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My first decent furniture project - Welding and woodwork combined

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  • My first decent furniture project - Welding and woodwork combined

    Hi all

    Its been almost 6 weeks since Norma and I moved back into our remodeled home and its no surprise that we still have boxes of stuff to unpack and organize. This will probably go on through until Christmas – just not sure Christmas of which year this will be! The good news though is that I’ve finally managed to clear out enough stored items from my small cluttered workshed to access my tools and the weather the past couple of weeks here in Central Mexico has blessed us with enough clear and sunny days to allow me to wheel out all of my mobile workstations onto the adjoining yard and give me some space to work.

    I noted in a previous post that I recently purchased a small MIG welder that I was anxious to try out to learn the ropes of wire welding and coupled with shouts out from Norma about the need to furnish the house with some modern looking furniture I came up with a suitable project for our living/dining room incorporating both woodwork and metal work in the form of a dining room table. After playing around with various ideas in a computer based 3D modeling program I use I finally settled on a simple but modern looking design which I felt was within my skill capabilities and workshop constraints which I liked which, importantly, Norma also approved. So here we go….

    The table measures 71”x 35” x 28 1/2” ht. The top is made from 15/16” thick Mexican oak planks with narrow edging boards underneath the table to give a visual thickness of 1 7/8”. It comfortably seats 6 which nicely fits the size of our living/diningroom. The ‘legs’ are 2 rectangle steel frames fabricated from 3” x 1 1/2” PTR 14 caliber steel with two longitudinal lengths of the same PTR joining them across the top to stop them splaying whilst adding further support to the table top. The finished table height was adjusted after I found that the standard height of 30” which I originally sized the frame to was a little on the high side for Norma and her family members. Its was a little bit frustrating to have to chop 1 1/2” out of the original metal frames but this what happens when you don’t take into account that you married into a family of hobbits!

    The top is secured to the frame with four 3” x 5/16” diam. bolts, drilled through wooden mounting blocks screwed to cross beams on the underside of the table, sturdy enough to do the job and making the top easy to remove should I ever need to take the table apart.

    The top is finished with an alcohol base maple coloured stain capped with 3 coats of a two component satin finish polyurethane varnish which gives an excellent durable finish. The table top has a definite orange tone to it which is a little stronger than I expected but I’m growing to like the end result which fits in well with the new modern look to our living/dining room and contrasts well against a set of denim blue sofas we recently purchased. The metal support frame is painted in a very dark grey color using a satin finish water-based alkyd urethane paint and topped off with a coat of the same polyurethane varnish I used for the top.

    The table is a really simple design and my only real challenge in making it was to accurately joint the boards. I don’t own a jointer so get around this problem, after rough cutting the boards to a size to run through my portable Dewalt planer, I jointed the long edges using my heavy duty router fitted with a ½” shank straight bit with an end bearing which I ran along a length of perfectly straight 2” square aluminum window frame profile clamped underneath the boards. This is a painfully slow way to joint wood but with patience and care it works. Surprisingly the joints turned out so good that I abandoned an initial idea I had to spline them together and just glued and clamped them together.

    After a few trial runs with my new MIG welder the welding of the PTR frame using flux core wire went much better than my usual stick welding. Flux core wire creates a lot of splatter but once the welds were cleaned up I was pretty pleased with the end result. I really like wire welding, so much so that my heavy duty stick welder is now up for sale!

    Note that the chairs shown in the photo are provisional from a 4 seater table we already own. The jury is out on whether we will look to buy a set of suitable chairs, whether I’ll stain these existing chairs a maple color, fit them with a padded seats and use them, or whether I’ll have a go at making my own chairs. I’d like to try designing and building my own but because of my limited workshop space and my current skill level I’m still undecided here.

    An added bonus at the end of the project….

    Since our local wood store doesn’t stock the best quality of material, particularly in the consistency of the color and grain, and the planks I purchased were not planed, which makes it hard to know just what you are buying, I ordered 2 planks more of the wood than I calculated I would need to ensure I had enough decent wood to give a pleasing end result. After making the table I found that I had enough reasonably good quality wood left over to make a matching low coffee table measuring 35” x 35” x 13” ht. which again has a metal support frame but this time made from 2x1” PTR steel. This table goes well with the lower than regular height of our sofas. I also had some smaller offcuts left over from which I made a small side table for the sofas measuring 12”x18”x23” ht. I just finished this today and after seeing it matched up to a sofa I think I am going to lower it another 1 1/2” once I get Norma’s approval.

    This project was my first real attempt at making some respectable looking furniture and the end result has fired me up to tackle more furniture needs around the house but to do this I definitely need a much bigger workshop, to invest in a jointer and also buy a professional table saw to replace my home-made one. I have a few ideas to hopefully realize these needs but these will have to wait until after the New Year to gel out.

