Heirloom Project

This coffee table features cabriole legs, scalloped aprons, and an oval top. But the straightforward construction wont throw you any curves.




NOTE: To build cabriole legs, see page 14


4" /.






his coffee table is an elegant JL Queen Anne project. It features cabriole legs, a scalloped base, and an oval top with a hand-rubbed finish. But don't assume that this table demands a lot of time or a lot of highly specialized skills. It doesn't.

The legs are the most involved part of this table. So to help out, we've included a step-by-step article on page 14. Or if you just can't bring yourself to build the legs, you can buy them pre-made, see page 35. With the legs done, this project moves along pretty quickly. In fact, the table can almost be completed in a weekend.

cabriole legs. To build this table, the first thing you need to do is to make the legs (A), see drawing below and the article on page 14. These are similar to the legs on the jewelry case. The only difference is the shape of the transition blocks where they join the aprons.

rails & stretchers. When the legs are complete, the next step is to connect them with 3/4"-thick side aprons (B) andfront/back aprons (C). Both are the same width and have a scalloped profile cut on their bottom edges.

But before cutting the decorative profile, I cut the tenons on the ends of the aprons to fit the mortises in the legs, see Fig. 1.

Then after the tenons had been cut, I cut a groove on the inside feces




NOTE: Each square equals V2"

SECOND: Cut out curve of profile

Cut point of profile first

FIRST: Cut out point of profile, see detail 'a'

of the aprons, see Fig. 2. These grooves hold the simple Z-shaped fasteners that I used later to secure the top to the base.

scalloped profiles. Now the aprons are ready for their decorative profiles. The nice thing is, the profile is the same on both the side aprons and the front/back aprons, so I only needed one half template for both, see below.

To create this template, you can either lay it out using the simple grid shown below. Or you can buy full-size patterns for the legs, aprons, and top, see page 35.

With the template complete, I began laying out the profile on the front apron, see Fig. 3. To do this, the base will need to be dry assembled first. Thaf s because the curve on the template must start where the transition block on the cabriole leg ends, see Fig. 3a. (It's also important to keep the top edge of the template flush with the top of the apron.)

Draw the profile; then flip the template over and draw it again, starting from the other end. The half template meets in a shallow curve at the center of the apron.

The profile on the side aprons is the same as the front/back aprons —just shorter, see Fig. 4. So I simply trimmed off the template. As with the front/back aprons, the curve starts at the transition block, so you may need to adjust the centerpoint of the profile.

After the profiles are laid out, the scalloped edges can be cut. The important thing here is to get a clean, sharp corner at the "point" of the profile. To do this, I started by cutting the point of each profile, see Fig. 5a. Then I cut from the ends along the curves to the point to remove the waste, see Fig. 5.

Finally, I glued and clamped the base together. Then I sanded the scalloped edges smooth, making sure the joint lines between the transition blocks on the legs and the aprons were flush, see Fig. 6.


NOTE: Each square equals V2"



Adjust center point, if necessary

.jqinning ofprofile with leg

NOTE: Each square equals 2"


I'm not an artist and don't feel comfortable drawing freehand curves. But recently, I was shown a quick way to draw freehand curves by first creating a rough grid. All you need is some paper for the pattern, a pencil and a tape measure, and a table with a square corner.

GRID. To do this, I made a 2" grid using a trick I'd been taught by a carpenter, see left and center photos. To draw the lines, hold the tape

Table Top

With the base complete, I set about to build the top. This is pretty simple really. The top is just a glued-up mahogany panel cut in an oval shape.

one hanc, tn i "-iook" the pencil on the end of the tape.

CONNECT DOTS. With the grid drawn, plot the points of the curve on the grid. Now, drawing the curve is just a matter of "connecting the dots."


To do this, I began by making a paper pattern first. Then I created a hardboard template from this pattern and used the template as a guide when cutting and routing.

paper pattern. As I mentioned, the first thing to do is create a pattern for the top, see Fig. 7. The oval shape of this table isn't a true ellipse. So it has to be drawn "freehand." This may sound a bit intimidating, but it really does require less artistic skill than you might think. You just draw a grid, plot some points, and connect the dots, see box below.

