A Square Deal (21)

Post 21 in a series describing the design and construction of a pair of tables in bubinga. The previous post can be found here, and first post here.


Commenced work on the pillow blocks today, which just involves some lil blocks, however lay out took quite a while, as making sure the lines were in the right places seems to be always worth the trouble.

The pillow blocks, along with the vertical dust panels which lay in between them, rest atop the apron assembly, so my first task after layout was to dado the apron upper surfaces and mortise in the middle for a spline:

The dado is slightly off center, so cut out was not as straightforward as it might be otherwise.

The pillow blocks were mortised and then shaped:

The splines were then pressed into the blocks:

These could be glued eventually, but the only purpose of the splines is to locate and align the middle blocks, which are under no significant loads otherwise, so I’ll leave them glue-less along with the rest of the framing. The blocks will be notched on the narrow ends for the dust panels soon enough, when I have completed the corner block joinery.

The middle pillow block and spline could now be test-fitted to the middle of the apron:

In she goes:

Fit’s fine, with no wiggle or rocking:

Being Friday, I give my shop a tidy up at the end of the day and while moving the coffee table slab around I realized I hadn’t checked it for flatness in a few weeks. Suddenly apprehensive, I put a straightedge on to see what was what:

All good. it’s even flatter than last time I checked, maybe 1/32″ bulged up in the middle is all. Feeling good about that!

At the end of the day, I had the middle pillow blocks fitted:

Next, a glimpse of how things will configure later on – I popped the table slab on to see how things looked:

With the top on the pillow blocks are concealed from casual view in a standing position. You would need to be sitting or kneeling on the floor to view them as in the above photo. And that’s fine – I like things, both in architecture and furniture, to reveal themselves with closer inspection.

The corner pillow blocks are next. These will require some jig fabrication to make, as they are half-lapped with fairly large mitered abutments and employ a floating square tenon, or dabo as the Japanese call them. Mitered half laps are often a bit fiddly to execute tidily. I’ve laid one of the corner blocks out already and will spend the weekend mulling over the best way to proceed for the cut out.

Thanks for your visit and please enjoy your weekend. On to post 22.

6 Replies to “A Square Deal (21)”

  1. Chris, seeing as how exact you work….when the time comes…if the table top is still bowed 1/32 will you plane it out? or leave it to move as it needs to?

  2. Joe,

    thanks for the question. Still thinking about that issue actually. It boils down to how the top will look with a finish on it, as the glossiness will reveal imperfections more readily. Not sure at this point if the finish will be glossy or matte – that's one thing. If the surface is evenly bowed, then it may look fine, however if it has a more lumpy appearance in the bowed area, then I may elect to plane that portion out.

    Regardless of what I do, the top will move in service, and I expect some of that movement will be tending to bulge the table up and down slightly, so that will likely have repercussions as far as how the surface looks. Not much i can do about that. The framing will tend to keep the parts flat and in plane, and allow them to move. You can corral the sheep, so to speak, but forget about keeping them fixed in place.


  3. As a suggestion. There seems ample room (within the apron area) for a middle cleat that could serve as a attachment point in the tops center. The connection point need not be large, perhaps modeled as a pillow block. Great work Chris.

    Jack Sundberg

  4. Jack,

    much appreciate the suggestion, however am unsure why there would need to be more than 4 attachment points on such a small tabletop, especially given that it is quartersawn and unlikely to move very much. I will be employing a mid-point connection to the top along each of the four aprons on the coffee table top though.

    Have made some slight design revisions to the piece, which may be shown in the next posting.


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