The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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I'm not an artist. But it will tell me what I need to know.

I’m not an artist. But it will tell me what I need to know.

Last night and this morning I worked on a few rough sketches and measurements for my next project, which I will tentatively call a “hall table.” I came up with a final dimension of 34 inches wide, 31 inches tall, and 13 1/2 inches deep. Those measurements could possibly change slightly, but I don’t think they will. This table already has a location waiting for it, and those dimensions are just about the size needed to fill that spot. Today I ran to the Home Depot and picked up most of the lumber I needed. I found a very nice 1×6 piece of Pine that was fairly straight grained. It will make a perfect apron for the table. For the legs and cross bracing I am using 1 1/2″ thick pine. Two six foot lengths were enough for the legs because I already had enough left over for the cross pieces. The great news for me is that this entire project will cost less than $50. I had nearly enough stock in my shop to do everything but make the top, and I may have enough yet to do that as well, I have to double check the lumber room. Normally, I don’t end up with much spare stock. Most of the time when my projects are finished I only end up with a few pieces that are generally unusable. But every now and again I do have some extras that are worth saving, and I place that stock in a small overhead storage rack that I made to hold electrical conduit. I also have plenty of stain and poly left as well; so much of the material I need is already here. The other really good news is that I can probably get the bulk of this project finished in one afternoon. How can I do this? I will tell you.

I’ve decided to make the bulk of this project using pocket screws. Now, before the woodworking purists decide that I’m a madman who should be arrested and burned for blasphemey let me say two things. Firstly, I’m not afraid of you, and secondly, I’ve decided that this table will be a test piece. Because I don’t have a true reference point for the finished piece, it’s mainly an idea in my head, I don’t want to spend all klnds of time laying out and chopping mortises and cutting tenons. I’m spending next to nothing to make this table. Because of that I can see what the final product will look like without investing hundreds of dollars for lumber and even more importantly, hours of my time in the shop. If it turns out nicely, like I hope it will, I think I will make the next one from a combination of Butternut and Walnut, using traditional techniques. So this project is going to be something of an experiment. With all of that being said, I don’t plan on making a piece of junk that I will just throw away when I’m through with it. I can guarantee you it will be well made, with tight fitting joints, a top with a gentle curve and nice grain patterns, and a nicely proportioned look. I will even dovetail the long, “hidden” drawer at the end. This is going to be a functional piece of furniture, that I will guarantee.

Next weekend I will start and possibly finish my table, at least the construction phase of it. I even have a little surprise add on that I’m not going to tell my wife about until it’s all finished. I’m happy to say that I’m excited to woodwork again. The cold weather hasn’t let up as of yet, but because I believe this project will go quickly, I’m not going to overly worry about it. All in all it feels good to have a project up and running. After only a few days of despair I am back in the shop. I even cleaned my workbench top, cleaned and waxed the table saw bed (one of my least favorite things to do) and sharpened up my jointer plane and jack plane. This will also be the debut of my new spokeshave; I will use it to clean up and shape the curve on the table top.

So my tools are ready, the lumber is ready, and the shop is ready. That sounds like a pretty good combination. I believe this build will accomplish a few things. It will tell me what I want to know about the look and functionality of one of my designs, and it will give me a table that my family really needs. That was enough to end my woodworking hiatus and get me back in gear in less than a month. One thing I’ve learned through all of this: Necessity is a good thing.



  1. Aewl says:

    Have you thought of using dowels?

    • billlattpa says:

      If the table turns out nicely, like I hope it will, I will make the next one with mortise and tenon joinery and pin it with dowels. This one I am treating more as a prototype. Thanks.

  2. Jeff Branch says:

    Nice design. I built a small kitchen table very similar to that a long time ago – center stretcher, that is. Looking forward to seeing it come to life.

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks. I’ve definitely seen similar tables before, just larger. I’ve come across a desk or two with a similar base design. One I think was called a library desk. I think it will look good and in proportion as long as I make the aprons wide enough. I’m leaning towards 5 inches right now. That is the nice thing about using pocket screws and making a prototype. I can work all of this stuff out as I’m doing it.

  3. I’m sure it will turn out great. I use pocket screws all the time, they are priceless!

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks. I’ve never used pocket screws to make an entire project. Mainly I’ve used them on face frames and runners. There isn’t much joinery here so I’m not worried about losing any strength. Pocket screws and glue are plenty strong enough to hold together a side table. If the design turns out nicely I’ll make one using more traditional methods. thanks

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February 2013
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