This table started with an e-mail from Kathy explaining that she wanted a custom coffee table built for her husband, Bill. She had a brass porthole that belonged to Bill’s father and wanted to it included in the table design.We made plans for Kathy to bring the brass porthole to my shop along with some pictures of a few table designs. Much to my surprise, the porthole weighed in at a whooping 49 lbs. We discussed some of the details that Kathy wanted in Bill’s table, including the table size and type of wood. She selected an Elm slab that I had on hand, it was the perfect size for this table. The Elm slab was recovered from a tree damaged in a recent  storm.   The goal was to have it done in time to surprise Bill for Christmas.

Elm Slab

Elm Slab

Based on Kathy’s descriptions and the dimensions of the  porthole, I  started the sketches. Sketches offer  the opportunity to compare notes and make the necessary changes simply by exchanging e-mails.

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Once the sketches were approved, I immediately started  building the table.  The legs and shelf were resawn to 7/8″  then planed and sanded to 3/4″. The Elm slab had a large bark inclusion, considering the weight of the brass porthole, I felt it best to remove the bark inclusion make a solid top.

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Here the top and legs are glued and will set overnight.

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The layout and cutout for the brass porthole. The inter circle will be cut all the way through the table top. The outer circle is recessed to allow the rim of the porthole to rest below the surface. This was necessary because the back of the rim was not flat. I had to remove wood in several spots so the porthole would sit flat. Brass screws secure the porthole to the table top.

kh test fit porthole 1   kh test fit porthole 2

The porthole has been fitted and leveled.



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The dado’s for the legs have been cut on the underside of the table top.



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Dry fitting the table before rounding all edges and finish sanding.

This table was finished with  per-catalyzed lacquer giving it a durable and easy to maintain finish. For more photos, check out the 우드슬랩 다리 Blog.

The finished custom Elm coffee table.

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