Table Project 7 - Finishing and glue up


I started the finishing process by sanding all the surfaces of the table. Sanding makes all the surfaces level and gives an even appearance. The surfaces were prepared with 220 grit paper, then wiped with a moist cloth to raise the grain, and once again sanded with 220. It is now ready to have the finish applied. I mixed super blonde shellac with Lee Valley shellac thinner, to about a one quarter pound cut, but I don’t go crazy measuring its just approximate. I usually mix the shellac in jars and shake them up every so often untill it is dissolved (right). I then started to wipe on some coats of shellac to build a nice surface for french polishing. After several coats were on the top, there was some small cracks in the surface the needed to be filled (right, after filling). I made a mixture of maple saw dust, shellac and some burnt umber, the mixture was mixed into a fairly thick paste. It was applied the cracks and worked in with my pallet knife. This mixture dries very fast so mix it in small amounts. The surface was then scraped and sanded, ready to apply more coats.  I would apply a few coats, sand, then more coats, sand, etc. I would switch applying coats between the top and bottom of the top, every so often. As the shellac builds, I used finer grits of sandpaper between the coats. I never counted how many coats were applied, but it’s a fair amount. After the coating of shellac was of sufficient thickness, it was time to move on to the french polishing. To accomplish the french polish, first a pad was needed (above right). Get some cheesecloth and cotton balls. Take a large hand full of cotton balls, place them in a piece of cheese cloth and tied them up into a tight ball. Next I took a lint free cloth, this is going to be the polishing pad surface, and dampened it in a mixture of my processed linseed oil and natural turpentine . I took the cheese cloth ball and dipped it into my shellac (you should remove the ball from the cloth each time you recharge it with shellac) and squeezed out the excess. I then placed the pad in the cloth and pulled the cloth tight. I squeed the ball to wet the cloth with shellac. With the pad I did a series of circular and figure eight motions moving across the entire surface (below). As the process goes on you will notice the pad starts to stick to the surface, this is when the polishing is starting. It takes a bit of time to complete the polishing, this took about thirty minutes, but just keep going. After it starts to dry you need to really start applying the pressure and keep moving quick. You will be able to feel and see when the polishing is complete. 



As the top was being finished, the legs and stretchers were being finished as well. I wanted the legs to be a little darker then the walnut was so I mixed up an oil based stain. A mixture of my processed linseed oil, a bit of turpentine, and a bit of burnt umber was used. I then added black iron oxide until I got the desired tint. The stain was then applied to the surface (above, two left ones with stain, right two without), letting it sit for about an hour, then wiping the excess off. The oil was left to dry for a few days, then some orange shellac was used as a top coat, which was mixed to about a one quarter pound cut as well, by brushing it onto the surface. After several coats of shellac they were given a quick sand and then wiping on the remaining coats, leaving a smother finish. 


After I was satisfied with the legs and stretchers (above), the dowels were prepared for the legs. The depths of the holes for the dowels and the gap between, for the ones that are exposed, was added to find the length of the dowels. They were then all cut to length. The exposed areas were then marked, and the glue areas were masked off (above right). They where then hung with masking tape and brushed with some super blonde shellac on the exposed areas. Now the table was ready for glue up.


I started by glueing the long stretchers to the legs. Glue was applied to both the dowels and holes, then the parts were assembled. A few three quarter inch blocks were used for spacers to keep the open areas even. They didn’t require much clamping pressure, and I did not want to damage the finish with clamps, so I made clamp using some twine and a scrap dowel (top right). The twine was wrapped around the leg stretcher assembly several times, then tied. The dowel was inserted in the twine and started to twist. This tightened up the twine acting as a clamp. Once the glue was dry the ends were glued to the legs, and clamped (above). The base was checked diagonally for squareness, and it sat nice and level (below). 



Now that the base was complete, I was ready to attach the top to the base. The top is going to be attached with screws and figure eight connectors. The connectors are placed to allow the top to move with seasonal expansion and contraction. Before attaching the connectors, gun blueing was used to darken them (above right) and the screws. This will remove the shine, allowing the connectors to be more discrete. Once the hardware was dry, it was time at attach them to the top if the legs. The connectors were placed on the legs, the holes are marked, then pilot holes were drilled using gimlets. The connectors were then screwed to the legs, leaving them not extremely tight, to allow the wood to move should it need to. The top was then placed upside down and the base positioned on the top, measuring to make it sit perfectly in place. Then the holes were marked and pilot holes drilled (above). The base was then screwed to the top. The Completed table is below.


That leads to the end of the table project. It was a great project to build, using many skills, and making you think a bit different. I would like to thank you for reading along. In the next posting I will be starting a new large frame saw that will be used a lot on the workbench project. Stay tuned.

© Shane Larson 2017