'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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End Table Project Logo
One of the first things that my wife and I decided to do after completing the redecorating of our former living room (converted to a dining room and sitting area) was to purchase a couple of sitting chairs.  Funny thing.... we now needed an end table for placing next to the reading chair.

This article is all about the process of building a mission styled end table to use in that location. We had made wise choices concerning investments and low life insurance quotes so we could definitely afford to buy a new table. However instead of simply purchasing something from a shop, I wanted to make it hands on.I decided to build one myself. I began by making rough drawings of the height, width and length of the table and converting the rough sketches to working drawings on Autocad. Being very familiar with this software from having used it for the last several years during my working life as a tool design engineer, I had no problem doing this. Autocad lets me determine exactly what the dimensions will need to be and more importantly, lets me see if there are any measurment conflicts BEFORE cutting the pieces. 

End table legs pieces showing tapers and mortises. I decided to use hard maple for stock primarily because I had a good amount of this wood left over from my building my workbench.  I started with the legs which I cut to 1 3/4" square and then made a quick tapering jig to cut the small tapers at the ends of the legs.  You can see these tapers in the four legs in the photo on the right.

Rough cut mortises in legs prior to cleaning them up with chisels.On the left is a picture of the rough cut mortises immediately after I removed them from the drill press.  I don't have a mortising machine and decided to make the rough cuts with a 1/4" forstner bit with the press set to a depth of 3/4".  This procedure saved a lot of time by allowing me to finish shaping the openings with my trusty chisels. (Sorry about the quality of the picture.... I should have turned off the flash).

After finishing the legs, I moved on to cutting the pieces for the top.  I cut, jointed, glued and clamped six pieces together that made up the overall width and length of the top minus the 1/4" thick edges that I made and eventualy would glue to this top. 

Next, I cut the remaining parts and laid them on the side table of my saw to make sure everything had been cut.  You can see all of this in the photo below and that at this point the tenons had not been cut on the cross pieces but that the top had been jointed, glued and clamped.

Cut pieces of end table laid out on saw side table.
Clamped up top with edging glued in place.The next thing along the process was to put 1/4" thick edging around the perimeter of the top to give it a more dressed out look.  I cut the edging pices to a rough dimension slightly thicker than the 1/4" finished thickness and planed them down to the final 1/4" on my Dewalt Model 734 planer.  The photo on the left shows the top with the edging being clamped into place after the glue up process.

Top cross pieces showing dado cut tenons.
After laying out the cut pieces and determining that all of them were cut to the correct dimensions, I began cutting the tenons on the top, middle and bottom side, rear and fron cross pieces.  I used my table saw and dado blade set to cut them to the correct sizes for fitting to the mortises.  As most woodworkers know if they have been doing these types of things for a while, this method allows you to "ease up" on the tenons dimentionally assuring a good tight fit.  The photo on the right shows some of the top cross pieces after the tenons were cut and prior to assembly into the legs.

I began assembling the cross pieces into the legs by first building up the sides gluing them and clamping them along the way.  After these assembled sides were dry and unclamped, I began inserting the rear and front pieces to the finished sides.  Various stages of this process can be seen in the three photos below.  Note that I decided to make a small drawer in the top section and cut and assembled a frame for the drawer opening.

This view shows the clamped up top sides with the all of the bottom rails in place.
Clamped up sides and bottom rails.
View showing rear cross pieces being clamped into place.
Clamped up sides and rear members.
View showing the table after all four sides have been assembled and prior to installing both the drawer and the bottom slats.This photo shows all four sides after being clamped together.

The next step in this whole process was to install the slats that makes up the bottom shelf.  The slats were made with a 1/8" bevel on the top side edges of each piece except for the two pieces that were going to be placed next to the side rails that contains them.  On these two pieces, the bevel was only routed on the sides that would be adjoining the inner slats.  The below photo gives you a view of what the table looked like at that point and prior to the installation of the top.

Glued up table with the bottom shelf slats in place.
Finished assembled drawer showing through dovetails.Next came the drawer.  I used my Porter Cable Model 4212 Dovetail jig to make through dovetail joinery after cutting the drawer pieces.  The view here on the left shows the completed drawer after fitting the drawer bottom into the final assembly and after removing most of the clamps.

Before installing the completed drawer, I mounted the top to the framework and stained the completed unit with a dark walnut stain.  Boy was this a problem!!  Being fairly new at this whole woodworking thing, I never experienced trying to stain hard maple with anything other than a natural or clear top coat before.  I applied at least four coats of stain and after wiping off the excess each time, I still ended up with a look that was much lighter than I had expected.  I eventually ended up just putting some of the staind (it wasn't gel stain) into my spray gun and kind of just stood back on "fogged" on the stain.  I let it air dry for about six days until the stain was completly dried and then sprayed on four coats of clear water-based urethane, sanding with 400 grit sandpaper before the last two coats.  The result was pretty close to what I had wanted to get.  The pictures below show a couple of views after the stain had been applied and after the drawer slides had been installed.
 This view shows the table in an inverted position so that I could mount the top using corner braces for the mounting.
Inverted table after staining prior to mounting the corner braces.
This is a view of the table after intalling the top with the corner braces. 
Stained table prior to mounting the drawer.

Upright stained table with drawer installed.

After the point in time shown in the right photo above, and after the completed drawer was dried and unclamped, I installed it into the table using the previously installed 16" full extension drawer slides.  The photo here on the right shows the table after the drawer had been installed into the frame and before the drawer front was attached.

Well, here's the final product!  Not to sound too egotistical but I think it looks pretty nice setting next to my brand new reading chair.  Hope you get as much enjoyment reading about this project as I had making it.  As always, your comments whether negative or positive are always welcome.


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