This alder table was a simple end table, made up of a 22″ diameter top, top and bottom wood rings, with an unusual middle: 12 vertical metal bars.

We began by constructing the 22″ round top and adding a small routed detail to the top and bottom edges to give an otherwise simple top a little more sparkle.

The next step was to glue-up and layout two 18″ rings that would accept the 12 metal bars. We cut, mitered, biscuited, and glued the four pieces together. Then, using a compass, we drew the inside, outside, and center of the ring.

After using a straightedge and a square to make a mark every 90 degrees along the center of the ring, we divided each ninety degree section two more times to get twelve 30 degree sections, thereby showing us exactly where we would need to drill for each bar.

Once we marked out the placement for the metal bars, we drilled a 1/2″ deep, 1″ wide hole in both the wooden rings. We also added a small chamfer to the inside edges of the ring an ogee detail on the outer edge.

After we had constructed the three wooden pieces of the table, it was time to turn our attention to the 12 metal bars. We purchased raw cold rolled steel tube stock from a local metal company, which meant that it still has a slight oily film and other grit all over.

The first step in prepping them for finishing was to wipe them down with xylene to remove the oily residue. We then sandblasted every square inch of all 12 bars. The sandblasting both removed any left over grit and grime and it pitted the surface, which would allow the metal primer to adhere even better.

In the finishing room we sprayed on a metallic primer and an oil-based brown paint. Once the paint had cured overnight, we applied a faux-finish painted detail to the wooden rings and the metal bars.

When the paint had fully cured, we began constructing the base. The metal bars would be sandwiched between the two wooden rings and locked in place using a star nut and a bolt at each end.

The star nut was pushed into the end of the metal bar and, when the bolt was tightened and attempted to pull out the star nut, the wings locked themselves into the bar.

The most difficult part of this relatively simple process was keeping all twelve metal bars perfectly ninety degrees to the wooden rings. We quickly realized that if no attention was paid to how plumb the bars were, we were quickly left with 12 bars that were all parallel, but a few degrees out of perfect alignment.

The final product, complete with the stained top, looks beautiful in the clients living room!

In the last entry, I left off with the top of the console table in the vacuum bag. In this entry, we will begin with the top fully veneered.

Console Table 7 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

As you can see in the picture, all of the ribbon Sapele veneer on the sides has the grain oriented vertically and the grain of the top is parallel to the longest side. We veneered each surface individually, which meant that the tabletop took five rounds to complete the veneering. Each time, the tabletop spent three hours in the bag, and at least four hours outside the bag to help the glue cure. After each round we spent a few minutes checking the edges of the veneer and re-gluing any places that had not fully adhered.

A quick note about vacuum pressing. The bag itself exerts up to 1700 psi worth of pressure on the veneer. As the veneer is pressed into the substrate, the air is expelled from the glue joint and a bond is created within an hour or so. But, for the glue to for a permanent bond, it requires the water to be evaporated, which is impossible since the vacuum bag is air tight and therefore void of air in the first place. Thus, when a project is removed from the vacuum bag, it feels clammy and damp and needs a few hours in the open before the veneer is fully set.

Console Table 8 300x400 Sapele Console Table 2

We repeated the veneering process on the base of the table; it was a bit easier since the sides were not as angled as those of the top.

Console Table 9 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

It was now time to drill the hole for the decorative metal bar that would be on the top point of the front and back of the base. We ordered two 1.5″ lengths of 1″ diameter solid aluminum bar from a local metal supplier, sanded the pieces with 320 grit paper to give them a brushed look, and eased over all the edges. On the drill press we then set up a shim that would drill a 1″ hole parallel to the floor. Since the faces of the front and back are not vertical, but angled inward about 3 degrees, if we set the back flat on the drill press table, the hole would be drilled at a -6 degree angle to the face and -3 degrees horizontal. By shimming the piece by .5″, we were able to drill the hole at a -3 degree angle to the face, which translates to horizontal. This may seem to be over-thinking, since only .5″ of the bar would be seen, but the details are what matter in custom furniture.

Console Table 10 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

Next, we turned our attention to connecting the two pieces. The space that the two pieces share is pretty tight and did not make for an easy work space. We decided that the best way to connect the two pieces would be to use dowels. We drilled and glued six dowels into the base.

Console Table 11 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

After the dowels were glued into the base, we turned the top upside down, and attached the two pieces. We used a polyurethane glue for this final glue-up because the glue would expand and help fill any small voids that were present inside the top and base.The tape and paper ensured that the expanding polyurethane glue would collect on top of the paper rather than on the veneer’s surface.

Console Table 12 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

We allowed the glue to set overnight before we flipped the table right side up. We removed the tape and paper, scraped off any excess glue, and gave the entire table a final hand sanding with 220 grit paper. We then took the table into the finishing room and applied a dark brown oil-based stain, two coats of sanding sealer, and a coat of bright-rubbed conversion varnish.

Console Table 13 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

The final product came out absolutely beautiful! The brownish red of the Sapele work perfectly with the whites, grays, and blues of the living room.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.