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"Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

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"Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby RogerM » 03 Jan 2018, 16:15

I've been wanting to build a circular table for our kitchen breakfast area for some time in a sunburst pattern in two contrasting veneers. I had no idea whether this was going to be within my capabilities, or even which types of wood to use. The finished table will be about 140cms in diameter, so I decided that I would build some smaller test pieces 1/4 size i.e 35cm diameter, and try different ideas for contrasting timber species. In the end I settled on American Cherry and Maple, Birds-eye Maple and American Black Walnut, and finally Maple and Bubinga. As an added challenge I decided to cut my own veneers (which I have done before) and separate the two veneers with a maple and ebony string inlay.

As this was intended to be a learning exercise rather than building a finished project, photos are a bit sparse, particularly in the early stages.

I have used a 40cm x 40cm square of 18mm ply as my base material. I cut all the veneers to just under 3mm to get the best use of the wood, and then "thicknessed" them down to 2mm using my drum sander. This was all done in one batch to ensure consistency in veneer thickness. I cut a pie shaped template with a centre angle of 30 deg+ and cut the individual elements of the central sunburst from the template using a veneer saw. Then the sides were shot using my trusty Steve Maskery veneer shooting board.

The sunburst is made of 12 pieces of pie, and I suspect that the full size version will be either 16, 20 or even 24 pieces, depending on the stock I can get hold of. Alternate pieces of veneer were reversed to obtain book matches, and these were glued together in pairs. When dry, I would re-shoot the edges as necessary to get the tips coinciding as accurately as possible. Then additional pieces of pie were glued together so that I ended up eventually with 2 semicircles of veneer. My template had been deliberately cut slightly wide angled - i.e around 30.5 deg, so that when I had glued 6 pieces of veneer together they came to slightly more than a semi circle - i.e. about 183 degrees. Then I placed each semi-circle in the veneer shooting board and shot the long edge straight before glueing the 2 sides of the semi circle together to complete the top.

These were then glued to the substrate using TB1 and a vacuum bag. The first photo is jumping ahead a bit, but shows the central sunburst and the surround.

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The veneer was trimmed circular after gluing using a trim router and a home made trammel, rotating around a block attached to the centre of the table using double sided carpet tape. Once in place, this will stay put until all circular cuts of the table have been completed. Once the inner sunburst has been trimmed circular, the radius of the trammel is reduced by the thickness of the cutter so that the outer edge of the cutter coincides with the edge of the veneer. Then the trammel is attached to a piece of 9mm mdf and a template of the edge is made. I cut 2 of these so that I can sandwich veneer between them and cut the curve on the router table using a bearing guided cutter.

The outer veneers are put in place one at a time and the edges trimmed along the radius using a spare plane blade along the radius. Then these are glued in place 2 or 3 at a time using the cutting jig as a caul. This is the stage I've reached in this photo.

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Next thing to do is cut the slot for the inlay. I use a 3mm down spiral cutter in the router and adjust the trammel radius so that the cutter is over the join for the entire circumference. As the pivot point for the trammel has not been moved, this is simple stuff. I then cut a groove about 5mm deep. Here is the American Cherry and Maple table with the inlay groove cut and showing the trammel base securely taped to the centre. I have made several of these so that I can attach the trammel to any workpiece I want without disturbing the set up.

Having tried a Trend straight 2 flute cutter, a Wealden spiral cutter leaves a much cleaner finish.

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I don't fit the inlay yet as I want to leave a smooth surface for the next 2 router cuts. Next task is to cut the final table to size using the trammel. Here you can see on the Maple and Bubinga table how I have first cut a groove down to a depth of about 8mm with a small cutter, then reset the trammel about 10mm further out and cut 16mm into the 18mm ply with an 18mm cutter. I then complete the cut on the bandsaw and use the edge of the first cut as a reference face to complete the operation with a bearing guided cutter on the router table.

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Now, how am I going to finish the edges? My first idea was to veneer the edges and then have a circular inlay where the edge meets the table top. Here is a photo of how it looked on the Maple and Black Walnut table before I kicked that idea into touch.

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The veneering was quite easy, but attaching a string to the edge on a fairly tight radius was a nightmare. I ended up taking it back down with a block plane and trimming the edge veneer off using the router and trammel. Fortunately I hadn't moved the central pivot block so that was fairly painless.

Next idea was to attach a strip around the edge for the full thickness of the table, having first steamed it. I was using kiln dried maple and it was a b***** to bend even after 30 mins in the steamer. I think this idea would work on a full size table where the bend is less acute, but not on a smaller one. Maybe cut the edges out of the solid?

I reset the trammel so that the outer edge of the cutter coincided with the edge of the table. I then used this to cut segments from a solid piece of wood of the same species as the central sunburst of each table. With each table being 20mm thick (18mm ply + 2mm veneer) I made the edge pieces 22mm deep to allow for the upper and lower edges to be rounded over and leave a 2mm flat. Although the outer radius will be greater than the inner one, no attempt was made to allow for this as that'll all be sorted when the finished table is trimmed circular. Here are some of the edge pieces being cut in Maple. I think it's a 12mm cutter. I've cut 3/4 of the way through with the router and then finished the cut on the bandsaw and trimmed the excess off with a bearing guided cutter on the router table.

