Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tabula Rasa

For some time, Stephanie's been wanting something like a coffee table for the living room to use instead of a series of tiny folding tables which get moved into and out of the room as necessary. After, at long last, looking at the design of some mid-century modern tables, I realized that building such a thing would be remarkably easy. And it was.

Table, with dog for scale.

I started with a couple of sheets of plywood (a thin birch piece for the surface, a thicker pine one for the underside). I scribed a triangle on the surface, used a couple of old paint cans to draw curves into the corners, clamped them together, and cut out the shape with the usual jig saw.

Using a little simple geometry, I found the center of the triangle constituting the lower piece, drew some lines out from there towards the corners, and put the brackets for the legs about two thirds of the way out from the center towards each corner. I used angled brackets for the legs, and cut the ends of the legs at a matching ten-degree angle. Doing the top and bottom as separate pieces conveniently allowed me to drill through the bottom piece without worrying about marring the top.

Once that was done, I glued the top and bottom parts together (clamped together for about a day), put iron-on birch trim around the edges and trimmed it back, stained it a reddish-brown (sorta mirroring the living room's largely red color scheme), and put on lots and lots of coats of polyurethane finish, occasionally sanding between coats.

Helpful scale dog provides scale.

The result is, it appears, a nicely stylish table, sized and colored to suit the room it's in, which cost maybe $75, with the manufactured legs and brackets being the most expensive components. Once I get the CNC mill going, I may experiment with smaller side tables in the same style, but with some Atomic Age inlay.