Monday, March 1, 2010

Mahogany Occassional Tables – Part 1

11:03 AM Comments 1

Solid African Mahogany Coffee, End, & Hall Tables

The next project on the table is a trio of solid African Mahogany tables.  The hall table is 52″ by 17″ and is 32″ tall, the coffee table has a 30″ diameter top and is 18″ tall, while the end table measures 30″ by 26″ and is 24″ tall.

We began the construction on the three table by milling the tops out of some rough-sawn 8/4 African Mahogany.  Usually, when we are cutting a full-length board into smaller pieces to be milled and glued, we use out 12″ chop saw to accomplish the task, but in this case the board was so wide, about 14″, and so long, that we opted to use our trusty skil saw instead.

After a some cuts with the skil saw, a few dozen passes through the jointer, the thickness planer, and the table saw, we glued up three table tops, each 1.75″ thick.

All the glued-up tops were milled a few inches longer than their final length, but the width measures exactly as needed in the end.

With the tops completed, it was time to turn our attention to the legs and stringers.  The name of the game with these three table is weight and heft. The design calls for solid African Mahogany throughout, with the tops measuring 1.75″ thick, and all the legs and stringers measuring 2.5″ thick.

It took some clever manipulation of the three 12/4 African Mahogany boards, but in the end we managed to get all 10 legs and 16 stringers, with pretty much nothing left over in the end.

Here are all the legs and stringers, patiently awaiting the mortise and tenoning process.

I think now is a good time for me to discuss a few of my views regarding African Mahogany.  If you aren’t a nerdy woodworker like me, this may be downright boring, but I will share it anyway.

I have a love/hate relationship with African Mahogany.

I love the wavy, flowing grain.

I love the way the edge grain shimmers with a coat of tung oil or varnish.

I love how easily the material mills, machines, and sands.

I hate how much the color of the material varies.  One board will be a nice rich reddish-brown, and the next board in the stack will be an ugly yellowy-tan-orange color. I am a huge fan of not staining a wood, but rather allowing the natural colors and beauty of the wood stand out, but if the color varies all over, from yellow to red, using multiple pieces of wood in a project can be a frustrating endeavor.  It can be even harder to match solid African Mahogany to a sheet of Mahogany plywood, since the money side veneer on the plywood tends to be a nice rich red color.  When mixing plywood and dimensional lumber, hand picking the dimensional Mahogany becomes absolutely necessary.

Anyway, back to the project at hand.

We tackled the mortise and tenoning next.  We chose to use loose tenons and route mortises in both workpieces.  The mortises were cut using a .5″ stright cutting bit, our trusty plunge router with a mortising jig attached, to a finished depth of 1″.

We cut all of the loose tenons from African Mahogany, ensuring that the seasonal movement of the tenons will match the movement of the furniture.

With all the mortises routed and all the tenons milled, we glued up all the leg assemblies.

The next entry will show the glue-up of the final leg assemblies and the tops.