16 January, 2021

Repurposed Outdoor Coffee Table

– The Wood Whisperer is sponsored by Powermatic and Titebond.

So you might recognize this table, this is the rustic outdoor table, which we built on the show in Arizona.

The finish didn't hold up very well and when we moved toColorado I refinished it using some TotalBoat sealer, epoxy sealer and then top coated itwith a Marine varnish.

Now a couple years later, unfortunately I'm in a position where I have another decision to make.

Take a look at some of this damage.

The really fatal flaw of this finish comes down to this bread board.

Anytime you have an edge and this edge wasn't finished, we finished right over top of this, I didn't put finish inside here, that is a place where the finish might eventually start to flake and lift.

And once it lifts and youhave infiltration of moisture it's just gonna keep on going.

And that's what all this is.

So if you look over the table any place where there's extensive damage there's usually a spot where you can see kind of the epicenter.

You can see where it started.

Sometimes it's a dog claw scratch, because Duggy likes toget on top of the table, and other times it mightbe just a utensil scratch or something.

Or in this case, a natural breaking point where a bread board end has movement, because there's grain goingin different directions.

So you have to be really careful when you're doing film finisheson these outdoor pieces, because the film will alwaysbreak at a certain point and then start to flake up.

Now if you check out the base it's actually kind of, well, it's in much better shape.

The finish isn't as deteriorated, but the base is covered by the top, so it doesn't get as much UV and certainly not as muchmoisture held in place.

So one thing I could definitely say is any outdoor piece thatI build in the future probably won't have bread board ends unless I use a non-film finish and I also will likely not do a complete solid top like this.

I think there is huge benefit in having gaps betweenthe boards for drainage.

So we're actually getting a lotof work done on our backyard and it's causing me to rethinkwhere things are going to go.

For a table that's gonnaget as much exposure as this one does I'm probablyjust gonna go buy something.

Something that either hasa glass top or a metal top or a tile top, somethingthat's easy to clean and that will be the table that we can use on aroutine basis as a family and we don't have to throwa tablecloth over it.

We also need a coffee table, because we do have a covered patio area that doesn't get as much exposure, not nearly as much sun, hardly any moisture at all, but it is outside.

So if we can repurpose this somehow, 'cause my alternatives are tojust maybe give it somebody, let it sit outside andcontinue to get worse, or do something with itthat actually is useful.

So I think that's where we're gonna go.

I've designed something that I feel like there'senough material in this that if we break it downand we're very careful about how we take these boards down we could remill them andgive this another life as a coffee table.

So let's do it.

We flip the table over to detach the top and start breaking it down.

The ends are sawn first and then I rip the top into strips right along the glue lines.

Now we can use a reciprocating saw to cut the rails off the legs.

I'm gonna use the legsas our coffee table legs, so I cut out the cleanestsections that I can.

At the band saw I could trim the remaining rail stock off the legs and then joint and plane them to size.

I could then cut them tofinal length at the chop saw.

Because western red ceder is super soft and the end grain is where we're likely to have the most moisture infiltration I fill the ends with epoxy.

Once dry I can again cut them to length and now the end grainis thoroughly sealed.

I pick through the piecesto find stock for the rails.

None of them are perfect, but we'll put any flaws toward the inside.

Here I have a slot thatI'll fill with a domino.

Notice that I had to said itto make the grain match up and the domino's turnedand inserted in a way that you normally don't insert a domino.

This will be on the inside of the rail, so it doesn't have to look perfect.

A few of my ends of the remnants of the previous domino mortises, so I'll fill those withdominoes and some expoy.

Once dry I can cut theboards to final length and then cut the new mortises.

While they're still nice and square I'll cut the mortises in the legs as well.

To give the legs some shape I'll make a template forthe inside curve tapers.

We can cut those at the band saw.

The first cut removes our second line, so I'll take the offcut back onto the leg and then cut the second curve.

The sawn surface is smoothedwith a little bit of sanding.

The rails will have anice little curve as well, so I'll draw thosedirectly onto the rails, cut them to shape at the band saw, and then sand smooth.

When you have multiple partsof the same size and shape you can sand them all at onceby clamping them together.

This helps prevent rounding over the edge and helps make the curves uniform.

The legs get one additional detail, which is a rounding of the outside faces.

I've done this on a fewprojects in the past and it's a great way to dress up a simple flat outside surface of a leg.

Time for the glue up.

This is an outdoor piece, so Titebond III should do the trick.

This ceder is so soft that I'm using rags to prevent the clampsfrom denting the surface.

Honestly, if you just lookat this wood wrong it dents.

And that's our base.

Now we can make the top.

We'll start with the frame.

The frame is mitered at the corners, so we'll use a sled at 45 degrees, make the cut, and thendouble-check the angle.

Now with the frame dry clamped we can cut and fit the center divider.

The inner slats are resawn at the band saw and milled down to final size, which is whatever size I'm left with after planing them clean.

