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Woodwork 

Winter 2013-2014

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Café Table

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Café Table

Transform rugged Australian jarrah into a graceful outdoor table.

By Tom Caspar

Picture yourself at a small, round café table with a cup of coffee and a newspaper. The world goes by along a busy boulevard. People are hurrying about their business, but you’re an island of calm in a crazy world. Although your backyard may not be quite that busy, you can enjoy the same tranquility with this outdoor table.

This table is just the right size for one person to spread out the Sunday paper, or for two people to have lunch. It has three feet instead of four, so it sits firmly on an uneven deck or terrace. It has a turned central column instead of legs, so you can comfortably stretch out your legs.

The table is made from jarrah, a weatherproof wood from Australia that’s strong and durable. White oak would be a good alternative. Total material costs are about $500.

The table consists of four major parts: the top and cleats, made from 6/4 lumber, and the column and base, made from 8/4. Tackle the bottom half first, beginning with the column.

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Glue up 8/4 lumber to make the column. A cavity runs down the middle for a threaded rod that holds the table together. Blocks at the ends of the cavity will be used to mount the column on the lathe.

Click on each image to see a larger version.


Even up the ends of the column and make them slightly concave with a parting tool.This concave end will always sit tight on the base.


Cut the corners of the base on a tablesaw, using a plywood sled.To set up the cut, place one edge of a plywood square along the layout line and screw the plywood to the base.The saw fence is set to the width of the square. Saw guard removed for photo clarity. Use yours!


Follow the curve of a bent bow to finish laying out the base.Make the bow from two strips held together with duct tape. A notched bar creates the arc.



Rout mortises into the ends of the base. Loose tenons will join the feet and base together.


Glue the foot onto the base using a clamping block. The block won’t split under pressure if it’s made of two pieces: a thin piece of plywood screwed and glued to an ogee-shaped piece of pine.


Cut 60-degree miters on six ringsegment blanks.Two miter gauges spanned by a fence make a rigid jig. Each miter gauge was set up with a plastic drafting triangle. Saw guard removed for photo clarity. Use yours!


Tighten one bar clamp to glue up the ring. Stop blocks clamped to a stiff board keep the ring from spreading under pressure.


Scribe the gap between the inner boards and the rings with a compass. Spacers keep the gaps uniform during layout. All the parts of the top will be supported by stout cleats.














This story originally appeared in 
American Woodworker June 1999, issue #73


June 1999, issue #73

Purchase this back issue.