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I complete the circle with 5 pieces, glueing on 2 at a time. Next job is to remove any overhang of the edges on the underside of the table using a block plane, finally finishing off with a card scraper. The same was done for the top, just leaving the last fraction of 1mm to be taken off in the drum sander later.
At this stage it was time to insert the stringing. This was simply a thin strip of ebony, glued back to back with a similar strip of Maple ( I didn't have any holly), each about 2mm thick, and then when dry, running it through the drum sander, with alternate sides presented to the drum with each pass, to ensure that the 2 contrasting woods stayed the same thickness until it was thin enough to be a tight fit in the previously routed 3mm groove.

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Then I cut it into 6mm wide strips and glued it into the groove previously routed, leaving it about 1mm proud of the surface. This was taken down initially with the block plane until it was nearly, but not quite, flush with the surface.

Attach the router for the last time and set the trammel so that the inside edge of the cutter tracks in the right place inside all the joints in the edging pieces, using a largish cutter. Cut half way through, remove the centre pivot and finish off with the bandsaw and a bearing guided cutter on the router table. Round the edge over with a round over bit on the router table. To finish, I ran the whole table through the drum sander with 160 grit abranet, and then went up through the grades with the random orbital sander.

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At this point SWMBO observed that they would make useful side tables for the lounge as we had guests staying over Xmas and we didn't have enough. With only a day to spare I added some pedestals which are absolutely hideous, but there was no time to design anything more elegant. Sometime I'll design something a little more delicate and finish the job. If I had known we were going to use them this way I'd have added a balancing veneer to the underside as well. The finish is 4 coats of Rustins Plastic Coating applied with a foam mini roller, cut back with 0000 grade steel wool and polished with Chestnut Oils Microcrystalline Wax to give a deep satin finish which will hopefully be bomb proof. Here are the 3 finished tables, Cherry and Maple on the left, Maple and Bubinga at the back, and Birds Eye Maple and American Black Walnut on the right.

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Cherry and Maple

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Birds Eye Maple and American Black Walnut

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Maple and Bubinga

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[ attachment=1]DSC04949.JPG[/attachment]

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that the ebony string on the B/E Maple and ABW table appears to be wider than on the others. That is because it is. That was the first one I made, and the ebony is 2.5mm thick, which with 2.5mm of maple fits in a 5mm groove. I judged this to be too heavy, and the other 2 tables have a 1.5mm pair of strings to fit in a 3mm groove which I think looks better.

Overall, I'm sufficiently encouraged to attempt a larger version. At the moment the cherry and maple is our favourite, but we also love the birdseye maple on the one with the American Black Walnut outer, so will probably use that as an outer with a cherry inner. To whet your appetite, I have a gorgeous piece of birdseye maple to cut into veneers that I picked up from the back of the stack at Yandles.

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I will do a full WIP but that won't start for a few weeks yet. We're off to Tenerife for 2 weeks on Sunday and when we get back SWMBO wants our bedroom decorated. I've already done it once 26 years ago, but apparently I have to do it again whether it needs it or not!
Last edited by RogerM on 03 Jan 2018, 19:43, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby Rod » 03 Jan 2018, 17:02

Very nice work, what are you going to do to “improve” the pedestals?

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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby Phil » 03 Jan 2018, 17:32

Rod wrote:Very nice work,
Rod


:text-+1:


Rod wrote:what are you going to do to “improve” the pedestals?
Rod


Some C shapes joined in the middle with a nice chunck of one of the colours in the top.
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby chataigner » 03 Jan 2018, 17:51

Very nice work
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby Woodbloke » 03 Jan 2018, 18:04

Very nice, I'd keep the bases as they are :lol: :mrgreen: - Rob
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby 9fingers » 03 Jan 2018, 18:25

Very Nice work and write up Roger.

I've rotated a couple of your photos and hope you approve but just in case I've left the originals in too so you can delete whichever you don't want to keep.

Hope that is OK
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby RogerM » 03 Jan 2018, 18:50

9fingers wrote:Very Nice work and write up Roger.

I've rotated a couple of your photos and hope you approve but just in case I've left the originals in too so you can delete whichever you don't want to keep.

Hope that is OK
Bob

Thanks Bob. Somehow I've now deleted one of your corrected ones and they've both been added to the bottom of the post!!! Can you please re-insert the one I deleted, which is the maple and bubinga table, and then delete the sideways ones at the bottom? Thanks - I'm losing the will to live here :lol:
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby Mike G » 03 Jan 2018, 19:47

That maple & bubinga table top is beautiful. In fact, they all are, but I prefer that one.
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby Malc2098 » 03 Jan 2018, 20:40

Lovely, lovely work.

