Home > Cherry Coffee Table > Cherry Coffee Table – The shelf

Cherry Coffee Table – The shelf

The reason that I like to build this table is the shelf and through mortises. In the original project by Paul Sellers he talked about the amount of practice that the large number of mortise snd tenons provide. He is absolutely correct snd since doing the first piece I have no fear of this joint whether produced by hand or machine.

The shelf is a great opportunity to think about selection of wood and matching as much as possible. The pieces I select have all come from a single board. It is not as easily viewed as the top but it definitely draws the eye. Once the wood is selected the outer shelf rails must be fitted to the lower end rails. These are done with through mortise and tenons in the same fashion as the through mortises on the legs. This can be a challenging fit and my advice is to assemble the table and place the shelf side rails on top of the side rail for marking. This is most easily done with the table in clamps.

Once the rails were marked the tenons were cut to match the mortises (cut in a similar fashion to the previous blog). A few things to think about as you are doing this. The table needs to be clamped and all of the angles checked to make sure it is in its final position. I actually had to put a clamp diagonally across to make a slight adjustment. Exact marking and measurement will be essential. There are many joints to come and getting these four correct will make things much easier.

Once the tenons are cut, they must be fitted into the side rail. If all goes well you will end up with a tight joint.

Once the two outer rails are in place and the fits have been adjusted, lay out the remainder of the shelf pieces and mark them.

Maybe I’m unusual but I really enjoy matching all these parts and getting the fit perfect. Also its ok to make a mistake here, I actually ended up cutting a board short and had to make another.

Categories: Cherry Coffee Table
  1. Andrew
    September 12, 2022 at 6:58 am

    I made this table 4 years ago or so, you really start cookin’ on chopping those mortises by the last couple on the shelf. I had just started woodworking that year so I was pretty tickled in the test fit at each step of the build, the table took so much effort to come back apart, it was really eye opening at how much mechanical joints can do before you lock it together with glue. I think these tables will last forever.

    • September 12, 2022 at 9:21 pm

      This table is a tremendous confidence builder and as you say looks great and will last forever. Thanks for commenting

  2. September 12, 2022 at 8:27 pm

    The joinery stage and dry-fitting as you go is the most satisfying part. This looks beautiful so far.

    • September 12, 2022 at 9:22 pm

      AS you say the joinery is very satisfying and even when I do most of them by machine I save one to do by hand.

      • September 13, 2022 at 6:40 pm

        Yes – I use the machines where they are more accurate or to avoid the drudgery like jointing or planing, but I take a certain pride in saving the details of the joinery for a chisel or a saw blade.

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