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Two-Drawer Coffee Table Claymont DE

This table requires only 25 bd. ft. of 4/4 stock and 9 lineal ft. of rough-cut 2-in.-square stock. If you don’t have a jointer and planer, buy turning squares and rip them down to make the legs (see Sources, page 59). The following article has more tips.

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Two-Drawer Coffee Table

Two-Drawer Coffee Table

Pass-through drawers offer two-sided convience

by Tim Johnson

A coffee table isn’t just for coffee. It displays interesting reading and serves the Saturday night pizza. It hosts Scrabble games, labors under kids’ crafts and gives you a place to rest your feet. It’s a real workhorse that has to be well built and versatile. Our table is rock-solid, featuring mortise-and-tenon joints, splines, and dovetailed drawers. It’s also easy to build, because simple, shop-made jigs ensure perfect-fitting joints. Its two drawers act like four, because they open from both sides. A standard dovetail jig is all you need to make them. Rare-earth magnets work like magic as two-way drawer stops (see Sources, below).

This table requires only 25 bd. ft. of 4/4 stock and 9 lineal ft. of rough-cut 2-in.-square stock. If you don’t have a jointer and planer, buy turning squares and rip them down to make the legs (see Sources, page 59). Buy 3/4-in.-thick boards for everything else but the drawer sides. Get 1/2-in.-thick boards for them and a 2 ft. by 4 ft. piece of 1/4-in. plywood for the drawer bottoms. We built our table from cherry, and used birch for internal parts and drawer sides. Our cost, including one-half sheet of 3/4-in. birch plywood for the jigs and clamping cauls, came to about $250.

The only must-have power tools for this project are a tablesaw and a plunge router equipped with an edge guide. You’ll also need a drill, a coping saw, a sharp 1/4-in. chisel, glue and the usual assortment of clamps, including four 4-ft. pipe clamps.

Start at the Top

I always make the top of a table right off the bat, for two reasons. First, it’s the most important part, visually, so it deserves the best-looking boards. Make the aprons, rails and drawer fronts from the leftovers.  Second, you can start finishing the top early, so the finish will have plenty of time to cure. This is especially important if you plan to build up layers of finish for long-lasting protection. Be sure to apply equal layers to both sides of the top, to keep it stable. 

I like to use hide glue when I work with cherry, because of its dark color. Its long open time also makes it easy to fine-tune the joints between the top boards (Photo 1). Wait 24 hours before you remove the clamps. Hide glue takes a long time to dry.

Cut the top (A) to size, smooth it and soften all the edges. I use a router with a 1/8-in. round-over bit for this, but sandpaper and a block will work. If you have children, you may also want to round the four corners for safety.

Photo 1:  USE YOUR BEST BOARDS FOR THE TOP. Choose ’em and use ’em right away, so you don’t get caught short later. Cauls above and below keep the boards aligned and flat during glue-up. Use a non-marring mallet to make minor adjustments.Size Up the Legs

The four legs (B) are mortised, dadoed and tapered (Fig...

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