'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros  

'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros
                                                                   "Where woodworkers are not all Pros"
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I have a very close friend who had called me and told me that she had acquired a used table that had once been a drop leaf table.  This table was a four legged table and not a pedestal type.  The previous owner had altered the table in that they had taken the top off the base which consisted of the four legs and a skirt beneath the top and around all four edges.  They then rotated the top 90° on the base and remounted it using four supports on the under side of the top to prop up the former drop leaves.

Then they had cut the former center section of the old top into two pieces making leaves between the propped up ends.  It worked but the table looked like the Atlantic ocean when viewed across the plane of the table top surfaces.  It was kind of crude in its appearance but served the purpose. The last thing they had done was to paint all the surfaces black. 

When my friend had called me, she asked me if I would be able to rebuild the table so that it would be flatter across the top and would I be able to make the table a couple of inches taller.  The table was a couple of inches shy of being a standard table height and since her husband is fairly tall, he had struggled to sit comfortably at the table.  I told her that I would make my best attempt to fix the table and to repaint it for her.

After getting the table home to the shop, I began sanding the surfaces and to my surprise, the table was made of solid cherry wood.  The more I sanded on the surfaces, the more beautiful the wood looked.  I called my friend and asked her if she was sure she wanted to repaint the table black......you better come look at this.  After she came over to take a look, she like myself agreed that it would be really better looking to restore the table to show off the natural beauty of the cherry wood.

I then started to take the table pieces apart.  The original table had shorter legs which I assumed by looking at the bottom of the legs that there had been some sort of caps on them and which had originally made the table the proper height.  The caps were missing however and I thought that the only way to get the table back to standard height was to make new legs for it.  My friend agreed and since we decided to do that, she wanted me to get rid of the tapered leg look and make the new ones square for a more contemporary look.

Remnants from the old table after taking it apart.The photo on the right is a picture of some of the old pieces after I had disassembled the table.  Sadly, I had neglected to take more photos along the way while rebuilding this table but from the description herein, you can put your imagination to work.  The whole process was not complicated, just time consuming.

I made a trip down to my favorite wood supplier, L.R. Nisley & Sons Hardwoods near Goshen, Indiana to get some cherry wood for the new legs and for making new skirts around and beneath the table top.  As you can imagine, when a table is spread open at the top to accommodate expansion leaves, there would be a gap that shows while looking at the table from the side.  We decided to attach spring hinged skirts on the leaves at each end so that they could be pulled down when the leaves were in place.  This would conceal the new table slides that we purchased to make the table functional.  Before that, the old table was simply permanently fixtured to stay open and these gaps were ugly when the table was viewed from the side..

After making new skirt pieces for the leaves, I squared off the edges of the end sections of the top and also the leaves on my jointer.  I then marked the locations for holes and dowels to hold all the top pieces together and took them to my drill press to drill the holes.  I made the dowel pins out of 3/8" round red oak stock.  After making sure the pins and holes lined up, I turned all the pieces upside down on my assembly table to await the finishing of the legs and new skirts.

I used a 1/4 cove router bit and a v-grooved router bit on the bottom edges of the new skirts to give them a more attractive appearance and then cut them to the correct overall length to fit the newly squared up leaf and table top edges.

I used mortise and tenon joints on the legs to attach them to the new skirts and pocket holes to attach the skirts to the table top.  The leaf skirts were attached to the leaves (as I described before) with springed nylon hinges. 

When all was said and done, I gave the table a light coating of walnut gel stain to help in preventing blotching which is very typical when finishing cherry wood.  After the stain was dry, I used three coats of clear satin urethane finish, using #0000 fine steel wool between the first two coats.

The only picture I have of the finished table is one that was taken by my friend after the table was delivered to her and sitting in her dining room.  It was taken by her cell phone camera and is not the absolute best photo but does show how the project turned out.  Here is the picture below.

Finished cherry table after the rebuild process.
It is absolutely gorgeous in my opinion, and I think you can begin to get an idea of that opinion with this photo.  I am happy with the way it turned out and so is my friend

As always, any comments will be welcomed.


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