenty of room to cross your legs and enjoy your time at the table.
This design was not going to work.
The basic idea involved taking the long aprons -- the ones along the long side of the table -- and pushing them in by about 5". This would give us 10" of open space along the long side of the table. Lots of leg room. It also gives the table top a bit of a "floating" appearance.
The end apron would need to be a bit taller, and thicker, to handle the load, since the long apron now connects to the short apron, rather than to the leg. A shallow arch in the apron adds a pleasing curve, and helps lighten the look of that heavier board.
(A big thanks to Dave Richards, Sketchup guru who writes for finewoodworking.com among other things, who consulted with me as I considered various redesigns. He proposed the basic idea here, which I refined into something that we liked.)
The final step in building the top was to clamp a straight edge near the sides and use a flush cutting bit in my router to trim the ends flush. The top was nearly perfect, but by using a flushcutting bit you can make sure it totally flat and a nice clean single edge.
(The word "final" there is not quite correct. There still is a lot of sanding ahead, and later in the table-building process I will be rounding over the edges of the table with a roundover bit in the router.)
Thanks for reading!
TO READ PART TWO, PLEASE click here!