Jim’s building furniture?

I might have mentioned a while back that Debra bought me a one-year membership to TechShop for Christmas last year. She also gave me a gift certificate for five classes. The way TechShop works, a member has to take a class covering Safety and Basic Use before using most of the equipment. The five classes I’ve taken so far are Wood Shop SBU (covers table saw, bandsaw, sander, drill press), Jointer, Planer, and Router, Wood Lathe, Laser Cutter, and Sandblasting and Powder coating.

Since January I’ve spent lots of time at TechShop, mostly cutting up logs for carving wood. I have a bandsaw at home, but it can’t cut material thicker than six inches, and its throat depth is something less than twelve inches. The bandsaw at TechShop can cut a twelve-inch-thick log, and has a much deeper throat. I can cut bigger stuff on their bandsaw.

In late August, I saw that my neighbor who owns a handyman business had a trailer full of wood. It turns out that he had removed an old cedar fence and deck for a client, and was going to haul the wood off to the dump. I spent six hours pulling nails, and drove home with a truckload of reclaimed lumber. Then I got busy making things.


I had seen an American flag made from old fencing, and wanted to make one. Given that I now had plenty of old fence to play with, I cut a bunch of one-inch strips, painted them up, and glued them back together. The result is this flag, which is 13 inches tall and 25 inches wide, matching the official width to height ratio of 1.9.


I’ve since made two others that size, and one smaller. Then I stepped up to 1.5 inch strips to make a flag that’s 19.5″ x 37, and got the crazy idea that it’d look better in a coffee table than it would hanging on the wall. So, blissfully ignorant of what I was getting into, I set about building a coffee table.

The only thing I’d built from scratch before was that oval table, and it got covered with a tablecloth. Besides, all I did was slightly modify a work table plan that I found online. I designed this table myself, and set the goal of making from 100% reclaimed wood. I’ll save the step-by-step instructions for another time. Suffice it to say that it took me an absurdly long time and a lot of mistakes to finish constructing it. But the result is, I think, very nice.


The table is 17.5 inches tall, and measures approximately 42″ x 26″. The only wood on it that’s not reclaimed is the eight dowels used to hold the apron together.

Mind you, the table is constructed, but it’s not finished. The flag is recessed about 1/8 inch below the border. I’m going to fill that space with epoxy resin. Most likely, the resin will also flow over the border to protect it. I’ll use an oil finish, probably something like tung oil.

I couldn’t build just one table, though. So shortly after I finished that one I made a Texas state flag. Last night I completed construction of my Texas table, which measures about 42″ x 30″, and is also 17.5 inches tall. It’s wider than the other table due to the Texas flag’s width-to-height ratio of 3 to 2. So a 36 inch wide flag is 24 inches tall.


This table, too, has the flag recessed, and the space will be filled with epoxy resin.

The construction of the Texas table is a little different than the first one. Most importantly to me, I constructed the apron with finger joints rather than using dowels at the corners. That allows me to say that the table is 100% reclaimed wood. Plus, the finger joints are easier. Dowels are a pain in the neck.

I’m going to make at least one more of each of these tables, probably using the Texas table design. But before I do that I need to work on a project for Debra. That one’s going to be especially fun because I’ll get to play with the ShopBot. Once I take the class, that is.


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