PREPARATION - Tools, Selecting the Timber.



Essential Tools:

Hand or power saw, cordless screwdriver, power drill, 3 sash cramps suitable for the width of your coffee table, power sander, high speed steel drill bits, tape measure, straight edge, combination square, 2 G cramps. You will need a long series H.S.S. drill the right size to drill pilot holes for the gauge of 4" screw you buy. You will also need a drill of the exactly the same diameter as the dowel that you choose. You could use a flat bit for this, but I would advise using a H.S.S. bit as flat bits tend to wander off line, especially when drilling into end grain.

Optional additional tools to make the project quicker/easier/better:

Biscuit jointer, chop saw, belt sander, planer thicknesser.

WARNING: Make sure you comply with all the safety rules specified by the manufacturer when using any power tools or machines.

In addition to the tools specified, you will need a flat level surface bigger than the size of your coffee table both for cramping up the top and for checking the coffee table for level at the end.


Twisted timber.I have specified door lining for the top and rails as it is notoriously difficult to find planed pine from builders and timber merchants that is straight. Door linings are generally more likely to be straight.

Even so, when you buy the timber, be sure to hold one end up and look down it on both faces to check for straightness. Even more important is to check for wind or twist. To check that do the following: hold one end of the timber up with the far end resting on the ground. Gradually bring the end up level with your eyes, if it is twisted it will look like the diagram on the right. The far end of the timber is not parallel with the end nearest your eye. By lifting the timber slightly more so that the ends are almost exactly in line you will be able to discern even the slightest twist. If my experience is anything to go by, you may find that you will have to go through the whole batch of timber to find a few straight boards.

When you have collected your materials make sure that the timber is stored on a flat and level surface whilst you are working on the project otherwise the effort of picking straight timber will have been wasted.

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