Tracking the slow progress of my many projects

The Coffee Table Project

, posted: 21-Feb-2015 10:44

So I got married on the 16th of January, and in the month or so before the wedding my wife to be had expressed an interest (look how diplomatic my wording is) in getting a coffee table for our lounge.
This is where all her wedding glamour shots would be happening so she was keen for a high quality piece, and she wanted something that fit well with our 4.5 seater sofa.  
A month or so to do this – definitely a rush job!
We had discounted buying a coffee table as way to expensive and hard to get in the dimensions we wanted.
The finished coffee table is 1560mm long x 625mm deep x 40mm thick, 350mm high with legs.
We had liked an asymmetrically striped coffee table we had seen online so I found and bought 3 types of wood Macrocarpa, Matai and (probably) Tasmanian Oak.
Then, with some advice from my workmates I started getting the timber cut and put through the thicknesser to get all the dimensions the same.
Using the Thicknesser Using the Thicknesser Using the Thicknesser Using the Thicknesser Laying out the wood Rough cut to size
I cut the tasmanian oak in half lengthways then did some rotations and trims so the bolt holes wouldn't line up.

Then it was time to glue it together, I did this in two pieces so I could fit them back through the thicknesser before a final glue joined them together.
Clamping Clamping Lichen in an old bolthole
While this was happening I had ordered some 3 rod hairpin legs from a guy in Mt Maunganui
All the bits Hairpin legs Hairpin legs
Louis our Maine coon cat decided to be in this shot

I decided that the bolt holes would need to be filled and epoxy was the way to go, some nice UV resistant surf board stuff even.
I taped the holes and cracks over, flipped the table top and half filled with epoxy. Once set I added some stones my gran had given me and filled them up fully.
Sealing the bolt holes Sealing the bolt holes River stones for the bolt holes

[Later disaster struck and I had the photos of the following work wiped from my camera]

Epoxy is a real bugger to work with, what I wish I had done is apply a light sealer coat to all sides before I applied a thick layer over everything.
Without the sealer coat I had bubbles everywhere! Now you can use a heat gun to pop these as they start to form, but as the epoxy soaks into the wood more air came bubbling up!

Although I did do each side one at a time with blue painters tape dams along the edges to give it a sharp edge and reduce drips.

As the epoxy sets I would have tiny bubbles I had to carve out and refill, or a cone with no epoxy at all (a bubble had popped by the epoxy was to set to close over).
Much swearing, sweating and rhetorical questions ensued. My favourite was “what the ____ am I going to do now” - bonus points if you can sound angry and plaintive at the same time
Each time I would give it a sand back with the random orbital with 120 grit paper, clean the dust out with canned air, and then mix a small batch of epoxy to fill any holes I could see.
I fitted the legs, a self-centring drill bit is something I cannot recommend highly enough.

At this stage the wedding is in two days and I look at the top and think "just one more pour" I mixed the epoxy and using a toothpick dripped it into any open bubble holes I could find.

It didn’t set.

The problem with mixing epoxy in small batches is that the ratio of epoxy to hardener is very sensitive when you have small amounts.
It was milky and gummy and much more swearing ensued.
So my bestman and I spent 2 hours sanding it back and cleaning up the mess as much as possible. We went down to a 600 grit sandpaper to finish it, I had 1000 but the enthusiasm was not there for either of us.
I wiped it down with some oil which brought some of the shine back, but not to the glass like finish an un-sanded epoxy can have.
All finished All finished All finished Edge view Edge view
Or at least until I have any enthusiasm to sand, pour and swear some more

Other related posts:
The TV cabinet

Permalink to The Coffee Table Project | Add a comment (4 comments) | Main Index

Comment by Mark, on 21-Feb-2015 13:19

Nice!  I like the choice of legs, did you get them from a shop ?

Rather than sand have you used a cabinet scraper ?  I find it does a nicer looking finish than sanding when the oil goes on, grain comes out nice.

Author's note by Dav4122, on 21-Feb-2015 21:46

I got them from which is run out of Mt Maunganui. I had considered an american site but although the price was similar the shipping was of course much more.


I havent used a cabinet scraper before, but have seen people use them on some of the DIY youtube channels - might have a look next time I swing by placemakers

Comment by freitasm, on 22-Feb-2015 08:26

Really cool. I wish I could do things like this...

Comment by bcourtney, on 24-Feb-2015 11:46

This looks fantastic. Well done!

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David Hansen
New Zealand

I am a high school technology teacher, living in a renovators dream home, with an interest in good food, and homebrew beer