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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 tranquillity 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.


The column

The column is made from four pieces, with a cavity between them that houses a threaded rod. Cut all four pieces a bit longer than the finished length of the column. Orient the two largest pieces so their heart sides (the sides nearest the center of the tree) face away from each other (Fig. B). This keeps the glue joints tight if the boards cup, since most boards cup away from the heart.

Use a weatherproof glue, such as Franklin’s Titebond II, for all the joints in this table. Spread it on the column pieces with a small paint roller and clamp with moderate pressure (Photo 1). Let it dry overnight. Then take the blank to the bandsaw to slim down the central section before turning (Fig. B).

Add four short pieces of wood to the top and bottom of the column to increase its diameter. The growth rings of these pieces should go the same direction as the wood that they’re glued to. Cut off the outside corners of the four pieces at 45

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