The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Trapezoid Table

My wife saw a trapezoid table she liked, but she wanted me to make it in oak to match her other décor.

I took measurements from this table she liked, then inputted the design into Google Sketchup. 

The model table had slots cut into each leg at 45 degrees for the shelves. I did not like this design and am using a small 1 inch high piece on the ends to support each shelf. The model table is particle board, and does not have to account for much movement with humidity changes. My design will be solid oak and will accommodate the humidity changes.

The surprising thing to me was that the table legs were not a square cross-section.

They must be angles cross-sections, if you want the horizontal pieces to have 90 degree ends and tenons.  This wasn't obvious when I measured the model table. The angle works out to 5.4 degrees.

Fancy Table Top Edge

The model table has some fancy edging on the table top.  I have quite a few router bits, but nothing that fancy.  I went to MLCS and found a couple to try out.  I ordered them to try.




Fancy Leg Beading

The model table also had some fancy edge beading.  I have a router bit I bought when I did my son's long table, which I will use on this project.


I will be using red oak on this table from Menards.


I will be using the same stain on this project that I used on other furniture for my wife:


Mortise Pattern

Because I was making 8 legs, I made a pattern for the mortise layouts using 3/16" Luan.


Mortise Set-Up on Drill Press

It takes about 15 minutes to set up this tooling, including setting the drill depth.


 I initially had 3/8" mortises, but I decided to go with 1/4".  I have tooling for 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" mortises.

I did the 1st leg as a trial test.  I found the mortises were the wrong angle with respect to the leg.  When you set the leg on the drill press, it "locates" on the bottom of the leg, which is a different angle than the top that you are mortising

The easy fix was to saw a 1.5 inch wide of scrap pine wood with a 5.4 degree angle. You place the scrap under the piece you want to mortise, then you get the right angle on top.

Thank goodness I did a trial piece versus making all 8 legs wrong!!  That is why you do trial runs.

Making Tenons on the Table Saw

Remember that the edge of the blue masking tape is where to set-up this fixture for 1/4" thick tenons.  3 passes are required using a single blade versus setting up a dado set of blades.


Rough Assembly using Merlin steel band clamp

I tried the Merlin clamp once, but found it very difficult to set-up for one person. But in this case, I could set the Merlin assembly on the work top, then set the table inside of the band. Gravity holds the 4 Merlin clamps in position, so it works ok for this application.


Lots of pieces required

Here is all the pieces, except the top and 2 shelves, to build one table........

Lots of Scrap from the Table Saw

Here is the pile of scrap pieces left from table sawing operations for 2 tables......


Sawing the table tops at the 5.4 degree angle

Using Google Sketchup, I printed off a full-scale paper pattern for the table top. I then marked the 2 angles on the table top.

I set the miter gage at about 5 degrees.

On the first table saw cut, I intentionally sawed wide of the final saw line.  After you make this cut, your eye can tell if the distance from the saw cut to the pencil line is parallel or not.  If not parallel, you can tweak the miter gage, and make another trial cut.  I was surprised at how well the final saw cut matched the pencil line.

Deciding on Decorative Edge for Table Tops

I did lots of experimenting with the 2 new router bits noted above.  I focused on the double ogee and bead bit noted above.  I really wasn't happy with any of the results from this bit feeding the board horizontal on the router table. Then I decided to try feeding the board vertical into this bit........and it gave me the look I wanted.

Here is the sample piece I developed the process with........



 I had to use the Dremel to make the hole a little bigger for the bit, in my 40 year old Sears router table.  I used the edge shown in the sample above for the 2 table tops.

I did the red oak table tops in 1 pass and had no issues with burning the wood. Of course, this was a brand new carbide bit, this might have helped reduce the burn level.

 You can see the end result in this photo..........


Design Decision on Shelves and Expansion/Contraction

At this point, I had the table frame glued up and done except for the shelves.  If I cut the shelves to match the legs, then there is zero room for the inevitable expansion and contraction of the wood.

I googled all the design options, and decided to just make an 1/8" gap between each leg and the shelf.  This gives a 1/4" of total available expansion for the shelves. Given the width of the shelf boards, this should be adequate.

I put the shelf blank under the table.  I used a clamp to make the spread at the bottom of the legs equal to the top spread.  I marked the leg cut-outs with a pencil. Then I added 1/8" on both sides of the cut-out.

 I tried the band-saw to make the cut-outs, but it gave too much wood burn. I switched to the scroll saw, which gave no wood burn.

Steel Table Top Fasteners

I put one screw in the center of the shelf to try to divide the expansion into each side. Then I used steel table top fasteners to allow for movement. You saw the groove 7/16 from the edge when you use these. The screws also keep the legs together and not allowing the shelf to slip out of the table top fasteners.

I used the table top fasteners to hold the table top to the frame also.

Ready for final sanding and finishing


I used a 1/2" wide brush to help me get the stain into the cracks and crevices, then a rag to rub it out. I put a small finishing nail temporarily into each leg, to keep it off the work table when I stain and/or varnish it.  I pull out the nails when done.


And here are the 2 tables after their 1st coat of stain........Spanish Oak.......

 Grain Filler

I used Behlen's grain filler on the table tops and shelves.

This process is:

1. stain wood

2. stir up Behlen grain filler using paint stirrer in drill press at lowest speed.
     Add paint thinner if necessary to get a liquid consistency.

3. Apply Behlen grain filler using your fingers.

4. Let set for 10 minutes, then scrape off excess at 45 degrees to grain using
    behlen plastic card or old credit card.

5. Rub off excess using burlap rag.

6. Let dry over-night

7. Sand with 220 grit

8. re-stain

9. do 3 rounds of 220 grit sanding and gloss polyurethane


Here is appearance after you apply the Behlens.............


Here is appearance after drying over night...................


 Here is appearance after re-staining..........

Finished Tables




The next photo shows the leg beading and table top edge designs I used........


The next photo shows the bottom of the tables and my signature..........

Closing Thoughts


  • I had a lot of trouble with burning the 1.5" thick red oak on the table saw when cutting the leg angles.  My Freud blade may have too much pitch or residue on it, or it might be getting dull. It saws 3/4" thick red oak fine. I had to sand out the saw burn using the drum sander on the drill press. I had very little burn when making 90 degree cuts on 3/4" red oak on the table saw.
  • leg angles drove me nuts.  Found it best to start with 1.5x1.5 inch square leg blank.  Saw 5 degree angles, flip fence back and force on either side of blade to do it.  My sketchup drawing is not correct because end leg is more than 1.5x1.5
  • I also had problems doing the mortises on the drill press. Found out I had to saw a 5.4 degree spacer and put it under the leg, so the surface being mortised was 90 degrees to the spindle.






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