Final Photos of the Modern Glass Top Coffee Table

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Last year, I built a modern coffee table for a very good friend of mine in D.C.  The main concept was to have a coffee table that looked like one cohesive table, but was then able to pull apart and serve as two end tables when the apartment got crowded during large social gatherings. It is made up of multiple bent laminations (taking thin strips of wood and gluing them together to make a thicker piece that can then be more easily manipulated into a curved shape).

I wanted to play with the negative space of this piece, so I stacked the laminations on top of each other, with only a few spacers in between.

Over the next few weeks, I will post the progress and final pictures of this table.

This first photo is a full scale drawing of one of the "C" curves. Two "C" curves eventually fit together to form one "S" curve.

full scale drawing
full scale drawing

This table is made of Ash.  I specifically selected very straight grained boards so that the table would have a cohesive look.  I picked Ash because it is a very open-pored wood and the grain will stand out when finish was applied.  I will point this out on one of the final pictures.

the Ash before ripping
the Ash before ripping
the thin rips stacked on themselves
the thin rips stacked on themselves

After the wood was cut into 3/16" thin strips, I then glued 9 strips to make 1 large bend.  Below, you can see me gluing the strips and wrapping them with heavy duty stretch wrap (to help serve as a clamp) before putting them around my form.  With 12 different sized bends on the taller table and 10 bends on the smaller one, I decided to built an adjustable bending table so that I could adjust the radius for each bend without having to build 12 different forms.

the adjustable bending table with 2 different sized "C" curved shapes
the adjustable bending table with 2 different sized "C" curved shapes
I went through a gallon of glue after 22 bends (with 9 strips each)
I went through a gallon of glue after 22 bends (with 9 strips each)
wrapping up a bend... will get to pick the glue off of my hands later :-)
wrapping up a bend... will get to pick the glue off of my hands later :-)
slowly bending the wood around my form
slowly bending the wood around my form
waiting for glue to dry...
waiting for glue to dry...

This was the process for just 1 bend.  I did this 21 more times (ok, 22 more times...

After I took the bends out of the forms, I planed, scraped, and sanded them.  After they were all complete, I stacked them to see if all my math had worked out...

the 2 tables in very rough form
the 2 tables in very rough form

I then started playing with the spacers to see where I would position them...

testing different orientations for the small spacers
testing different orientations for the small spacers
making the spacers
making the spacers

I made a template to create a continuous curve for the spacers (above). For each table, I glued one bend at a time, using several bends below it to serve as clamping pressure for the spacers.

gluing up one table
gluing up one table

Now the real fun began... using an angle grinder and then a lot of sandpaper, I shaped the continuous curve starting with the inside of each table first, and then the outside. Below is a picture after just a few passes of the angle grinder.

just beginning to carve the inside curve
just beginning to carve the inside curve

...you can see the transformation from blocky, angular forms to smooth, subtle curves.

the spacers glued up, before shaping
the spacers glued up, before shaping
after some grinding
after some grinding
finally getting smooth
finally getting smooth

The coffee table ("Through the Looking Glass") is complete.  Here are the final steps in shaping and finishing and then some final shots :)

carving the bends
carving the bends
one bend complete, one not
one bend complete, one not

In the above photo, the right, smaller table has been completely shaped and sanded. The left, taller table has not. The two tables were designed to be different heights so that one piece of glass could fit inbetween the bends and the two glass tops would overlap.

Now the finishing process begins...

before staining
before staining
with one stained
with one stained
before the liming wax was applied
before the liming wax was applied
after liming wax was applied
after liming wax was applied

The excess liming wax was then scrubbed off with several coats of oil. Finally, polyurethane was applied to give a high gloss shine. This effect was a time-consuming process, but well worth the effort.

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with one stained #2IMG_6546-2I wanted to have nice, flowing curves that started and stopped in a perfectly vertical plane. This gives the illusion that the two tables are actually one when they are put together.

IMG_6558-2The tables can come together in a variety of ways, giving you the flexibility to customize the way they look.   The lines and the negative space work well together, creating shadows that are just as unique as the tables themselves.

IMG_6479IMG_6527-2IMG_6517-2They can even pull apart to serve as separate end tables.

IMG_6487And the best photos of all... the ones of the table in Patrick's home.  What a joy it was to deliver them, to set them up, and then to have a wonderful night of beer, games, laughs, and friends around them :)

the table in Patrick's house
the table in Patrick's house
love the shadows of his lights
love the shadows of his lights

ahhhh, finally the table is put to good use :)

finally being put to use!

**A special thanks to Amanda Lass for the amazing final photos of this piece.  To see more of her photography, go to:  http://alass.zenfolio.com/