A Square Deal (42)

42nd post in this sordid tale of love on the wrong side of the tracks. Uhh – wait a minute, wrong blog! This is a series describing the design and construction of a pair of tables in bubinga – yes, A Square Deal times two.


The finish line approaches, and I am nearly finished myself. My left tricep seems unable to recover from the load I’ve put on it these past few weeks, flattening out coat after coat of finish.

The shop is unheated, so I’ve brought parts home to work on in the evenings and on weekends. With the main table top remaining for finishing, I’m starting to consider getting some sort of sander to work the finish down – not sure it will be any faster but it will reduce the wear and tear on my, not to mention the dust. We’ll see – maybe my arm will feel better tomorrow – I’ve been saying that for a few days now.

Today marks the near-end of the cut out process. I’ve been wrapping things up with the joinery on the 38″ square coffee table slab. Lots of small details to be attended to. Gotta stay focused on one task at a time and not start feeling any impatience to get ‘er done. I find this one of the hardest parts of any project. Consequences for screwing something up seem dire – can’t let thoughts get sidetracked.

Here I’m checking the post tenon positions relative to the slab, making sure the posts are meeting where they should and as planned:

Seems to be on the right track:

The stretchers have a couple of coats of finish built up at this point.

Some more work followed on the mid-point connections:

The last stressful hurdle has been passed with the successful cut out of the hammer head key mortises in the slab corners:

Another pic for the heck of it:


I fabricated the ebony hammerhead keys today, and plan to fit them tomorrow, along with a few other minor details that need to be attended to with care. Then the cut out will be done and it will just be finishing, finishing, finishing….

Got the legs into finish. They seem a little darker than the other pieces, despite coming from the same slab. I’ll add a couple of drops of amber aniline dye to the Enduro Var to bring the other parts of the coffee table into tonal parity. Really happy with General Finishes Enduro Var so far – an excellent product!

That was yesterday. With the side table, the top, breadboard ends, and drawer parts are though the finish process. I checked in with the machine shop today and the leveler feet are moving along. Should have them in a couple of days, and then I get to try some patination work.

As darkness rushed in and  the snow started to come down, I got the first coat on the underside of the slab -it was time to head back home:

It’s a sexy wood, ya gotta say that. Lights on!

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way. Next post: 43

4 Replies to “A Square Deal (42)”

  1. Hi Jack,

    good to hear from you!

    The issue of wood movement and temperature is an interesting one, if for no other reason than the misconceptions that surround the topic. The mythology is that wood will expand on warmer days, and contract on colder days. Strictly speaking, this is false.

    For all practical purposes, thermal expansion and contraction of wood is a non-issue for woodworkers. That said, warmer temperatures speed the exchange of moisture within the wood. Moisture exchange will happen more rapidly at warmer temperatures, but there is no thermal movement of wood worth attention. So, at this time of year, moisture exchange is slowed, which is all good as far as I'm concerned.

    At this time of year my shop is cold. Cold air can hold less moisture than warm air, however this is NOT the driest time of the year around here in terms of relative humidity. That, statistically, is in the third week of April. It might be different for other parts of the continent of course. So, all in all, though cold right now, humidity conditions in my shop are in the same average band from late June to early January. Again, all good.


  2. What was the temperature that sent you towards home? I have a stove in the shop, but must hoover about it. I am not talking finishing, just bodily comfort, anything below 40 degrees, and I am gone……….Jack

    PS…………………Are your estimates firm, or do you have a margin?

  3. Jack,

    ah – okay, gotcha. I guess I wasn't clear about the reason i was doing some finishing at home. When the temps dip below the freezing point I find the shop less enjoyable for long stretches for sure. Most of the past few weeks have been 40˚F or lower. I headed home though not just for the body warmth, but for the fact that the warmer temperature allows the finish to dry more quickly to a sandable point, which means I can get 2~3 coats on a day instead of 1. That was the main reason.

    Estimates? In terms of time or??

    As far as time goes, I'm feeling some pressure as I want to get the gate project moving along….


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