    So that’s it. Mission accomplished!

    Here are a few photos. I have plans for the items if anyone is interested in making these tables or something similar, however note that all measurements given are in metric. Just leave a comment

    Constructive criticism welcome as always


    6 seater new01.jpg 6 seater new 02.jpg


    coffee table new.jpg

    side table.jpg
    Last edited by jim_mex; 12-01-2020, 06:35 PM.
    Jim in Mexico

    Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
    - Albert Einstein

  • #2
    Very nice.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm impressed. Nice welds and dressing of them. So professional!
      Linda at www.ArtIngrained.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Love the table and chairs. Our family has the opposite problem. The only adults under 6’ are me and my 2 sisters in law. The grandkids coming up are probably going to top out at over 6’. And of course, all tall people put everything on the very top shelf all the way in the back!
        Betty

        "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Linda - thanks for the comments on the welds. It took me an hour or so to get into the swing of MIG wire welding but I really like it in preference to stick welding especially for welding thinner material. I confess to investing in a new angle grinder to help with the cleanup and dressing. I bought a cordless Dewalt Flexvolt unit with a 9 amp battery. Its a beast and with the appropriate attachments it makes light work of sanding, grinding and cutting. I love it!
          Jim in Mexico

          Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
          - Albert Einstein

          Comment


          • #6
            Betty - Norma is 5ft 1", her sister who lives next door and often eats with us is 5ft 3". Their father who is recovering from recent knee surgery and staying with us at the moment is also about 5ft 3". I'm almost 5ft 11". You see my dilema!

            As to high cupboards. Making step stools is another of my woodworking activities!

            Norma's family was born in a nearby small town famous for working silver mines. It's a standing joke that when kids are born there they are bashed on the head with a shovel to ensure that they are small enough to enter the mine shafts. A story I delight in recounting to my darling wife!


            Jim in Mexico

            Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
            - Albert Einstein

            Comment


            • #7
              Good stuff Jim, congratulations on the finished product.

              Comment


              • #8
                Beautiful furniture pieces Jim. My husband was the original woodworker in our family and he mainly builds furniture pieces.
                Melanie from East TN

                Comment


                • #9
                  Very nice Jim. If you ever get up my way again you will have to give me some pointers.
                  Scott
                  Creator of fine designer sawdust.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Jim, I am very impressed! You really got the hang of the welder quickly. Love the design. I sold my MIG when I decided on the TIG. I regret that decision, but space was an issue. I have a bunch of spray cans that were being thrown out at work that were meant for spraying on a metal surface before welding it eliminates or makes it easy to remove spatter.
                    I also saw a welding video that showed flux core welding that pointed out that the polarity has a dramatic effect on the weld and spatter.
                    Rolf
                    RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
                    Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
                    Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
                    And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks all - you folks do wonders for my ego with your comments and importantly fire me up to keep trying new things

                      Scott - once this Covid situation has passed I'll definitely be heading up to NC. I'm tentatively thinking late spring/early summer next year. I am not sure just what pointers I can give you but I'll be more than happy to trade experiences.

                      Rolf - Several things helped me with the welder. The first, as you previously mentioned, was to watch through a ruck of youtube videos, particularly regarding the angles to position the contact tip for various types of welding. Second was to make sure that the areas to be welded were properly cleaned and prepped for welding and that the joints between the pieces to be welded were as closed as I could get them. Third, I invested in an automatic darkening welding helmet so that I could accurately position the contact tip and wire before I ran a weld without having to lift up and then down the visor. This investment probably has had the greatest impact on my work particularly as I do struggle a bit with depth of vision perception. Fourth, as I mentioned in my reply to Linda, paying attention to cleaning up the spatter and welds afterwards. Btw, I did look for the anti splatter spray locally but couldn't find it so instead I purchased an aggressive wire brush attachment for my angle grinder which makes short work of removing the splatter.

                      Ref the polarity. Yep, many make the mistake of getting that wrong when they first start MIG welding, including yours truly!!! It took me a more thorough read of the manual to figure that one out!

                      Btw - for tool freaks the model of the angle grinder I purchased is the Dewalt DCG418 and for anyone who needs a really good powerful cordless grinder, cutter and sander I can really recommend this unit. The only downside is the batteries are hellishly expensive.

                      Cheers!
                      Last edited by jim_mex; 12-03-2020, 10:25 PM.
                      Jim in Mexico

                      Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
                      - Albert Einstein

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The auto darkening helmet is a must have in my opinion, especially for the home hobby welders. if you are a pro and do it all the time maybe not.

                        Couldn't agree more Rolf. The helmet has been a game changer for me.
                        Last edited by jim_mex; 12-04-2020, 08:42 AM.
                        Rolf
                        RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
                        Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
                        Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
                        And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association

                        Comment

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