Chico's Ipe Table

Despite Ipe's difficult properties, this beautiful wood is very durable.

SHOP OWNER: HC "Chico" Sakman
LOCATION: Victoria, BC, Canada

    I made this last summer upon SWMBO's orders. Ahem... I mean request!
    Ipe is above and beyond any other wood I've worked with (including cocobolo, ebony, purpleheart and padouk). It is the most brutal wood I've ever encountered. Nevertheless, after a couple of days of fighting with this wood, I think I finally tamed it! Let me tell you though, when you sand a wood with 100 grit that tears out, and with 220 grit it goes fuzzy, that's an indication that it MAY be a difficult wood to work with! Well, actually figured areas are like that. Straight-grained areas are more manageable. The straight-grained parts finished like cocobolo, which takes a very high polish due to its metal-like density. I can confidently say that figured ipe is the only wood that is NOT welcome in my shop. Oh well, enough of this complaining about the wood.
Chico's Ipe Table

    I was sure wrestling with that middle table stretcher at the bandsaw…. sorry, I said no more complaining about the wood, right? The stretchers for the benches have tenons with angled cheeks. Then, (imagine the bench upside down) just drop the stretcher between the tapering angled legs, drill and drive a ˝ inch dowel, and voila!
Chico's Ipe Table

    I slotted the inside (straight) edges of the end caps of the tabletop. Using only poly glue, I placed spacers between the slats and clamped. That was a chore! Ipe doesn't like to be glued unless the mating surfaces are very flat. I've encountered some edge-to-edge joint failures because of this. My lousy old jointers' cutter head was hopping a bit. The ipe only made it worse due to the bearings, resulting in less than perfect flatness even though it felt and looked flat.
Chico's Ipe Table

    The table is very solid despite the fact that only four wedges hold it together. This seems amazing but it's due to ipe's extraordinary rigidity. I was planning to attach the top with screws but because we move it into the sunroom in winter and outside for the summer, I left it unscrewed.
    The finish is just a couple of coats of Watco Marine Teak Oil.

. . . H. C. Sakman, a.k.a. "Chico"



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