Oak Coffee Table

Not sure how this project started, It seems like I have been working on it forever. I got Margaret on a walk threw the woods on the industrial park behind where we live and we took a stroll threw the dump the buildings and grounds people have there. Piled up in the dump were a bunch of pieces of oak. Especially appealing were the hollow sections. A little elbow grease and slight hernia causing shoves later (that night) I had managed to get several of the sections (probably around 100 lbs. or more each) into the van. From here the fun really started. I then rolled/shoved/hauled the sections from my van up to my apartment. Luckily there was a little snow on the ground to provide some lube or else I would have burned a lot more calories.

I do not have a picture of all of the pieces together, but here is 1.3 of them. How did man make anything before the chain saw and ban saw? With a hand saw... I must have sawed at this for hours upon hours. My wrists were all inflamed and I had to stop doing push-ups for a couple of weeks (instead I put my elbows on towels and used the floor pushing my arms in a lateral-medial motion to get up and down, I think this actually works your chest better than push-ups). I was lucky and found a piece of the wood where the hollow section goes from being two sections to one. This is a very special spot in the tree and my 4 inch slab just happened to capture it!

I found that strapping the piece to my railing provided good support while sawing. My advice on getting an even level cut --> start the cut on one side and stick to the side. Do not work the saw around the wood. This only gives the illusion of getting the job down fast. The best guide for the saw is the track it has already cut out by itself.

Once I cut the slab out, I decided to level it up using a router. The picture is pretty self explanatory. I had made a jig to do a similar job using my table saw and a dado blade, it was working but too dangerous to show a picture of...

At first, I was going to join the legs "into" the table. After trying a few times on some scrap slabs of oak, I never got the tight fit I wanted. Joinery is a skill I am still a rookie at. Therefore I decided to go with loping off four places where I could attach the legs to nice smooth flat surfaces as seen here.

The legs are made of cedar. I did not have any oak lying around for free large enough for this job and they cost way way too much for oak 4x4s.

The top of the table got these pretty cool little cracks all over it. I filled them with dry wall putty on top and wood glue on the bottom. The wood glue kept soaking in after I applied it, so I applied several coats over a few days until it stopped soaking in--> hopefully it filled the entire cracks and made the table stronger. (I tested the putty with the stain I would eventually used first, it surprisingly to me did not soak it up and turn black like I feared)

Here you can see my joinery (still working at this skill...) and the table top after sanding. The legs are joined using two oak dowels on the sides and one from the top. The legs themselves also have a bunch of wood glue holding them on, they are not coming off anytime soon.

Here is a view of the side of the legs, you can see the two oak dowels. There is a coat of stain on here and some polyurethane.

Seeing how we like it in the family room (well, really the one of two rooms in our 1 bedroom apartment). The glass top will have to be figured out now...

Another view of it sans top.