Which wood for dining table project?


I'm planning to make my 1st "real" woodworking project, a base for a glass topped dining room table. The basic design will be a bit like this metal one, only executed in wood: http://www.dwr.com/productdetail.cfm?id 75 Top size will be 72" x 42" x .5". Base will be stained to match some chairs I have, a color they call "wenge", or as close as I can come. So, I'm wondering what wood to use? A hardwood of course. I'm leaning towards beech, birch or maple. I believe the chairs are birch. Planning to use boards 3.5" x .75" finished size, glued 2 & 3 thick for the various portions. No doubt maple would be the most expensive of the 3. Again I'm very new at this, so any observations about the relative merits/costs of these woods, or of the basic concept, would be appreciated. My workshop is a bit meager at the moment, limited to hand tools & basic power tools (drills, various sanders, router, circular & jig saws) a drill press, & a very nice Bosch 12" SCMS.
TIA
Dan
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How about wenge?
I doubt you'll get the maple or beech to stain that dark.
Otherwise I would use oak, it sems to have a similar grain that will take a nice dark dye.
I wouldn't copy those mitered corners on the legs. That will meet with certain doom.
Matt
Dan wrote:

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Sorry to reply to myself...I meant the oak will have a similar grain to wenge, not maple or beech.
Matt
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Thanks for the replies. I'm guessing wenge would cost an armanaleg ;-) Not crazy about oak. Again, the chairs are birch, I don't know how closely their tone approximates REAL wenge (since I've never seen any ;-) but all I need to do is approximate the chairs! ;-) I had originally planned to miter the legs, using bead lock. I've been practicing the joints on pine boards of the same size. Seems quite strong with the bead lock, though it's kind of a pain to get such wide miters to close nicely. Lately I've been thinking of making the leg joints essentially lap, since it will be 3 boards, just make the middle one on the leg portion short by the width of the boards. Lotta glue area then! The "v" portion where the 2 leg sections meet will be bead locked miters, don't know what else would do, these should be under much less stress in the direction that would cause a miter to fail anyway.
Dan
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Costly?
Sure you can. Use a water-based dye. Maple will get as dark as you want it. You can even ebonize maple.

So will maple.
--
Stoutman
http://www.garagewoodworks.com
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Oak, Maple, and Cherry are the three basic hardwoods, but there are many more. It is good to see which ones are a good buy because prices vary greatly on location and supply.
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On Fri, 25 Aug 2006 17:42:39 -0700, Dan wrote:

Nice looking table.
Have you determined how much that glass will weigh? I'm a little worried about the joint at the top of the legs.

Use what the chairs are made of. Seems a no-brainer that you'd have more luck getting the table to match that way.
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Art Greenberg
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wrote:

I think I'd use a bridle joint there.
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George Max wrote:

I'm not familiar with that, can you elaborate?
Dan
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It's essentially an open mortise and tenon. The shoulders could be arranged to make it look from the side like it was mitered together. This joint is common in Arts and Crafts pieces. Take a look at some Taunton publishing company books.
Next, the quickest way to get an idea of what a bridle joint is is this:
With either hand, make a U. That is, hold up all 4 of your fingers with your thumb opposing.
Then hold your other hand out straight. Take that hand and cradle it in the U of your other hand.
That's a bridle joint.
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Some thoughts:
Real wenge is an option, but I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner project as it's not easy to work with: hard, heavy, splintery, oily, a respiratory irritant, etc. Not to mention expensive. Also, the grain figure is radically different between the quartersawn and flatsawn faces. If the refined quartersawn look is what you want, you have to think about how you'll hide/mask the flatsawn face.
Another suggestion for a domestic wood is ash; it has an open pore structure like wenge, and is frequently "ebonized" black with dye & stain. Aniline dye followed by wiping stain followed by top coat is one method I've seen.
I don't think that welded steel table structure will lend itself to wood. The mitre joint at the top of the leg can be done, but you'll need a spline or tenon of some kind, and the proportions will have to be much beefier in wood than in metal. I also think you'll want some continuous horizontal members (aprons, whatever) stretching between the legs. Those joints in the middle aren't going to be strong enough in wood. Maybe have aprons making an X, connecting opposite legs, with a narrow rectangular frame around it to brace it. Gives you some of the aesthetics of the metal table, anyway.
Also consider how well the table will resist twist; you don't want something that gets all wobbly if everyone's cutting their food at the same time.
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