A collection of discarded old Tasmanian oak shelving and beams came my way from a recent refurbishment at the school where I work. With a bit of re-dressing these have proved ideal for the new coffee table top. The age of the timber almost guarantees there will be a minimum of shrinking, warping, or twisting after it has been built. It is also extremely tough and hard, so it should cope easily with the knocks and abuse it will undoubtedly be subject to in the future.
Best of all, it is real timber, not the MDF or veneered ‘furniture’ we are subjected to in furniture shops. Nor am I aiding and abetting the pillage of our dwindling rainforests. I’m recycling timber that would otherwise have been destined for the fire.
Of course using recycled timber means accepting some flaws, such as the odd nail or bolt hole, and the dimensions are dictated by the material available, rather than the design. I regard both of these aspects as part of the challenge that makes the project interesting. In fact, small flaws add character to the piece. You appreciate that this is not some massproduced item; it is unique with a history of its own.
The industrial look
For the legs I chose a pair of leaf springs, inverted to raise the table to a suitable height. These imparted the industrial
“Of course using recycled timber means that some flaws cannot be removed”
look I wanted. I realise my choice of legs and a heavy timber top have made for a very heavy coffee table but it’s a price I was willing to pay. Hopefully, it will not have to be moved around much.
My first task was to dress the three main boards that comprise the bulk of the top to achieve a uniform thickness of 18mm. I then used a Festool and