The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Stickley style end table

The April 2012 issue of Woodworker's Journal has a plan for a Stickley hall table.  The table design looked very good, so I started to build it.


Wood Selection

Red oak is my usual wood of choice. I was running low on inventory, so I sent to Menards in Bloomington to restock. I usually buy the 3/4x5.5x72 inch red oak in nice sealed plastic.....which is running about $18 before sales tax.....or about $.06 per cubic inch (based on actual board size, not nominal size).

I decided to wander around the wood area before loading up my 8 red oak boards, when I noticed a cubbyhole with a bunch of long red oak 3/4" thick boards of random widths. They were on sale through March 14, 2014........and the price worked out to only $.03 per cubic inch....about half of what I normally pay. I loaded up the pick-up with 8 boards, with lengths from 8 feet to 10 feet.  What a relative bargain:)

Making the table top

When I cut the boards to make the 29.75 inch diameter table top, I notice that this will be a really big table. After consulting with my wife, she pointed out she can easily find a place for a 20 inch diameter 26 inch tall end table......she could not easily find a place for the bigger 30 inch diameter hall table.

So, I switched gears. I kept the grooved legs and the feet of the hall table design, but I changed the top diameter from 29.75 to 20 inches, and the height to 26 inches.  I used Google Sketchup to come up with the new design.

One of the reasons the original Stickley hall table looks like a neat design, is that it the top is low and the base is wide.  To make it an end table, I can not keep the same ratio and meet the 20 inch diameter and 26 inch height requirement for my wife..........for an end table.  I think the table will still look nice when done.

Method for making grooves in legs

I agree with the article's author the first step is to make a jig for your drill press, then drill out the hole diameter you want (he used 1/2" for his bigger hall table, I'm using 3/8" diameter for my scaled down end table).  You need the jig so the holes are exactly the same location when routing them out.

The author then suggest routing a small size bit in one pass through the center of the groove (3/8 for his 1/2 grooves). Then slightly moving the router fence and make 2 more passes using the 3/8" bit to make the final 2 edges of each groove.

I tried this approach using a 1/4" bit for my final size 3/8" grooves.  It did not work well. It is very difficult to adjust the fence accurately on my old Sears router table.

My normal approach would be to route the final size groove you want, but use 3 or 4 depths to cut through.  I ended up using this approach to finish my table legs.

 Making Blanks

I glued up the blanks to make the top and the shelf......

I used the trammel attachment on my router to make perfectly round circles. I used a 1/4" carbide bit.  For the last year or two, I have had trouble with the bit sliding out on the router. My guess is that the collet is worn out after 30+ years of use. On this job, the bit fell out many times. Then it got really tough to loosen the collet nut, to the point I slipped and knicked my hand :(


I made a temporary jig in my drill press. I set it up to drill a small bit through the exact same spot on every leg.  Then I could drill from both sides in with a Forstner bit, to not break out any material on the outside of the leg.



Feet for Legs

I bought one piece of thicker oak at Menards to make the feet. I did not want to glue up 2 pieces of 3/4" thick stock, then have the glue line show on the feet.


These feet are too small of pieces to saw the angles on the table saw. I used the scroll saw to cut some.........others I used the 60 grit drum sander on the drill press to make.  Then I put the leg into the vise, and used a bar clamp to hold the feet in place while I screwed them on.  I used the Kreg drill bit to drill them first, then used 1-1/4" Kreg screws......


The circa 1982 Sears Router Quit

The author of the story said he nailed a small guide temporarily onto the shelf bottom, then used a straight guided router bit to make the 4 straight sections for the legs.  I tried this method, and it worked ok on the first 3 cuts.  Then my old router started making sparks and excessive noise. It was burning up and shot.



I went online and bought a new Sears 2 Hp router for $80........






The good news is that the new router has the standard 3-hole bolt pattern, so it fits my old router table and other attachments fine :)

2 cross-pieces under the table top

I cut the 2 notches using the radial arm saw.  For the 2 holes across the grain, that attach the cross-piece to the table top..I made 2 slotted holes using the Kreg drill bit in the drill-press......

 I used the Kreg jig to drill the 2 cross-pieces to accept the 4 legs.....

I also used the Kreg fixture to drill holes in the shelf to attach to the legs.......

Table Done Except Sanding and Finishing

Stay tuned as I finish this project........

 Final Sanding before stain

Although the pattern shows a sharp edge on the table top, my wife asked me to slightly round it I used a 1/8" carbide round-over bit in the router table.

I then used the pencil technique at all glued joints on the shelf and identify any spots where the glue joint pieces were not flush.  I sanded the pencil marks away using the belt sander using 60 grit. I then orbital sanded the shelf and top using the orbital sander with 220 grit.  I sanded the shelf and top edges using a drum sander on the drill press at 220 grit.

I also used the 220 grit drill press drum sander to sand the 4 legs.

 My wife wanted the stain color to match other existing tables, so I chose Spanish Oak oil based stain. I wiped it on and off with a red shop towel.

Here are the stained pieces......

Behlen's Grain Filler

I decided to use Behlen's grain filler on the top and make a smoother surface. I left my old paint stirrer at my son's house, but found a new one. You must stir it up each time you use it because it settles out so quickly.

I will wipe it on with my fingers, then let set for 10 minutes.  Then I wipe across the grain using burlap from McMaster-Carr to remove the excess. Then I sand to 220 grit, and apply stain again.

Final Varnishing

I did 4 rounds of 220 grit and polyurethane on the table shelf and top. I hung the legs on a 3/8" diameter dowel to dry, which worked well. I just stuck the dowel between my sawhorse and scrap piece of white plywood......



 New Hand Tool

I was using a portable electrical drill and the square driver from the Kreg set to drive in the Kreg screws.  It is easy to over-turn these screws into red oak.  I bought a screwdriver with a #2 square drive to finish screwing them in by hand.  It worked well.


The Finished Table



Concluding Thoughts

I would have liked to try a lighter stain, but this was a special request from my wife.

On the next table, drill the slot ends in the legs with a 3/8" bit, then use a 3/8" router bit with about 3 passes to cut the slot. The article author's method of first removing some stock with a smaller bit did not work for me.

Use a hand screw-driver to finish drive in the square drive Kreg screws versus a battery powered drill. It is too easy to strip the wood using the battery powered drill.

All-in-all, the table turned out very nice.  The Behlen's grain filler gave a very smooth finish to the table top and shelf.





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