Couch End... Err.. Coffee Table

April 29, 2014

Latest Post The Hound of the Baskervilles by Owen Soule

In a shocking turn of events, and what is proving to be a recurring theme here at Soule Designs, I have yet another woodworking update about a project whose initial design has been hacked apart.  Luckily for all those who hate wood this line of reports is nearing an end as I am almost through my backlog of woodworking projects.

There's a hacking a transpiring over at the old Soule place!

I'm going to cut to the chase here.   The legs of the once proud couch end table have been severed down just under twelve inches transforming it into a lowly coffee table.   Since this project began in 2009, our furniture needs and space have changed and what we really need now is a nice classic coffee table.  Our current one is a Lane piece from the 1960's that looks incredibly odd in a 1920's Tudor home.   Interestingly, looking up info on our current coffee table I found it is a Lane Perception Surfboard Coffee Table:

Solid Walnut and Oak Wood, Highly Collectible and Sought After Perception Line, Designed by Warren Church. This Line is the Most High End of all the Lane Collections.
The Hairpin Style Legs and Woven Basket Weave Pattern of the Drawer Front Make This Table Particularly Desirable 

Not too shabby for a free coffee table I got for helping my sister when she moved away from Hoboken!  Anyway, back on topic, try to avoid fainting as I show you this horrific image:

The horror, the horror... this was double cut, the smaller bit was my first test cut.

Luckily I have a good four plus years since I spent any appreciable time on this project so I was more than happy to hack off the legs.   Apparently the longer the amount of time you have from a project the less precious it becomes.   Anyway, the legs were chopped with a hand saw and all that remained to prep for staining and finishing was pegging the breadboard ends on.  Previously they were held on by friction alone.   Here is a rundown of the process:

Breadboard end laying on top, tennon already drilled and ready

Peg in one of the elongated holes at the far ends of the tenon, this allows for expansion of the breadboard end

Breadboard end fitted back over tenon

Pegs hammered into place, only the center is glued to once again allow for expansion on the left and right

Funky flexible Japanese saw for cutting off pegs, a.k.a. the shitsaw since it can't cut shit except pegs

Pegs cut off and sanded smooth

The table top flipped, pegs are only visible when lurking beneath the couch end coffee table, which shouldn't happen often unless gremlins invade the house

That's it, breadboard ends ready for stain.   Another thing I ran into getting everything ready for staining/finishing was discoloration on the table top.  Since this project sat for so long with the drawers resting on the table top, the wood darkened leaving blocks of lighter and darker coloring.    I found this on American Woodworker regarding this characteristic of cherry wood:

Cherry’s color deepens from a pale pinkish-tan to a deep red-brown as a result of its exposure to air and light. The color change is so rapid at first that within hours, a partially covered board can develop a shadow line that can be hard to sand out. It’s important to keep freshly planed boards either completely covered or completely exposed.

Now you tell me!  Anyway, I had to go back and re-sand the top to get the bulk of the shadow lines out.   Now it looks pretty consistent:

The now shadow-line-less top of the couch end coffee table

Another thing I found, in that same American Woodworker article, was the fact that sapwood and heartwood darken differently.  You can really see some sapwood on the portion of the top closest to the camera above. The article explains:

The difference between cherry’s white sapwood and rosy-tan heartwood becomes more distinct over time. The heartwood darkens, but the sapwood doesn’t. The best way to deal with sapwood is to cut it off, but it can be finished to blend with the heartwood.

Double doh!   Who knew cherry was such a pain in the ass, maybe I should stick with poplar and pine?  Oh well, my plan is to staining seal the whole thing next because apparently staining cherry is a bitch too without a sealer.   Then I'll stain with General Finishes Antique Cherry, throw down some General Finishes Enduro-var and call it finito.

Owen Soule

Published April 29, 2014