Curly Maple Coffee Table

Home Up


For sometime, I have wanted to build a coffee table of the Mission style using curly maple wood.  However, I haven't had much success finding some 6/4 thick curly maple that will give me at least a 1 inch thick top.  The Mission style design of coffee table is rather bold, yet fairly simple in style with vertical and horizontal members not requiring a large array or inventory of tools and equipment to build.

As with my MO, I want to go just a little beyond the simplest Mission style of coffee table and incorporate two or three storage drawers underneath the top and also an open storage shelf on the lower level, yet stay away from curved lines of construction for the support rails or bands underneath the top, staying with the traditional Mission style of design.

Most Mission style coffee tables that I have viewed via the internet has straight square legs and most with a lower storage shelf that doesn't extend all the way to the front or the back, of which I like that design.

The size of the Mission style coffee tables are in the vicinity of 48 inches length, 24 inch wide and around 17 to 19 inches in height and do not follow the golden rule ratio of 1.6 as to width versus length, but will do a simple cardboard type mock-up before committing to a certain size.  This project will be mostly mortise and tenon construction with some wood dowels and glue to secure the members together.  I do not plan to use an all the way through tenon with the end exposed as does some traditional Mission styles use.  The top will have biscuits and glue and will require two separate glue ups of less than 13 inches in width, if I decide to run the units through my surface planer before gluing the two separate panels together.  If the glue joints are level enough, will not need to surface plane them, but use the 4 x 24 inch belt sander for the initial leveling, etc.  I might locate a cabinet shop that has an abrasive belt sanding machine to do the final sanding/leveling since curly maple is prone to chip out and can ruin a project if the chip out is severe enough.


As stated earlier, I need some 6/4 curly maple wood for the top which will surface plane down to at least one inch to give it the boldness look that I am after.  I had some 4/4 curly maple left over from my serving trays project with some of the wood around 7/8 inch in thickness and most being around 3/4 inch in thickness which will work for the back and side rail members and the lower shelf.

I purchased a 20 board feet bundle of 6/4 curly maple wood from Wall Lumber Company in Mayodan, NC, and had them surface plane it down to 1.140 inches in thickness, however only a couple pieces in the bundle was what I would grade as AAA material, with the balance a grade A or less without a lot of figure or curl to it, but it should be doable.  I received the wood on 06-02-17.

Below a couple pixs of some of the left over curly maple from the serving tray project:

I had a couple wide pieces of decent looking figured curly maple wood about 24 inches long that was 8/4 or two inches in thickness and ripped them for a 3 inch square glue up for the legs which might be too thick, but can always reduce the size if needed.  I will "eye ball" the projects to ascertain what size legs looks the best.

Some decent figured curly maple above.

I used Titebond Ultimate III glue and plenty of clamps.

Pix of the Titebond Ultimate Glue III.  I have used Titebond glue for decades and pleased with it.

I did the above glue up on the legs back on August 29, 2016 and they definitely should be cured out by now; grin if you must!  My curly maple supplier Dustin Hensley in Gray, Kentucky wasn't able to get me 1 inch thick planed boards as of yet, that were 48 inch in length for the coffee table top and finally had to use an alternate source.  The alternate source's curly maple wood cannot touch the quality of what I got from Border Maple Specialties in Gray, Kentucky.  Centuries ago, Kentucky was known for its Kentucky Flintlock long rifle which most of the time had a highly figured curly maple stock from local harvested maple trees.


Below pixs of the 20 board feet of curly maple from Wall Lumber Company, Mayodan, NC:

Letting the wood acclimate to my woodworking shop humidity.

I will let the wood air dry (acclimate) to my basement woodworking shop normal humidity for about a month.  I checked the moisture content with a pin type moisture meter manufactured by Electrophysics and it was a little over six (6) percent, however I couldn't locate the meter case which contained the conversion chart for other woods, since it is calibrated and/or based for a wood such as Douglas fir.  I emailed the manufacture to obtain the conversion chart.  The wood is definitely dry though!

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 06-02-17.


A few days ago, one of my cousins called and wanted me to check on her Mom and Dad's home that has been vacant since her Dad passed away a couple years ago, whereas someone had broken into the home from the rear back porch, breaking a section of the glass door giving them access to the locking devices.

I surveyed the scene and purchased a sheet of 4' x 8' x 3/4 inch birch plywood and cut a section 29 x 36 inches from one end and installed it over the glass portion of the door, whereby I had plenty of excess material to construct a simple fixture 12" x 65" to trim irregular and/or not straight pieces of wood without having to bandsaw a rough straight edge and then true it up on the joiner/planer.  I can install a couple DeStaCo clamps or use simple wood blocks positioned as levers with the aid of 3/8 inch diameter threaded rods anchored into countersunk locking nuts from underneath the fixture.

The fixture will have a long runner aka slat that will snugly fit the miter groove aka slot width in my table saw top, whereas it will track north and south without any side to side movement and any hangover off the edge adjacent the table saw circular blade will be trimmed away using a rip blade with a zero tolerance insert.  Once I have a good straight edge on the edge of the board, I can then use my regular table saw fence to true the other edge up and to whatever width I desire.  I want to keep the top members around 6 to 7 inches in width for the glue up and end up a 24 inch wide coffee table top, however I might have it a couple inches less than that.

