It’s only February but for me that means it’s time to start gearing up for the spring and summer projects. The summer of 2010 was the year of the gazebo build. The bulk of the work was completed before the snow set in last fall however there were still a few items remaining. The structure still needs a set of railings, a set of steps, and some furniture. The steps and the railings need to wait till the snow disappears so I guess the workshop is going to turn into a furniture fabrication shop.

The whole point of the gazebo build was to have a place to sit, relax, and eat good food therefore a table and set of chairs are in order. The chairs are going to get purchased. I have the ambition, drive, and technology to build the chairs, and I would love to do something unique, however I have not figured out a way to squeeze more then 24 hours into a day. In fact I don’t need more time I just need to figure out how to operate on less sleep. Anyway…too many tasks, not enough time so the chairs may get done at a very much later date. That leaves the table. Okay…now what? I have only had the last 4 months to come up with a game plan. Let me think…excuse…excuses…I got it. BBQ build, milling machine build, family, Christmas, my job, and all the “10 minute” (more like 2 hour) little jobs in between.

This is what I know for sure. I hate table legs. They always get in the way of the chair legs and people legs. I thought about using repulsorlift technology however shipping costs would be outragous and I’m on a budget. So I need to come up with something in between 4 legs and the repulsolift idea…got it, pedestal leg it is. I had left the center hexagon of the gazebo floor unfinished thinking I may have to bolt the table to the joists. A single round pedestal, maybe 6 inches in diameter, with some clean table supports welded on should take care of the southern end. The only criteria I had been given for the Northern side was it has to be round (that was a request by the woman who will be critiquing the work). I wanted something that would fit well within the nature theme so I settled on a leaf design.

The game plan…I started with a 4 x 8 sheet of construction grade ¾” spruce plywood. Pulled out the woodworking tools and routered out a 48” diameter circle. Then I put the woodworking tools away…that’s enough of that. I took a 14 foot length of 2” x 1/8” flat bar and ran it through the metal bender. One run through the bender got me a beautiful 52” diameter steel hoop. I strapped the hoop around the plywood table base, trimmed it to length, and welded the hoop shut. It worked out better then I expected and the metal edge of the table is perfect.

Next I spent some time on AutoCAD coming up with a table top design. I found it necessary to brush up on my leaf anatomy so some Google searches provided me with the info I needed. Once I figured out how the blade, vein, and petiole of a leaf all fit together I was able to build one on my 2D desktop. I then took the single leaf design and layered it on top of my AutoCAD designed table top till I had a pattern I (I mean she) was happy with. After scaling the design to a 1:1 ratio I printed it out onto 36 pages. I pulled out the TAG welder (Tape and Atmospheric Gas) and my dual opposing blade chop saw (some people call them scissors) and I built a paper template of my leaf design. This project is not going well, first wood work, then arts and crafts, where is the molten metal?

 Back out to the garage…ahhhhhh, I can breath. The paper template was laid onto the table top plywood. Now the fun part. I took ½” flat bar in 2 different thicknesses. The spine and the edge of the leaves were going to get outlined with 3/16” flat bar and the veins would get 1/8”. Grabbed the carbide chop saw (he was no longer sulking) and clamped the ring roller to the bench and away we went. I spent the afternoon bending all the spines, veins, and perimeters of the leaves to form my design. Everything got tack welded with the TIG and then the final edge welds were MIG’d. I was amazed out how well white printer paper held up to the welding. The pattern came out perfect and the table was starting to take shape. However shape is all I have for now.

My original plan was to tile the top of the table. The tiles would all get cut and layed inside the welded pattern. I had not bought the tiles yet however I organized and obtained all the equipment I needed to make all the curved tile angle cuts. Earlier this week I had even run some test cuts on some old floor tile to ensure I would succeed at all the curved slicing. I had my technique all ready to go…one problem, I changed my mind. It’s funny that I did because typically once I have brainstormed an idea, designed the project, set up for it, and have begun executing it I very seldom waiver from the “plan”. Anyway…I have a new idea. It hasn’t been researched yet so I’m not going to share it. If I let the cat out of the bag I fear I will be setting myself up for failure. By not talking I can hide my failure and convince everyone that, whatever plan I come up with, was the one I had been going for.

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