When a family member's birthday was coming up a couple weeks ago we were debating on a suitable gift to give. Since the weather was nice, we had wood in the shop to work with, and the person in question could use some nice furniture to keep books on, we decided to build a little table.
And here it is. Isn't it adorable! Let's take a look at how we put this thing together.
This was one of those rather quick and fun projects that didn't drag on forever. Sometimes those can be refreshing because you see the result so quickly.
Generally, we prefer traditional building methods around here when it comes to making furniture. Our woodshop philosophy goes something like this: 1) Dowels and glue are stronger (and more elegant) than metal in most cases. 2) If possible, come up with new designs and make something interesting.
So, I guess I don't have to say that this little table was built without metal, we used just some 1/2 inch wood dowels and glue.
When we first started building things, I didn't quite understand the concept of not using such practical objects such as screws, brackets and nails. I figured, if it works, why not use it? But, as we have built more things over time, I'm really starting to see the elegance of this method. Why should you take the simple route, when you could put in just a little bit more time, and get something that actually is stronger, and also more interesting in terms of looks. Nowadays it has become the standard to build things poorly (just look at IKEA and most reasonably priced furniture stores!), and why should we follow that norm, if we have the ability to make something better and longer lasting?
People have just become used to poorly made furniture and don't expect lasting quality to the same degree as they did in the past, and that's a shame. Of course, if you wanted to purchase the kind of furniture I'm talking about, it would be very expensive, and I certainly understand why people generally can't afford that. And that's why we're building our own furniture; because it's fun, and we can make stuff that would be extremely pricey to buy in a nice furniture store. So anyway, if anyone's wondering why we're messing around with dowels, glue, mortise and tenon and other traditional joinery methods, that's why.
But back to the table, here we wanted two shelves. For the top shelf we glued together two planks of New Zealand pine and we already had a nice piece of table-top pine for the second shelf. We wanted to make the general design as clean and elegant as possible. Therefore we decided to cut notches out of each shelf, then fit the legs (1x1 inch Hemlock) into those little squares where they would be glued and doweled in.
We use a lot of clamps. How can you make anything without clamps?
Here we are putting pressure on all the legs which have been glued, and doweled into the top and bottom shelf. It's very important to use clamps and put pressure here, if you don't, it won't be nearly as strong.
And here, we have the table all glued and dried and sanded.
Next up was staining the table. We decided to go for a dark ebony stain.
Turn it around first to stain the bottom...
And then put it upright and finish staining.
Once the stain dried, we applied three coats of polyurethane.
And there you have it. Didn't it come out nice! I really like how you can see the legs coming up at the top. I also like how the design is so simple. It's rather petite, wouldn't you say?
The gift was well received and I know it has come to good use already. And aren't those the best presents? Those that actually are useful to someone, and where some thought and effort went into making it? That's what I think anyway. I always appreciate it so much when someone actually goes through the trouble to make me something special (whether that is a handmade card, a pair of lovely mittens, or the most beautiful bed!)
This little project took about 4 days to complete, although most of the time was waiting for the glue, stain and finish to dry. I'm glad we could make this little table and it was a really fun project to do.