In the latter stages of 2004 UK Workshop held a competition, sponsored by Trend, to win a T5 Mk2 router. The brief was to build a small table using a router, and preferably a biscuit jointer, as much as possible. Emphasis would be placed on the joinery by the judges and a work in progress report was an essential requirement. It seemed as good a time as any to finally get on with making a coffee table I'd long promised my folks, so I decided to enter and try and get it made in time for Christmas. Here was my entry:


Well when I asked if coffee tables were included in this competition it was more in jest than a serious query, but after many years in the planning, and two of them with the timber ready and waiting in the spare room, I’ve actually been sufficiently inspired to get a move on. I don’t hold out much hope of winning on merit, but I might get the sympathy vote. Read on, gentle reader, and all will be revealed… The brief was a small, low table for demanding customers - my folks. Ash was chosen to go with an existing Shaker candle stand; 10m of 125x25mm sawn K/D from British Hardwoods to be exact. Detailed drawings were non-existent; the whole was based on a sketch I did in January 2003 and inspired by Brendan Devitt-Spooner’s rosewood dining table in issue #22 of F&C (November 1998). No one can accuse me of rushing into this… I wanted to do something a bit different from the “four lumps at the corners and a top” style of coffee table, and something you’d be hard-pressed to buy commercially. Initially I intended to biscuit joint the ash legs together, but a lucky windfall of some mahogany pieces - just enough for the job, but only just - and the prospect of a glue-up from Hell, changed my plan to sliding dovetails in thicker intermediary stock.
First step was to saw up the 6 & 7ft planks into more manageable 3-4ft lengths with my trusty, if unremarkable, 22” Spear & Jackson panel saw. Sharpened by me, and cuts through the ash like buttah Having done that it was simply a case of shoving each piece through the P/T half of the Maxi for the next hundred years until I had nearly dimensioned stock. Then I re-stickered it in the spare room for a couple of days. “But it’s been in there for years!” I hear you cry, “It’ll have done all the moving it’s ever going to”. Wanna bet? . Must have had some stresses in there, ‘cos move it did. Back to the Maxi to square it up, and then select the likeliest boards for the top.
I could either have boring-but-can’t-see-the-join straight boards, or interesting-but-you’ll-kid-no-one-it’s-one-wide-board. I went for the latter and used the darker streaked boards to create a stripe down the middle to compliment the legs. Jointing the edges with a cambered blade resulted in me chasing my tail on the first edge, due to being hopelessly out of practice, but by the end I was back in the swing. I put a couple of biscuits to align the joints, my Poor Person’s Planos did sterling work pulling up the slightly - and deliberately - sprung joint and I’m happy to report you can’t see the join.
I took a slightly different approach to finishing on this project, and elected to apply finish to the faces of the stock as early as possible in the process. Here’s the top getting a rub down with 320g PSF and a tack cloth before a second application of Patina while the edges are still unplaned or the ends shaped.
In order to help meet the criteria of the competition, I decided to use a router and trammel to shape the ends into the required curve. Because of the demise of my Bosch earlier this year, and the DeWalt being too heavy for me to manage freehand, that left the Power Devil. Long-term readers of my misadventures will know of my previous contretemps with this beast - it ruined a perfectly good cherry leg blank when the plunge lock unexpectedly gave way - so I was wary. I made a trammel, put a sacrificial piece of MDF to take the point without marking the top, I double-, no, triple-checked everything and started to make the cut.
Three-quarters of the way through the first cut the *$%£#/! thing’s collet gave up holding the bit and there was a Bad Noise. I looked in trepidation; I had a ¼” bite over the line I wanted to cut… Those of long memory will recall how close said tailed Devil came to the bin last time. This time it went, and in a cloud of obscenity. Of course that wouldn’t have happened if I had a Trend T5... I rescued the job with the aid of a jigsaw (oh, how I hate jigsaws in comparison with bandsaws) and the Veritas low angle shave. It took some time, but the end result ain’t too shabby, albeit a shorter top than originally intended...
My next task was to bevel the edges of the ash parts of the legs. If I’d had larger pieces of mahogany I would have probably bevelled those instead, but as it was… I elected to do it using a plane and my Dad’s #386 jointer fence. Once I got the depth set to cut quickly, but not so thick that I lost control, it took about 10 minutes an edge. Quicker on a table saw, don‘t tell me, but the dangers are considerably fewer; plus I got to listen to the radio at the same time.
When all the pencil scribble disappeared, I knew I was done. A habit I’ve adopted since reviewing David Charlesworth’s planing DVD.
Et voilá! 12.5°, but you could always use a 15° bevel router cutter I expect, if you had one.

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