My new project is the building of a table set consisting of a coffee and 1-2 side tables for the living room. I have been toying with the idea of creating a round table for a while and I think this would be a great project to try to undertake. (I have already begun this project as of the creation of the blog so it will not be in realtime, this time). Sitting studying in the library, I had a moment of inspiration and quickly drew out my idea that had been churning silently in my head for a while. What if I made a round table that had basically no straight edges at all? It would be quite the design and execution challenge, of which I am always up for. I also thought a veneer top would look great. I’ve had previous veneer experience with my speakers but that was hammer veneering and over a small area at a time and without complicated matching. I’ll come back to this later. Now for the draft. I drew this in a few minutes while sitting in the library with my friend. I cannot seem to locate the original drawing but it wasn’t very good and not very important beyond selling the wife on the idea. She approved it, BTW.
As always, the first challenge is figuring out the design of everything including every part of your piece, how it connects, what joinery can and should be used, what parts hold weight, how the design will or won’t be stable, the dimensions, etc. After I figured all that out I typically draw an architectural drawing either in a CAD program or using gridded paper and an architect’s ruler. This part is essential for figuring out how to best cut pieces to minimize waste and also to know what materials to purchase. I decided to use the CAD program for this and came up with the following.
Having done the drafting in a CAD program, it made it easier to measure the approximate sizes of all the pieces of material I would need. The rough dimensions were decided to be 40 in in diameter and 18 in high.
My wife and I then began looking at the aesthetic requirements of this table. We knew we wanted a starburst veneer for the top. I also wanted to break up the linearity of the starburst pattern by use of a center circle in the veneer design. This center circle would be made from a veneer without regular lines in it. We also wanted the table to be dark in color naturally. After much searching and looking at examples online, we came across rosewood and walnut burl veneers. Rosewood has very distinct lines through the grain and walnut burl is dark and has almost no discernable grain pattern. For the legs, I though a strong linear 3-D looking wood would be a terrific accent. I found tigerwood has a linear wave and flow like characteristic longitudinally and is also relatively dark. Pictured below are the veneers I will be using for this project.
With any veneer project using real wood veneers, you must have a backer or risk the deformation of your surface by an unbalanced stress. I will be using the cheapest veener I can find since it will not be visible unless you are searching for it.
For the apron, I plan to use solid walnut to make it more durable to damage since veneers on edges are extraordinarily vulnerable to damage. I will be resawing and laminating the walnut to bend along the edge of the table.
The legs present a difficult challenge. As you notice from the design, there is curvature in all three planes. They are bent to 6″ and 10″ radius curves and angled 30 degrees from vertical. For this reason, it will be a challenge to figure out how to make wood move this way. Typical curves are only in 1 dimension although some designs might make use of multiple bends to achieve multi-planar curves. This will not be possible with this design so I think molding laminates to a 3D mold that accounts for 2 dimensions will make this 3 dimensional curve possible. I plan to use 1/8″ bendable plywood for this task to save me time and effort required to resaw lumber to strips thin enough to get the 6″ radius of the top curve.