Norm's Coffee Table

Time to stop watching and start doing.

SHOP OWNER: Norman Roy
LOCATION: Manchester, NH

    I have been watching The New Yankee Workshop for years now and recently my wife asked me to make her a project. She began by explaining that with all the watching I had been doing, by now I should be experienced. With that said, she handed me a picture of a coffee table.
    At first glance, I wasn’t too impressed with it. However, the more I thought about the project the more I saw opportunities to challenge my skills. Unlike past projects, I could make one with absolutely no mechanical fasteners, I could build the top using a breadboard design, something I had never done before, and I could make the drawer using dovetail joints. So, with a basic picture of what she wanted and a couple of modifications, I set out on this latest project.
Norm's Coffee Table

    I started by making the base and cutting all the mortises and tenons. Since I have not accumulated many woodworking tools, the majority of my mortises were done the old fashioned way, a mallet and chisel. Then I glued-up the base, pinned the joints, and I chiseled in square plugs to cover my pins.
    Next, I focused on the tabletop. I sorted and assembled some nice pieces for the top. I used plain-cut red oak and mixed in two pieces of quartersawn red oak because I didn’t figure it looked too bad. The pieces for the top went together using spline joints. Then I hand planed, belt sanded, scrapped, and palm sanded it. I cut the tenons for the ends of the tabletop and chiseled the mortise into each breadboard end. Thanks to the people here on this Website, I was able to get solutions to a couple of questions I had. I assembled the joints and pegged them. Don’t worry; I left room for expansion so the joint won’t buckle.
Norm's Coffee Table

    Now it was time for the finish. I tried a technique that I read about in Fine Woodworking. The first six coats were polyurethane, which I reduced by 20 to 30%. Then I sanded with 400-grit and applied another three coats of polyurethane reduced 10%. I applied these last three coats using a “rubber”. To complete the finish I sanded to 600-grit, applied a coat of Butcher’s wax and buffed out.
    Although a time consuming process, I was extremely happy that I had made the extra effort, and I wasn’t the only one who liked the results. I’ve caught my wife and her friends running their hands across the tabletop. All they keep saying is, “It feels like butter”.
    Oh, guess what? My wife has handed me another picture, a Sleigh Bed… Honey I need some new tools!

. . . Norman Roy



This is the place to share views of your shop, woodworking tips and methods,
mug shots, special tools or machines, finished work--you name it!
    We prefer digital images via e-mail, but prints or transparencies will do. Include your name, address, phone number and a paragraph or two explaining the photo(s). Not every entry will be used, we reserve the right to edit for length and clarity, and we will not return photos.

P.O. Box 493
Springtown, PA 18081