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Bog oak coffee table ( Episode 4 joinery)

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Bog oak coffee table ( Episode 4 joinery)

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2019, 18:19

This is going to be slow going, but I thought I'd do a blow-by-blow posting on my latest project, a coffee table. My back still isn't great, so it's an hour on then a couple of hours off at the moment. Put it this way, it took me half a day to get a board from here:

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to here (half a metre away). To be fair, it was the 4th board down:

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I think of this timber as so precious that I stood and stared at it for ages, working out where to cut it. Finally, I plucked up the courage and cut it into three. I buzzed over the bits with an electric planer, just to get an idea of where the colours were:

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They're around 350 wide, so too wide for my planer. Thus scrub plane, by hand, and that's not great for a dodgy back:

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There are some serious cracks:

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Had a long conflab with my wife about these, and in the end she suggested filling them with a contrasting filler!!!! Normally, it's me having to persuade her to try something a little bold. I'm delighted. I had offered the alternative of slicing the boards up into narrower pieces and gluing it back together without the cracks, but she wouldn't hear of it. There is still a conversation to be had about the colour, but my instinct is that we'll end up with black.

The other contrasting thing with this table is the legs. They're going to be ordinary oak. I found an offcut slab of old English oak that has kicked around here for years and years:

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Unfortunately, it isn't rift sawn, but it's only me who will notice. I ripped it and hand-planed to 70 x 70 x 500, and it's going to make quite a contrast to the bog oak:

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Only three legs, Mike? Well, no, the other one was off in clamps, as it had a long split:

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The observant may have noticed little squares cut out of the corners of the table top. They're not to size, but it is a recurring motif of mine to have table legs project through the corners above the top of the table. I cut those little bits out just to mark which were the outside corners, because tomorrow I am going to put these pieces through a friends planer thicknesser as my back isn't up to flattening them properly by hand, and I wanted to know which way the boards were oriented. It's one of the difficulties of the stuff that pencil marks don't show up........but I'd be planing them away anyway.
Last edited by Mike G on 18 Nov 2019, 16:17, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Andyp » 10 Nov 2019, 18:36

Offcut, "a piece of waste material that is left behind after cutting a larger piece."

Sorry Mike that bloody great lump of oak does not constitute an offcut in my book. :)

Far me it for me to disagree but do you think black will be enough of a contrast?
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2019, 18:44

Maybe not. I'm thinking it wouldn't show up too much in the black part of the wood, but would be quite bold in the brown part. It could look quite subtle, but it may be that it just looks like a mistake. I'll do a test piece to find out. I've fortuitously ordered some black filler for another project, so I'll try that first. Otherwise we may be looking at a dark red or blue, which will involve discussions about curtain fabric, cushion covers, carpet colour, and so on.....which I just don't want to have.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Andyp » 10 Nov 2019, 19:04

Is it possible to have a totally clear filler?
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby MY63 » 10 Nov 2019, 19:23

Mike have you thought about using resin to fill the cracks in the table top.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Malc2098 » 10 Nov 2019, 19:29

Black. Yes.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2019, 19:37

MY63 wrote:Mike have you thought about using resin to fill the cracks in the table top.


Yes, I have. I can't say I'm thrilled at the idea, though, for no reason I can articulate. Besides, it's probably too cold now.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2019, 19:39

Andyp wrote:Is it possible to have a totally clear filler?


Yes. Resin can be cast clear. I think that would work if the cracks were bigger, but some of these are only 5 or 6 mm wide and taper to nothing, so it could look a bit odd.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Jonathan » 10 Nov 2019, 21:00

Mike have you experimented with clear filler?
If it's a smallish split it can sometimes not be seen as the clear filler takes on the colour of the surrounding area....its a trick the the antique and fine arts restoration guys use.

My pippy oak table at home I've left the cracks naked........helps the patina!

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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Jimmy Mack » 10 Nov 2019, 21:05

I've used resin mixed with metal powders, you can achieve quite a pretty metal effect when light strikes across the surface.

Here's an example using aluminium and brass powders. The trick is getting as much metal in to the resin ratio.


ImageImageImage

A supplier: http://tiranti.co.uk/

if of interest.

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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2019, 22:51

Fabulous, Jim.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2019, 22:51

Jonathan wrote:Mike have you experimented with clear filler?
If it's a smallish split it can sometimes not be seen as the clear filler takes on the colour of the surrounding area.......


No, I haven't. Interesting.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby MY63 » 10 Nov 2019, 22:58

If you really want to be bold you could fill the cracks with leather on a wooden template. that would be different.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2019, 23:34

That is an interesting idea. It would have to match the settee, though........
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Robert » 11 Nov 2019, 10:17

I recently bought some 'water clear casting resin' from an ebay seller just to have a play with.

So far I'm quite impressed with it. When you stir the hardener and resin together there are lots of bubbles visible. What surprised me was once you pour it the bubbles just vanish on their own. I also double poured some after the first layer had set and the join was invisible. The workshop temperature is low so it took 48 hours to fully harden and I was a bit light with the hardener amounts. It poured and flowed well even when fairly cold so I'd think it would flow into a fine split.

