Remember the reclaimed boards I used for the Willimantic Coffeetable? Well, I didn’t use them all so I decided to experiment with them for another tabletop by cutting them on an angle. Here, you can see them laid out (underside up).
One problem I had when I worked with these boards last time is that they weren’t flush on top after I glued them up. I tried to avoid that problem here by using biscuits as well as glue. While a biscuit doesn’t increase the strength of this sort of joint very much, it’s excellent for alignment (why don’t you let Kevin show you how a biscuit joiner works? He does such a nice job). I found a used Porter Cable 557 on Craigslist and after about an hour consulting the manual to figure out how to change the blade and set the depth, I was ready to go.
These boards are not all the same thickness, so I marked from the bottom so all cuts with the biscuit joiner would be the same exact distance from the top of every board. Here’s a close-up of the marks I made on the underside of my joints (they were nice and snugged up when I made the marks).
And here’s the biscuit joiner…lookin’ fancy.
And another shot from the top so you can see how very simple it is to get a groove just where you need it. This went surprisingly fast.
Here, you can see what the grooves look like once they’re cut.
Then it was time to glue.
I started from opposite ends, gluing and inserting biscuits toward the middle (you can see the pile of biscuits to the right). Then, using the 1x2s that will eventually frame the tabletop for consistent pressure, I clamped, nailed one long 1×5 to the underside, unclamped, flipped, re-clamped and then cleaned up the glue.
Pretty much the same process as last time, only now all of those boards stayed pretty flush on top. See?
Here’s the tabletop before I sanded it
And here it is after woodfilling, sanding…only missing one little triangle of wood
For the legs I had another roadside find…a house a few blocks away was getting a porch rebuild and had piles of the old lumber in the front yard. I picked up about 30 of these 2x2s…perfect for legs.
I like how they look after a little power sanding…I left a little red paint, which probably won’t show very much once I stain them, but if it does it will look cool. Here’s a before and after.
Legs all framed up. I used inexpensive 1×3 furring strips to frame the legs. On a project made from reclaimed wood, I think if you have to use new wood it’s best to use boards that have slightly rounded edges. Once everything is stained, it blends together much better. Bonus: they’re super cheap.
And here I’ve attached the legs and glued on the 1x2s to frame the tabletop
Then, I added some 1x3s and a long 1×5 to strengthen the frame…when I tried to do something like this before, I used dowels and biscuits are so so so much easier. Here’s a close-up of the 1×3 and the leg with their grooves
When your clamps aren’t long enough, you can take them apart and re-attach like so. I still got a good bite on the clamp even though the bars aren’t perfectly straight.
I went with Minwax “dark walnut” stain this time, because I’ve fallen out of love with “red mahogany,” and I’d say it’s an improvement. There’s lots of variation in the top because some of the boards were in better shape than others. I deliberately used boards of varying quality, but I’m not sure if I’d do that again. What do you call a perfectionist who makes things out of reclaimed boards? A perpetual paradox, that’s what.
Here it is stained.
And here you have it varnished and in its new home at Cafemantic, my very favorite coffee shop.