Pocket hole joinery is nothing new, it's been around for many years and still remains a strong, viable option for creating all sorts of woodworking projects. It's very versatile and can be used from everything from jig making to custom furniture making. One of it's greatest assets is the fact that you can disassemble pocket hole joinery in order for fix or modify it and put it back together easily. After the holes are drilled, assembly can be very quick because it's a simple matter of using the special wide head screws to put things together.
In our case we are making an entry way table and part one is making the legs and frame. The wood we are using is kiln dried red alder, a super wood to work with, easy on the tools, hard enough to make fine furniture, and takes most finishes with ease.
The first step in making anything is to determine sizes, and for our project we elected to use square legs 1.5" square by 32" high. The apron for the table would be 5.5" wide and other than the legs and some drawer parts, everything else would be 3/4" material. The lower stretchers for the table would be 2" high, enough to support a small shelf.
The drawers are veneered on the front to match a veneering that will be happening on the table top.
And of course the last component is to put a top on this carcass and so we decided to laminate a veneer on to MDF and then add some natural wood edges to really make it "pop" and this is what our finished table looks like.
The table will have a partial veneered top over 3/4 MDF material, which will also be edged with natural alder strips to help offset the beauty of the veneer that was supplied to us by Oakwood Veneer, and I must brag a bit for them, I have found them excellent to deal with and providers of outstanding veneer products and knowledge to match.
We could have made this unit with only one center drawer, but opted to be a bit more complicated by making 2 drawers in this relatively small space and facing them with the same veneer material as the top to make them really pop.
Leg and Carcass Making
To Make the legs we simply glued 2 strips of 3/.4" alder material together. This is an old trick practiced at length by some of the most famous furniture makers in the past 100 years, so if it worked for them we could certainly try it. We decided to make a small taper on the bottoms of the legs, of only about the bottom 6 inches and the variance on the jig amounted to 2 degrees. If you are attempting to use a tapering jig on a table, make SURE you are solid and comfortable with it, these can be dangerous jigs to use so make sure you are fully aware of what you are doing.
Making the legs and all other parts is pretty simple, all square edges with know sizes. After all the parts are made, the next thing to do is to drill pocket holes in them. This is tedious, but the next step, the assembly makes up for this.
Once all the holes are drilled, there is little left to do except assembly of the leg system, using pocket hole screws. I always use a square edge jig for assemble as it warns me if any of my joints might be off. All that is need then, is to drive the screws into the pocket holes and assemble the table leg carcass.
Waking drawers always seems difficult, but it really isn't. It's basically another box, just put together a bit differently. For small drawers I seldom bother with dovetail corners unless it is for the look. A small drawer will not be holding a lot of weight so dovetail or boxjoint corners would be primarily for the look. In this case we made a simple, tried & true drawer. The first thing is to work out your sizes so you need to know what thickness or wood the sides, ends and bottom will be. I like half inch for the sides and 3/4 for the front and back, which is what we did in this case. Once we know the thickness of the sides we can work out what the front and back will be then cut a rabbet to accept the side pieces of the drawer. Before assembly you will also need to run a dado around all the inside parts of the drawer sides and front, you can do the back too, but will want to cut away the dado before assembly to slide the drawer bottom into place. I always use plywood for the bottoms of drawers. It is sturdy and stable, perfect for drawer bottoms. Once all the sides are attached, glued and dry, you can simply slide the bottom into place. I never glue the bottom, but allow it to move. The only place the drawer bottom needs to be attached is at the back of the drawer, from underneath.
Most of my experience in veneering is with a vacuum press, so using contact cement is a bit new to me. The reason I elected to use this method is because most people do not have a vacuum press. Although contact cement is not quite as good as cold press veneering, it still produces and excellent, long lasting result, and it's easy to do.
I discovered that gel contact cement is best. Of course I had to try a liquid and found it was messy and didn't work near a well, so take a lesson from my challenges and look for the get contact cement.
As you can see from the video, it's pretty easy. Coat both pieces and let the glue dry for at least 20 minutes, then be careful when you lay it on, Contact cement is none-forgiving. If you get the two pieces on crooked, you have now created firewood. There is no way of getting the two apart without severely damaging the veneer.
The last step in veneering is to use a lot of force to help make sure the two pieces are bonded by using what is called veneer hammer, which is basically a rounded over tool that resembles a putty knife with a very dull edge, that you can press hard on the veneer to make sure it is bonded ... and that's it ... done.
Of course there are many, many different products that can be used for finishing. In recent years I have abandoned most of the traditional finishes I have been using for year, and opted for some of the more natural and eco-friendly finishes that are primarily based on vegetable oils and waxes like Osmo, and more recently I have been using Saicos. Both of these products are food safe and are used on hardwood floors so that really tells it all as far a quality goes. I like Saicos because it dries quicker and often allows me a chance to put on 2 coats in one day (usually) and the finish I get is stunning. Not a high gloss, which I don't like anyway (I always feel high gloss glare masks the look of the wood) I look for satin finish, that is something with a bit of sheen but that does not obscure the detail of the wood, but enhances it.
And that ... is the hallway or entry way table done. A great project that will serve many, many years of handy usage.
Copyright - Colin Knecht