Make Your Miters
The tables slip inside one another with a 1/4″ gap between each, so accurate cutting and spacing is important. To make the mitered corners and still maintain the grain pattern on the table tops, first crosscut the three slabs into three parts. Use the table saw with the blade set to 90°. Start by marking the middle of each slab and cut the top section from the middle of each slab, allowing the excess length to remain on the leg sections.
You’re now ready to do the precision cutting, and you’ll see quickly why a sharp blade is important. Start with the largest top (22″ x 22″) and set the blade bevel to exactly 45° and the rip fence to cut the miter exactly to the width of the top. If you have a left-beveling table saw you’re in luck as the inside of the table is on the tearout side. If you have a right tilt, that sharp blade is important. Make the first bevel cut on one end, then spin the top and make the cut on the opposite end. Again, with a right tilt you have the extra difficulty of the first miter trying to slide under the rip fence. Adjust your cut for any variance and consider adding an auxiliary fence that fits tight to the table surface. Repeat this with all three tops.
You’re now ready to make the miter cuts on the legs. Start with the 22″-high legs and work through the 20-1/4″- and 18-1/2″-high legs, checking the spacing between the tables by “dry-nesting” as you go.
The hard part is done. The rest is biscuits and clamps. I used four #20 biscuits for each miter joint. With the biscuits cut, the fall-off pieces from cutting the slabs to length come into play. You’ll stick them between the legs while gluing up the miters. It makes glue-up much easier. First check the internal dimension between the miters on each table top. Try to be as exact as possible, then cut spacers from the fall-off pieces for each table. Finish sand the interior faces of each table and the beveled front edge of each piece before assembly. Put glue on the miters and biscuits and glue the tables. Pay careful attention to the miter joint where the top and legs join. Unlike the hardwood edging, you only have about 1/16″ of veneer to sand to match the joint.
With the tables assembled sand the outer faces, paying extra care with the mitered joint. You’re now ready to finish. I chose to simply add a few coats of clear finish to the tables, but any number of stains to match an existing decor will work well. PW
David Thiel is a Senior Editor for Popular Woodworking.