Note: There's no need to make a full pattern; a quarter pattern will do. And if you don't want to make your own, a full-size quarter pattern for the table top is available, see page 35.

hardboard template. With the paper quarter pattern complete, I used it to make a full-size template out of 1/4"-thick hardboard, see Fig. 8. There are a couple advantages to creating a hardboard template for this project For one thing, if you happen to make a mistake when cutting or sanding the template, it's no big deal. Hardboard is cheap compared to mahogany. But even more important, it's much easier to shape and sand a

NOTE: Each square equals 2"

'A" hardboard 48")

Flip quarter pattern to make template bottom of panel template

W-thick hardboard template than a panel made from 3/i"-thick solid wood.

Plus, I was able to use the template to guide the router bit as I shaped the edge, refer to Figs. 10 and 11.

To make the template, I started by cutting an oversize blank and drawing centerlines on the top to create "cross hairs," see Fig. 8. (The blank was 30" x 48".) Next, I drew the pattern on the blank, flipping it around the centerlines from the quarter section until the layout was complete, see Fig. 8a.

When cutting out the hardboard template, I used a sabre saw with a fine tooth blade, staying Vw" from the layout line. Then I sanded the template up to the line.

oversize panel. Now that the template is complete, the next step is to glue up a %"-thick blank for the top. This blank starts out the same size as the template blank (30" x 48").

When the glue is dry, remove any excess glue and plane and sand the panel flat. Then carpet tape the hard-board template to the bottom face of the panel, see Fig. 9.

Like the template, I rough cut the panel with the sabre saw. But this time to get the panel flush with the template, I used a flush trim bit in the router, see Figs. 10 and 10a.

However, when routing the edge of the table top, you're likely to run into some chipout. The solution is to backroutthe edge, see page 29.

Next, I routed a profile along the top edge of the table, see Figs. 11 and 11a. (This requires the same proce

Round over bottom edge with sandpaper

Round over bottom edge with sandpaper dure as the flush trim routing.) There are a number of profile bits you can use. I chose a special Freud bit designed especially for table top edges. (For sources, see page 35.)

Note: This bit didn't fit the opening on my router base, so I replaced it with an auxiliary base, see Fig. 11.

Once the profile was complete, I hand sanded the bottom lightly to remove the sharp edge, see Fig. lib.

Before attaching the table top to the base, I applied the finish. First, I put a coat of stain on everything. (For more on staining end grain, see page 30.) Then I applied a couple coats of varnish. If s a good idea to add a third coat to the top. This way, there's a thicker film of finish so you can "rub ouf' the finish to a high gloss.

When the finishing is done, the one thing that's left is to attach the table top to the base with Z-shaped fasteners, see drawing below. OS

X few years ago, I helped a friend JLside his house with cedar shingles. The job took time, but it sure looked great when we were done.

Fortunately, the cedar shingles we used on this bird feeder didn't take nearly as long to apply. And the copper roof doesn't require any special metalworking equipment. (The roof is actually made of plywood wrapped with a thin copper foil.)

base. I began work on the bird feeder by making a 3/4"-thick base (A). This is nothing more than a glued-up 12"-square blank with beveled edges, see drawing below.

Note: Since the feeder is going to be exposed to the weather, I used two types of water-resistant glue for assembly. (Here, I used Titebond II. Epoxy will also get used later.)

After cutting the base to size, the next step is to drill a l^'-diameter hole in the center for a support pipe. While I was at it, I also drilled the shank holes for attaching the center divider which is added next.

center divider. The center divider separates the feeder into two sections and provides a way to attach the sides. The divider consists of a top/bottom (B) and two ends (C) sandwiched between two sides (D).

A To make it easy to fill, the feeder is designed to be lowered down to a convenient height.

Drill centered hole through top and bottom

Center divider


Center divider s JSIDE

(%" exterior plywood)

Center divider

Bevel edge 15'


Align holes in center divider ■ with holes on basé >

Vi"-thick exterior-


Align holes in divider and base

#8 x V/4" Fh-woodscrew shank hole

NOTE: All pieces (except sides) are made from 3A"-thick cedar


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