BTW I love the little Makita. I've got the same kit in the picnic bag!
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby Andyp » 03 Jan 2018, 20:42

Wow. That is quite some effort just to find out what works but well worth it. The cherry and maple does it for me too, the contrast between the ebony stringing and the light colours that does it.
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby Woodbloke » 03 Jan 2018, 21:03

Dunno which one I like the best...they're all great! - Rob
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby RogerM » 04 Jan 2018, 00:18

Thanks for all the kind comments guys.

Rod wrote:Very nice work, what are you going to do to “improve” the pedestals? Rod


Most small round tables have a tripod arrangement of legs at the bottom of a thin pedestal, so I may do that. Or alternatively laminate up something sinuous from the same contrasting woods that I used for the table top, perhaps along the line suggested by Phil.

Woodbloke wrote:Very nice, I'd keep the bases as they are :lol: :mrgreen: - Rob


I'll bequeath them to you Rob once I've built the replacements! You have to undertake to keep them away from your bandsaw though. :lol:

Mike G wrote:That maple & bubinga table top is beautiful. In fact, they all are, but I prefer that one.


Different versions take my fancy at different times Mike. I think I could live with the Bubinga one very happily, but it may possibly be a little too red when replicated in a 1.4m diameter table. Cherry and birds eye maple is always a safe combo, and there is the added advantage that cherry is easy to obtain, and I have enough birds eye maple in my prized plank to cut veneers for a surround, but not a central sunburst.

Malc2098 wrote:Lovely, lovely work.

BTW I love the little Makita. I've got the same kit in the picnic bag!


Thanks Malc. Yes, that little Makita is a lovely piece of kit isn't it. So versatile and the soft start is fantastic when doing fine detailed work.

Andyp wrote:Wow. That is quite some effort just to find out what works but well worth it. The cherry and maple does it for me too, the contrast between the ebony stringing and the light colours that does it.


Thanks Andy. As I mentioned to Mike, the birds eye maple and cherry does it for me too, and I think it would be a safer bet for a larger table. It looks better in good daylight rather than the artificial light that I used for the photos. I had great fun making these as I was well and truly outside my comfort zone for most of the time I was making the tops. I love learning something new, and this was a cheap and painless way to do it. It is no coincidence that the joints in the sunburst on the final table are very much tighter than on the first as I got my hand in. Fouling up on a small piece might be costly in time but not materials, and I very nearly did screw up on the BEM and ABW table edges - but it taught me several valuable lessons. It's just as important to learn what doesn't work as well as what does. And it was only by making the ebony inlay too thick at 2.5mm on this table that I spotted the error and was able to try 1.5mm inlay on the others which, to my eye at least, looks much better. I'm very happy that I didn't make that mistake on a much larger piece. Lots of fun to come I think!
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby DaveL » 04 Jan 2018, 19:25

Very nice tables, I have difficulty picking a winner.

I found when routing my patio table that straight cutters were a nightmare, but I bought some solid carbide spiral cutters on eBay. They are meant for machining metal but they work really well on wood and are comparatively cheap to buy.

The trick used when fitting a binding round a guitar body is to use a bending iron to heat the wood in a dry state, I have never done it but have seen it on YouTube.

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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby MattS » 04 Jan 2018, 21:02

Cracking stuff, maple and black walnut for me, although they’re all lovely :eusa-clap:

Just wondering from your description of the process when trimming down the ply base you routed so far, then used the bandsaw and then router table? Why not do all with the trammel mounted router?
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Re:

Postby RogerM » 04 Jan 2018, 21:31

DaveL wrote:Very nice tables, I have difficulty picking a winner.

I found when routing my patio table that straight cutters were a nightmare, but I bought some solid carbide spiral cutters on eBay. They are meant for machining metal but they work really well on wood and are comparatively cheap to buy.

The trick used when fitting a binding round a guitar body is to use a bending iron to heat the wood in a dry state, I have never done it but have seen it on YouTube.


Thanks Dave. Interesting. Do you have a link to those carbide cutters on Ebay? Also thanks for the tip about heating irons. I'll check that out on YouTube.
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby RogerM » 04 Jan 2018, 21:41

MattS wrote:Cracking stuff, maple and black walnut for me, although they’re all lovely :eusa-clap:

Just wondering from your description of the process when trimming down the ply base you routed so far, then used the bandsaw and then router table? Why not do all with the trammel mounted router?


Thanks Matt. With the small tables I could probably have got away with cutting all the way through with the router. However with a large one I would be worried about breakout if I routered all the way through at the end of the cut. By using a band saw and bearing guided router I avoid that problem. For a large table it might be easier to finish the cut with a jigsaw before trimming with the bearing guided router.
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby DaveL » 04 Jan 2018, 22:25

I think this is the cutter I used in the patio table.

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 1084151821

Not sure if this link will work, I am using the latest version of Tapatalk on a new tablet,
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Re: "Apprentice pieces" morph into side tables!

Postby fiveeyes » 08 Jan 2018, 02:40

Very nice!! Like them all, but the walnut combo is my favorite.
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