I must admit I never thought it would take 3 parts to walk through this process. As I started to write I found myself leaving out what I thought were important steps in the process. So in an attempt to find a balance between providing the details you have been asking about but also trying not to overwhelm, here we are at part 3.
After getting the carcass assembled it was time to move on to the fold down playstations. Like I mentioned in part 1 I wanted to focus on standardizing the playstations to provide a more aesthetically pleasing appearance when the table is closed up. While the design’s focal point is the radiused corners, it is the playstations that make this a great gaming table. The premise seemed pretty easy at first glance but got a little more complicated as I progressed. It took several attempts to get the correct angle, height, and hinge length to get the playstations to fold down properly, line up, and maintain their integrity when closed. After figuring out the correct orientation for the pivot plates I had to make 10 sets of them. The fold-down shelf is attached to the top of these pivot plates with half-blind dovetails so that meant 20 dovetails needed to be cut also.
With the fold downs completed it was time to move on to the drawers. In my design, every workstation gets a drawer. In this case, we decided to use Cherry as an accent wood so I constructed the drawer box sides and back out of Cherry and connected them to the front with a through dovetail to highlight the accent. The drawers are already pretty small so there is no type of glide used. I am not a fan of wood on wood sliding regardless of how small the parts are so I lined the bottom of the drawer sides with a convex tape that reduces friction and will help ensure the piece last for generations.
Next, I moved onto the false fronts. These can also double as a shelf when installed into the rail attachment groove in the side rail. Again keeping in mind the importance of grain continuity all of the fronts along each side and end were cut from the same board. These false fronts snap in and out via spring loaded bullet pins that fit into an accommodating groove on the side of the false fronts. All that was left to do was to route the profile that we use for our rail attachment system and the fronts were completed.
The only milling process left was to make the leaves. I left the glued up panels in their rough stage until it was time to make the leaves. I prefer to mill the leaves and get them sealed on the same day to help reduce any possible wood movement. The first step was to flatten the panels and reduce their thickness to ⅞”. Then with the table closed up I measured for the leaf length and cut them to size. At this point, I have a very good feel for the color and graining of the table and leaves. It is important to the finished product to layout the leaves on top of the table and arrange them for the best grain appearance and color matching. After labeling the order of the leaves I trimmed them to width and milled the tongue and grooves. At this point, all of the major construction has been completed and it is time to start the finishing process.
At the end of construction, I was at about 100 hours into the table which left me about 20 hours for finishing if my initial time projection was correct.
Finishing always starts with every woodworker's favorite pastime of sanding...not really everyone’s favorite. Every individual part of the table was sanded to 150 grit before it was installed on the table. I have found it can dramatically reduce the time spent on final sanding if each piece is sanded prior to assembly. I am often asked how fine a grit should a piece be sanded to before applying the finish. There is not a standard answer but most people will say to at least 220 grit if you are going to remove any visible scratches. Really the answer is dependent upon a number of factors including wood species, type of finish to be applied, and use of the piece. In this case, I only needed to sand down one more step to 220 grit. Historically I typically spend about 10% of the total build time just on this finish sanding stage, about 12 hours in this case.
Finally, it was time to move on to the true finishing stage. Being that this table was Sapele with a Natural finish the next step was to oil the entire table with Danish Oil. This is a step that very few people take the time or effort for but really enhances the grain characteristics of the Sapele. I won’t go too deep into the process but you can view a video of the process HERE. After applying the oil the table needs to set for several days and I continue to wipe it down daily during this time. After the oil has had time to set I went over any rough spots with an abrasive pad and prepared to apply 2 coats of sealer, sanding in between. After the second coat has dried the entire table is sanded with 320 grit sanding sponges and sent off to the finishing booth for its top coat. We use a 2K Polyurethane with a satin finish on all of our tables. You can read more about it in a previous blog found HERE. About another hour to install the hardware and the table was completed and ready for delivery.
As always feel free to ask any questions or post any comments.