Milling the Legs and Top for Community Table

The next step in building this monster table was the legs. I opted to glue up 4 inch square blank rather than try and source a single 4×4 post. This let me incorporate some of the knots and rustic look of the white oak without sacrificing stability. After gluing up the legs, I planed them square; muscling these 35 pound blanks around was definitely a forearm workout!


After the leg blanks we glued, planed and cut to length, it was time to start laying out the stretchers between them. I chopped out some jumbo-sized dadoes on to connect the two legs together. This let me glue the the legs together and keep from using any visible fasteners, while taking less time than a through-mortise. I scribed the lines using a basic combination square, I like my 6″ Irwin Square for most work. The sides of the dado get cut, my table saw is a little too small to manages these pieces, so I used a hand saw. Any rigid back-saw will work, but I prefer a Japanese Dozuki style pull saw. After cutting the edges, all that is left is to chop out the waste with a sharp chisel and mallet. Make sure your chisels have a metal ring around the butt of the handle, like this Stanley Bailey Chisel set. The ring helps the handle hold up to repeated mallet strikes.


With the legs and stretchers glued, I could clean up the ends and glue squeeze out. That’s not glue on the bottom side… it’s sweat! The weekend I had to build this table was over 90 degrees, and the garage shop was a hot box in the mid-afternoon. At this point I also added a chamfer across the bottom of the legs, where they touch the ground. I also knocked off the corners at the edge of my dado to give a little detail and accent to the joinery.


Legs, plus a giant top… pretty much makes a table! With the random length boards for the top, gluing this panel up was a pain. I used pocket screws to pull the boards together end-to-end, making up long planks from multiple boards. With a lot of careful hand planing, I could glue each of these hybrid planks with a minimal glue joint. Lots of squeeze out though. I added each plank one by one, building up the panel from the center. I have a number of these 36″ Bessey Bar Clamps, but by the end, it took every long clamp I had to hold it all together!


Final steps on the top were to clean up the glue, with a good sharp chisel. I cut the ends square using a circular saw; nothing glamorous. Then it was time to sand. I really like my Bosch random orbit sander. The variable speed is nice, and lets you control how aggressive it is. I find a slower speed on higher grit paper keeps swirl marks to a minimum. I’ve found good luck using Mirka paper, and the price is right for 50 count boxes. I sanded the top to 180 grit, and it was time to assemble!



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