American White Ash Dining Table

I happened to get a great deal on some 90 x 40mm American Ash via our local online auction site. There was 28 m in total and it ended up being the perfect amount of timber to build this table.

The design I had in mind was modern and minimalist. It consisted of a solid laminated top 1800 x 900 mm and 34 mm thick, a steel frame and 63.5 mm (2.5″) diameter legs.
The timber wad cut roughly to length.
I noticed that one of the lengths had a fairly deep knot in it. This repair probably wasn’t necessary as it would be on the bottom of the table top hidden from view, but I wanted to use this opportunity to experiment with using the CNC router to make a plug.
I roughly sketched the shape of the repair and then transferred it to my CAD software.
I cut a pocket in the timber and then a matching plug out of a piece of scrap.
Fortunately I designed my CNC to be able to pass long lengths out the back of the machine.
Plug and pocket ready for glueing.
Clamped in place.
Trimmed on the table saw before being planed flush with a block plane.
I began the glue-up in sections of two and three boards, this way I could pass them through my thicknesser prior to the final glue-up. This minimised the amount of hand flattening required. With only three pieces being glued at a time I was able to keep the joins pretty flat using clamps and cauls.
I used a biscuit jointer to help keep things aligned for the final glue-up.
Everything went together pretty well. I think I made the mistake of tightening all the bottom clamps before the top clamps, this bowed the top very slightly but luckily it seemed to flatten back out over the course of the next week.
I used my Stanley No.4 hand plane to flatten the top. Even using the biscuits there were some small ridges at the join lines, only about 0.5 mm of misalignment so it wasn’t too much work to get flat.
There was some minor tear-out caused by planing and also some deeper tear-out left by the thicknesser in regions where the grain was difficult. I tried using my orbital sander and also a belt sander but both were taking too much time, thankfully I managed to fix most of it with a card scraper. This was the first time I had used this tool and it was really a lifesaver.
I used a track saw to trim the top to length.
I sanded with 80, 120, 180 and 240 grit paper using my orbital sander. The top was finished using two coats of Osmo Polyx Oil with a rub-down between coats using an abrasive pad. I really like this finish, it is very easy to apply and the results are very nice. It is also very easy to repair/maintain, a light sand and re-coat can even be applied in the living room.
I sourced some 63.5 mm (2.5″) diameter, 3 mm thick mild steel tube and some 50 x 25 x 2.5 mm rectangular section for the frame. The tube was cut into 115 mm lengths for the leg supports and cleaned up on the lathe.
A 63.5 mm hole saw was used to cope the ends of the rectangular tube stretchers to accept the leg supports.
Fit-up was good.
I tried my best to hold everything in place and minimise warping but still ended up with the leg supports warping inwards slightly.
I am happy with the quality of the welds I achieved considering I am a beginner TIG welder and this was only my second TIG welding project.
Moving onto the legs, the first step was to laminate the timber to achieve the required thickness.
The legs were then trimmed on the table-saw into an octagonal profile to remove most of the excess material.
I designed a quick jig to act as a 4th (rotary) axis on my CNC router.
Rotary axis jigs fully assembled with the bearings pressed in. I used glue and screws to assemble the jigs.
Mounted and dialled in on the CNC bed.
The instagram post below shows the CNC in action. The rotary axis is powered by a hand-held drill. The program is relatively simple so I hand-wrote the g-code.
I was also able to use the CNC to cut a step into the legs. This narrow section will fit into the steel leg supports and is sized such that the outer surface of both the leg and the leg support will be flush.
This technique really made a mess but I’m very happy with the results.
Quick and dirty router table.
Legs sanded, chamfered and ready for finish.
Mounting tabs were cut from 3mm steel plate. These will be welded onto the table frame and screws will be used to attach the table top. The holes are slotted to allow for wood movement. The table top is likely to expand and contract across its width due to changes in temperature and humidity.
Finishing up the frame fabrication, joining the frame ends with the stretchers.
Frame complete and ready to be powder-coated. The frame was bead blasted and coated with Dulux “Mannex Black” which is a textured powder-coat finish.
Legs were glued in using an epoxy “Builder’s glue”.
Clamped and left to cure for 24 hours.
Here you can see the slight texture of the powder-coat finish.
Final assembly, attaching the table top to the frame using 8 gauge 25 mm long screws.
The table is complete, and I am really happy with it. Hopefully it will last for many years!

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