A Sofa Table, of Sorts
This little table, inspired by a classic Shaker side table, will go alongside my couch next to the window. I’d like to claim it’s for a reading lamp; really, it’s so the cats can sit on it to look out the window (the arm of my new couch is too thin for cat comfort).
The finished table is 32″ long, 8″ wide and 24-1/2″ tall. Why the odd, skinny size? That’s all that will fit in the intended space (I do worry that for JJ – my fat cat – it will be a tight squeeze).
I foraged through the scrap bin for anything that would do, and found cherry thick enough for four 1-1/2″ thick legs. I also had a 9″-wide piece of cherry left over from another build, so I cut that to size for the top. And it was a simple matter to find enough 3″-wide scraps for the aprons. None of it is particularly striking wood, but as only one end of the table will show, and the top will quickly be covered in cat hair if not cats, I’m OK with that.
I fully intended to use square legs, and just pocket-screw the table together. I expected to be done in a couple hours. But, Glen was in the shop yesterday working on the November cover project, and he kindly gave me a few minutes’ instruction on tapering legs on the jointer (you can see a video of this technique, which Glen picked up from Troy Sexton, here). Very slick; very quick.
But with unexpectedly fancy legs, I decided I couldn’t in good conscience use pocket screws to join the aprons to them. So I set up the mortiser with a 1/4″ hollow-chisel bit, cut mortises, then cut the matching tenons on the table saw with a two-step cut…which ended up as a four-step cut, because my aprons weren’t quite 3/4″ thick, and I wanted a little extra meat at the front shoulder of the tenon (I had to reset the fence for cheek cuts on the other side of each tenon). You can read about how to make a jig for this technique here.
After I got the base glued together, I realized I didn’t have any way to get inside (with the tools I had available) to cut slots or mortises for buttons to hold the top in place. So much for avoiding pocket screws! And, the Kreg jig couldn’t clamp in the 5″ inside the table, so I had to bug Glen again to act as a human clamp while I drilled the holes for the screws in the two sides. Thank you Glen!
I ragged on a coat of Watco Danish oil, let it sit for a half-hour while I caught up on celebrity gossip (I want the former Catherine Middleton’s wardrobe) then ragged on another coat and answered a few e-mails while the table sat for 15 more minutes. After wiping off the excess, I sat the table in the back seat of my car and took it home.
I’ll let it sit in my dining room to dry overnight (and leave the windows down in my car for a while – Watco is some redolent stuff in a small space). Tomorrow, I’ll find out what the cats think of their perch. But I am going to buy a small table lamp to put at one end – that way I can call it a sofa table instead of a cat perch…that sounds a bit less crazed cat lady-ish.
But unfortunately, there’s still plenty of time left over this long weekend to clean the house. Hmmm…now what else do I need to make….
• If you like the Shaker style as much as I do, you’ve got to get the book “Pleasant Hill Shaker Furniture” by Kerry Pierce, with measured drawings by Kerry and spectacular photography by Al Parrish (the same guy who shoots most of our covers and opening photos) as well as a look at the history of the Kentucky community.