Friday, 21 August 2015

Slab Table

If anyone out there read my entry from last September you may remember that I brought home a very large piece of wood from the coast last summer.  If you want a refresher or just want to see the pics of this big piece of wood on the roof of my Matrix follow the link to Big Wood.  The Slab of wood was just over 12' long, varied from 40" to 44" in width and was 4.5" thick; it sat in the shop through the winter and though there was a little interest from others in having a table made nobody was willing to take the plunge.  So, I eventually decided to just do it.  I decided that as spectacular as a 12' long table is it would be far more practical to build a little smaller and I wanted to build the whole table out of this pieces of wood.  

The Slab in Storage in the Shop

Just for Reference Sake, an Approximate Place Setting

After a bit of deliberation I decided to go with the plan in the sketch below.  I was able to get a pair of legs 27" tall as well as a table top 6'6" long.  Since the legs are from the center of the board and are being mounted in the center of the board I couldn't have hoped for a better situation with regards to wood movement.  

The Plan for the Slab
The first step was to define the center line of the slab.  I measured in from the edges at each end to mark the middle of the ends and then connected those lines to mark my centerline.  From the centerline I struck off a pair of lines perpendicular to the centerline to have a pair of parallel lines to start from.  Those lines were cut with a large circular saw and finished off by hand.  

10" Circular Saw and Shop Made Edge Guide

Finishing off the Cut by Hand
Once the board was cut into the major pieces it was time to start leveling them.  By far, the fastest way I have found to do this is to use a power plane to bring everything to within a quarter inch of level.  This gets most of the heavy lifting done relatively quickly and creates a massive pile of shavings.  

Leveling the Slab with a 6" Power Plane 

Nanook Enjoying a Soft Bed

The Slab After Power Planing

With the planing done I set up a set of tracks for the router to ride over which brings the surface of the slab to within 1/32" of level.  The rest can be finished off with the belt, orbital, and hand sanding.  Then flip the board and repeat.    
Router up on Tracks, Leveling the Slab

The Slab After the Router Leveling

Once leveled, I added in a few butterfly keys and filled the cracks with some epoxy and proceeded to sand the epoxy flush.  Then on to sanding the edges of the boards, to maintain the edges I used sand paper backed with a sanding sponge and a rasp on the edges to break all the edges.  

Filling the Cracks with Black Dyed Epoxy

Sanded Edges

Because of its size and weight I wanted to make sure that the table could be easily disassembled, I also wanted to make sure that none of the fasteners could be seen.  This led to my first time welding.  My friend Gord has a welder and showed my what to do.  We started with a plate of metal and welded on some nuts.  I also welded some nuts to the ends of some threaded rod.  

My First Welding Job
The plates with nuts were recessed into the underside of the table, and I drilled two holes through the length of each leg for the threaded rod.  

Plates Recessed into the Underside of the Table Top

A Test Fit of the Hardware

The First Assembly
 Once the joinery and hardware was working smoothly I applied a thinned epoxy to the table top and then lacquered the legs, stretcher, and table top.  

Adding Epoxy to the Table Top

Finished Table Top

This table will be on display at Southcentre mall from September 11 to 17 as part of the Southern Alberta Woodworkers Society's Fine Works in Wood Exhibition.  There will be lots of original works to be seen so if you have a chance to get to the mall for the show I'd really recommend it.