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This coffee table, sick originally designed and built by Gregory  Paolini, was featured on the cover of Fine Woodworking magazine.
I recommend this table be purchased locally so arrangements can be made for pickup or delivery in Southern WI or Northern IL. The a€?coffee table,a€? as we have come to know it, had not yet evolved in Charles Limberta€™s day. Partly to keep costs down, and partly to see how successfully I could build from sawn kiln dried timber without buying it already machined, I thought it would be interesting to buy the rough lumber and machine it myself prior to use.
Some 4x2" solid softwood cauls were used to make sure the top surface was kept as near as possible flat. The legs where then cut on the bandsaw, and finished to the final shape using a belt sander. The lower table was glued up from 4 smaller planks, and trimmed to a rectangle as a first stage. The rebates on the mid span of each side where then cut with the table saw and the planks clamped on edge to the front of a table sledge. Using the template, the shape was them marked and the top cut roughly to size on the bandsaw. This could probably have been prevented by flipping the whole job over half way through and swapping from a top bearing guided bit to a bottom baring guided bit.
This was also the first deviation from the original plans, that called for the ends of the stretchers to be morticed in the same way as the legs, and slip tenons used to join them. And also to start the half lap joint that allowed one stretcher to cross the other (the full depth could not be cut on the table saw, so the remainder needed to be cut by hand and chiselled out). A first coat of Liberon finishing oil was also applied at this stage to make cleanup of any assembly glue spills easier. Assembly needs to be done in a strict order, since the lower table is not fixed in position, but it is captive! The stetchers were glued up first, and clamped to a square block to make the intersection properly square. A rasp was used to fettle any rebate sides as required to get a nice fit where some of the original joints were a little tight for assembly (even if technically "correct" according to the design). I did cut some oak plugs to fill the screw access holes in the bearers, but since you have to lay on the floor and look up under the table to see them, and I wanted to keep the screws accessible should it ever be necessary to remove the top later for refinishing, I did not bother fitting them in the end.
To finish the table, two more coats of finishing oil were applied, and then left to dry for a day or so.


And there you have it, construction was spread over about 10 days working a few hours a day.
Look up product instructions, videos and articles about your favorite tools using our Learning Center. If the item qualifies for Free Standard Shipping, but your order contains other ineligible items, you will be charged shipping fees for those ineligible items. Paolini modified the design of  Charles Limbert’s Arts and Crafts era library table to create a beautiful coffee table. Shipping charges for larger items can be expensive and vary depending on your location so please email me for shipping costs to your area. This custom handmade design for a coffee table, shown here in white oak, owes a great deal of its genetic material to a taller table design from Limberta€™s catalog. Its basically a scaled down version of a similar design created by Charles Limbert, and features many of his typical design cues.
Some enquiries of local merchants eventually found a decent source from EO Burton in Brentwood. With this edge against the table saw fence it was then sawn to slightly over its final 4" width. Alas my jointer planer is only 6" wide, which meant either ripping each board in half to allow them to be accurately machined on the surface planer first, (and then going with a more complicated glue up), or taking a chance on "skip" planing using just the thicknesser. The contact surface of the cauls was covered with PVC packing tape to make sure they did not get glued to the table! To plane this all down from 1" stock seemed rather wasteful given that the primary stages of machining had already generated 2 dustbin loads worth of planer shavings!
This would be easy to do with a traditional table saw tenon jig, but alas I don't have one. To mark the wood for the cut, I clamped a block of wood to the side of the leg, and then clamped a wooden rule to the block. The template was then clamped to the oak, and a bearing guided flush trim bit using in a router to machine the table top to the exact shape of the template. Instead I cut them longer and made traditional tenons on the end using the table saw, with a precise blade height adjustment to cut the shoulders with the wood flat on the table against the fence (removing the remainder with extra passes). First all components were thoroughly sanded at 60, 120, and finally 240 grit, using a combination of belt, random orbit, and orbital sander. Then one leg was mounted on its joint and glued in place.* The lower table can then be positioned.


Slight gaps at the interface of the lower table and a couple of legs were filled with suitable shavings of wood and pared flat with a chisel.
I have followed Paolini’s design and now you too can enjoy this beautiful piece of oak furniture in your home.
If you can find a copy of the magazine article about, then there is also just about enough information in that to do the build. In the end I opted for the latter having selected a couple of nice reasonably untwisted boards to make the table top from. Since there was a slight variation in panel twist, the glue up was done in three goes - with middle two boards first, and then the outer two added on after. So with these boards I ripped them down to narrow widths, and then used the bandsaw to resaw them closer to final thickness, before starting planing.
This was done for all four legs in one go using a sledge on the table saw to notch out the sides accurately, and then using multiple passes to waste away the remaining timber. The ellipses are marked out using a pair of panel pins - one tapped into each foci, and loop of string placed round them. Its important to the keep the top of the stretchers exactly aligned with the lower rebate coutout in the leg so that the table can slip into placewith its notches overlapping with those in the legs. Any other minor gaps were filled with a filler simply made from some of the fine oak sawdust collected from the sanding, mixed with a little Tightbond glue.
Now the additional legs can be added in sequence (the cutouts in the stretchers make an easy place to add clamps to pull the mortice and tenon joints up tight).
These were part drilled with a 10mm lip and spur bit, and then through drilled with a 6mm bit. The final assembly to use 4mm diameter 50mm length Reisser gold passivated screws to fix the table.
The little bit of slop in the holes will accommodate any seasonal movement in the big table top.



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