Much of this project'sdimensions were dictated by what the wood allowed me to do.

I cut the slats to length onone half of the top first.

I feel like it's gonnabe nearly impossible to nail both sides perfectly, so once I get the firstslats in place with spacers I can clamp it and thatdry assembly can be used to measure the length of theslats for the other side.

They should be really, really close, but even if their slightly different no one's every gonna see it.

Next I'll mark the center of each slat and transfer those marks to the frame.

I could then share those marks across the center dividerand the other frame piece, since they should all be the same.

Now we'll cut the mortises.

By the way, this dominomethod is made possible thanks to the Domino Dock by Ramon Valdez.

It's a clever little contraption and makes processing thesesmall parts super fast and easy.

The rails and divider receivetheir mortises as well.

The divider also getssome mortises on the ends that'll help secure it to the outer frame.

The slats are all sanded smooth and the corners are easedwith a small roundover bit.

The assembly of the topis a little bit tricky.

I didn't add mortise andtenon joints to the miters, because I honestly didn't think that I could get the entireassembly together that way.

There's just too many competingmortise and tenon joints.

So you'll soon see what we doto strengthen those miters.

For now they just get a whole lot of glue.

Because I need a lot of working time and this is an outdoor piece I'm actually usingTitebond's polyurethane glue for the first time.

While this stuff does foamup quite a bit as it cures I have to say it wasn't asbad as I thought it would be and I was thankful forthe ample working time.

Once the glue was dry we sanded the top thoroughly and use the chisel to getrid of the squeeze out on the underside of the table.

Probably should've cleaned that up when the glue was still wet, but I was hungry and food always trumps whatever I'm doing inthe shop at that time.

Now our top is glued up and you might be thinkingabout these miter joints, especially for something that's outside.

Any wood movement that occurs we might get separation at the joint, they might lift.

This could be a potential problem.

But part of our strategy was that we were going toreinforce this miter with splines.

So I've got a spline cuttingjig that I'm gonna show you and even though this thing is very big, western red ceder is very light, so I don't feel too unsafemaking this kind of cut.

Let's go to the table saw.

So this is a spline cutting jig that I made quite a while ago.

Basically it has MDF sides, just some plywood scrapmaking a 90 degree cradle, and everything is held, so that the workpiece orthe frame can go in here and go right across a very high saw blade.

So we'll lock the top in this piece and just get ready tomake these cuts, like so.

Now I know this looks sketchy, but you have to understand just how light westernred ceder really is.

The entire completed tableweighs in at only 30 pounds, so the top is maybe 20 pounds at most.

As long as I push along thefence at a slow and steady pace it's all good.

But I realize it doeslook a little bit wacky.

All eight slots were cutwith absolutely no trouble and I should mention that I'musing a square tooth blade, as that gives the bestresults for slots like this.

The splines or keys are cutout of a strip of mahogany, which is planed for a nice slip fit.

The triangles are cut out at the band saw, just oversized for the opening.

Using a putty knife Ispread glue into the slot and onto the keys.

Notice how the grain isperpendicular to the joint.

That is absolutely essential for strength.

After all eight keys are inserted we clean up the excess glue and then throw on a strap clamp.

This pushes the keys home, while an additional clampsandwiches the joint closed.

Once the glue is dry wecan sand off the excess.

Now I can't overstate howmuch stronger these joints are now that we have thosedouble keys in place.

For an outdoor piece, thisis absolutely essential.

It looks pretty cool too.

For the finish I'm moving away from films and trying an Osmo productintended for outdoor use.

The pigment in the finish goes a long way for protecting the wood against UV rays.

And the oil wax blend shouldrepel dirt and moisture.

The finish is spread lightly, trying to make it go as far as it can.

We really don't want it to pull up at all.

Once coated we could wipe back the excess with some clean rags.

Now this finish isn't bulletproof and it will need to berenewed occasionally, but it definitely won't crack and peel and I expect it'll be a goodchoice for a covered patio.

To attach the top I'll usefigure eight fasteners.

So in the end, not a bad fate for a table that was really in bad shape.

Hey, it's Mateo.

What do you think of the table? – Um.

– Dad, I think it's fantastic.

(laughs) – I think it's standard.

– It's standard? What's that mean? – It looks nice.

– Okay, well thanks, buddy.

So the cool thing is thetable is well protected, I think the finish we haveis gonna be easy to reapply.

– Oh, it's smooth.

– A dog.

– Ava.

– I love it.

– Do you guys think this is gonna hold up better than the other table did? – Uh, let's see how much weight it can do.

– There you go, test it out, man.

– Can you help? – You want your bubbles? So I actually have enough material that I think I might be able to build some small side tablesor something with this.

Nothing is wasted.

All right, well, that'sthe end of the video.

(gentle music) – [Mateo] Oh man, oh man.

It is not.


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