I started today, by ripping a 12 inch wide piece from the 3/4 x 48 x 65 inch Birch plywood panel.  I already had some left over (unallocated) red oak material that had been resized to the 3/4 inch width of the table saw miter groove and ripped four (4) pieces a little less than 3/8 inch in thickness.  I placed the red oak slats into the table saw miter groove aka slot; used two of them and elevated them with a copper penny and a piece of .025 stainless steel shim stock off the bottom of the groove; ran a bead of Titebond Ultimate III glue on the slats and placed the 12 x 65 x 3/4 inch piece of birch plywood on top of the slats aka runners which was a little proud of the table saw top surface, whereas I will run the fixture across the saw blade once all four miter slats are in place.   I used a couple pieces of lead material weights to apply pressure and will allow the glue to cure overnight.  I will then, glue the other two runners aka slats in place, which will take two more gluing operations due to the placement of the slats on the birch plywood trim fixture.  When all four (4) sectional runners are glued in place, I will countersink some flathead screws from the bottom of the runners.

The clamping devices will be installed and make some type of handle to assist in pushing the fixture across the table saw.  This is a lot of extra work, whereas I could simply use the bandsaw and jointer/planer, but I want to get a finish cut parallel board for a good tight glue up for the coffee table top.  I am sure this trim fixture will be used on other future projects as well, if the Lord will of course!  I have a couple shorter trim fixtures, but this trim fixture should handle up to a 5' length board, of which I plan to have the end toggle clamps positioned for a 4' board.  I doubt I will install 1/4 x 20 wood screw inserts, but simply use wood screws to hold the clamps in place.

Click on thumbnail pixs below for a larger screen view:

Webpage updated by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 06-28-17.


Since I already had some 1/4 x 20 tpi wood inserts, I decided to install them for the mounting of two DeStaCo 235-U toggle clamps.  I had one extra toggle clamp and "borrowed" one off a fixture not currently in use and do not foresee using that fixture anytime soon.

With the toggle clamps installed, it was time to start trimming the sides of the 4' curly maple boards.

The fixture worked great, but the red oak runners were just a little snug width wise in the table top miter saw slots, but will loosen up some with usage.  It took a little extra manual effort to push the fixture across the table saw and supported the front overhanging end with the aid of a roller stand designed for that purpose.

With all the boards trimmed with one good parallel edge, I trimmed the opposite side using the table saw fence with the trued edge and ripped the wider boards in half.  There will be enough material for the top and also the side members.  I have enough material on hand for the lower shelf which doesn't have to be but around 3/4 inch in thickness.  The top is around 1.140 inches and has a bold look to it.  I haven't decide whether I will route a decorative edge on it or not, but the Mission style has a square edge and will probably go with that.  It would be less chance to ruin the top with a the straight square edge versus the edge with a decorative border since curly maple can chip and blow out quickly due to the tight curly grain structure, even when doing everything right!

Checked the tightness of the joints to see what they looked like; appears good.


I planned for five (5) biscuits installed in each board glue-up and took my time and only glued two boards together at a time, rather than try and do the entire five board glue-up.  The Titebond Ultimate III glue has a twenty minute open glue time, but in reality it is about half that time and didn't want to take a chance and have the glue sitting up before adequate clamping pressure applied.  I have messed up before during a glue-up and didn't want that to happen again.  It is best to do it right the first time!

I used a total of twenty (20) # 20 biscuits and tightened the bar clamps just tight enough to get a good tight glue line fit, without squeezing all the glue from the joint.  I used a small horse hair plumbers acid flux brush to apply glue to each board, the biscuits and biscuit slots.  I plan to obtain a dedicated glue tip bottle just for biscuit joints which is much more efficient than the horse hair brushes. 

The five boards fits together real well and should not be a problem to sand everything flush and flat using either my 4 x 24 inch belt sander and/or the orbital sander finishing off with the two Porter-Cable palm sanders. 

I let each glue-up rest twenty four hours before the next glue up; this wouldn't work on production, grin if you must!  I will square up the ends on the table saw using a trim fixture and rip the width to size.  I plan to position the 3 inch square legs and do a mockup and see if they are too large for eye appeal for the top and go from there.

I checked the date ID of the pix of the last glue up and it was on 07-08-17.


I took plenty of time off from this project and re-scanned over one thousand three hundred (1300) 35mm slides taken back in the middle to late 1970s through 1983 and scanned them at 1200 dpi.  I ran a few of them after scanned through Photoshop CS2 and saved as a .tiff file which was around 95 megabytes.  However, I saved most in .jpg format and did not run them through Photoshop CS2, but through the Epson V550 software which was around 3.5 to 4 megabytes depending on the light factor of the original slide.  I use the .tiff format when needing a quality large print, however usually end up with around 100 kilobytes or less for web publishing a pix as above.  I will run the digitized 35mm slide images through Photoshop CS2 when I need to correct the image and resize for web publishing.

It took 1.6 minutes to scan each slide and that doesn't include blowing dust from the slides and brushing each front and back of the slide film with an antistatic type brush.  The Epson V550 will allow you to load four (4) slides at at time in a plastic positioning holder.  For what I am archiving, the Epson scanner is OK, but "Most of the time, you get what you pay for" and this scanner is a good example.  

Below is a slide pix that was taken back in the early 1980s that is digitized from Kodachrome slide film:

The little shrimp boat was made by an inmate at the Anson Correctional Center in Polkton, NC.  Back then, with the Supt's permission, inmates could sell their hand crafted items to staff members....that is taboo now......grin if you must!  There was a pile of wood matches used in the above shrimp boat along with a few popsicle sticks, sewing thread wood spool and a nylon hair net, etc.

Web page updated by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 07-12-17.


Due to our annual big game hunting season in and some current health issues, I placed the coffee table project on hold aka the "back burner" and hopefully will get back on it sometime around Spring of the year.

Web page updated by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 11-18-17.


If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be attained.   

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Open this link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King James Version Bible (KJV).

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”


Home Up