It should be possible to sand it and re polish but I've not tried that yet. It was only test pieces so nothing I've kept. Might be worth investing £16.40 delivered to have a play with some yourself. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Water-Clear- ... 2374394224
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 11 Nov 2019, 10:40

I know that one day I'll end up doing a resin-filled table. There are endless possibilities. But the one thing I know from watching countless "river table" builds on Youtube is that resin requires sanding. Polishing, in fact, down to extremely fine grits. That isn't the way I work, and it isn't what bog oak demands. I try to finish with an edge, even if I've used sandpaper previously in the process. I have a hobby ROS, and I almost never use it, so a resin table would force me to buy something more capable, and to use it a lot.....neither of which appeals to me at all.

Having said that, if I fill this with the black filler I'm expecting to receive today, that will possibly need sanding to fine grits rather than scraping.

My latest thinking is to inlay oak into the (cleaned up) cracks. This will subtly highlight them, is a material I am using on the piece already, and can be finished in the same way as the rest of the top. I'm going to do a test piece today and see what it looks like.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Jimmy Mack » 11 Nov 2019, 14:26

Mike G wrote:I know that one day I'll end up doing a resin-filled table....



Please, no Mike, you're better than this


Though Yes, you're right, lots of sanding through the grits... And a finish that sits rather than soaks, as oil finishes don't take too well to a finely finished surface, as they can't get in.


Has it been mentioned, but how about bowtie / butterfly ties across ?

Perhaps you'd be concerned about debris falling in the crack.... could be a tie plus resin?





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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 11 Nov 2019, 17:49

:lol: :lol:

I'm just doing some butterflies on the underside right now (I've popped in for a cup of tea). I think they may be a bridge too far for my wife, but I'll show her the result and see what she says.

I've also done a test inlay of some ordinary oak, as well as some black filler. I should be able to post some results tomorrow.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 12 Nov 2019, 19:55

I mentioned that I would be doing a test for how I might fill in the large cracks in the table top Here is the result:

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So, it's definitely not going to be the oak inlay!! That was lots of work, and looks horrible. Black filler it is......

I spent quite a bit of time cutting and flattening the apron and drawer fronts. The wood for those is beautiful, but all over the place. It took loads of work. Here you can see winding sticks in use for the long apron on the back of the table:

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Pity I didn't take the "before" photo, as it was a bit of a joke....probably 25 degrees difference! Oh, and this illustrates my "over-under" winding stick technique, meaning that the sticks don't have to be the same size (but they do have to be set up at right angles to the workpiece).

I love seeing beauty emerge from a really unprepossessing piece of wood:

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This is the bulk of the structural timbers done:

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You'll see when I come to doing the joints that the aprons are only good one side. This is because they were so twisted and mis-shapen that the long one would have ended up under 15mm thick if I'd thicknessed it, and one of the side ones wouldn't have been much more.

I inset some butterflies into the underside of the tops, and they've done a great job of stabilising the huge crack (which goes all the way through, obviously):

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You can see that the undersides of the table top boards haven't been flattened yet. I am proposing to fill them first, then take them to a large thicknesser.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Rod » 12 Nov 2019, 23:17

You could stain the oak insert with Van Dyke crystals.

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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 13 Nov 2019, 08:53

Well, I could do Rod, but instead I'm just not doing any oak inserts. The black filler has been approved at the highest level.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby wallace » 13 Nov 2019, 09:45

When I built my kitchen worktops the oak was not the best quality and had some splits. I went to my local key cutters and asked for his sweepings. I'm cheap. I then filled any gaps and sanded. I really like the brass contrast.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby Mike G » 13 Nov 2019, 10:15

That would mean sorting the brass from the steel. It's an idea, though......I'll drop in on the key cutter next time I'm in town.
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Re: Bog oak coffee table

Postby chataigner » 13 Nov 2019, 12:04

Mike G wrote:That would mean sorting the brass from the steel. It's an idea, though......I'll drop in on the key cutter next time I'm in town.


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Re: Bog oak coffee table ( Episode3)

Postby Mike G » 13 Nov 2019, 20:31

I said this would be slow! I made a start on the joinery. Here are the mortises in the two "back" legs (ie those opposite the drawer side of the table):

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There will be a pair of M&Ts for each of the apron/ leg joins, and these are offset so as to not weaken the leg. The mortises are really hard to chisel out cleanly, being 13 x 33 x 50 deep....so small and very deep. I also added a haunch to the edge of the joint not going into a deep mortise, to prevent twisting. If you don't follow that, all will become clear when I show the tenons later in the proceedings. The reason for the deep mortises is that without a lower shelf I am worried about racking. I imagine someone bumping into this table, standing vulnerably out in the middle of the room, and damaging the joints.....so I've made the joints as strong as I can.
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