Here are some pictures showing the construction of a table I made for my kitchen. I designed the table and some chairs to go with it quite a while ago, and built the chairs first. Here's a computer-generated picture of the concept. I made this picture (before starting the project) using POV-Ray, a high-quality, totally free tool for creating three-dimensional graphics. It takes a while to learn how to use POV-Ray, but in the hands of an expert, it can produce truly stunning results. It's helped me a lot to get things looking the way I want before I start chopping up expensive material.

I started by making the green ring that forms the perimeter of the tabletop. It consists of a 3/4" thick top layer that's about 3-1/2" wide, and a narrower, thicker layer glued on the bottom to give the thicker edge. Each layer is made of 12 individual pieces, kind of like a giant segmented turning. Here they are, in rough cut form (May 11, 2008):

A jig for trimming the segments to the correct angle (May 17):

Gluing up the top ring:

I glued up the bottom ring in a similar fashion, then used a bandsaw to rough out the circular shape on both. I must have used a portable jigsaw to trim the inside of the thin ring. (May 26)

Both rings, ready to be joined:

Wedding the rings:

At this point I temporarily attached the ring to a piece of particle board. I placed 1/4" steel rod vertically through the particle board to act as a central pivot point, then trimmed the inside of the ring to an exact circular shape using a router and this jig:

Then I used the same jig to trim the same piece of particle board into an exact circle that just slipped inside the ring. This was probably the trickiest part of the whole project. The jig made it easy to make the parts perfectly circular, but I had to carefully "sneak up" on the size of the particle board by making fine adjustments to the jig. Here's the result. You can kinda sorta see the pivot rod still stuck in the middle (June 1):

Finally, I used the router jig one last time with a giant 1" radius roundover bit to mill the outside edge of the ring (June 8):

Well now, if I put some plastic laminate on that particle board, it's going to be proud of the ring by the thickness of the laminate. Also, how can I ever hope to paint the ring without messing up the laminate? The answer is that the ring can be removed and/or adjusted up and down because it's not glued to the main part of the top. It's supported by twelve little brackets around the perimeter as shown (upside down) in the following picture. A 1/4" bolt goes through the 3/8" hole in each bracket to clamp the two parts together and to provide the adjustability (a.k.a. "slop") needed to get the ring and the top flush after the laminate is installed.

Okay. So the top's more or less done. Time to work on the column. It's made from eight pieces of thick material joined together using bird's mouth joints, as shown below. Apparently this joint is/was often used to make hollow wooden masts for ships. (June 20)

The picture above shows the column after it was all glued together and then turned round on a lathe. The tricky part of its construction was just cutting the joints. I didn't want to try it with my nasty radial arm saw, so I made another router jig instead. It has a little cradle to hold the workpiece at the right angle, and then the router just slides along the top to cut the joint:

Here's what the parts looked like just after cutting the joints:

There's nothing too special about the legs. Here's a shot when they were partway done, showing how they get bolted to the column (June 25):

Here they are again, this time almost done (June 26):

And finally, after adding some steel straps to reinforce the weak half lap joints (June 28):

The shroud that hides the big ugly joint between the legs and the column is made of fiberglass. I made a form for this part by gluing together a stack of particle board disks. Then, because my lathe wasn't big enough, I "turned" it round using YARG (yet another router jig) (July 2):

The form, complete:

The shroud, almost complete (July 10):

The shroud, installed (July 13):

Okay, so now it's the middle of July in Phoenix and paint dries on the brush before you can get it from the can to whatever you're trying to paint. So I did some other stuff while waiting for cooler weather to start painting the base ... (October 29):

... and the ring. It seems the only oil based enamel you can buy these days is plain old Rustoleum from Home Depot, so that's what I used. The green ring has a few coats of polyurethane on top for protection and added gloss, but I didn't apply that same treatment to the base because the polyurethane would have made it look slightly yellow instead of the radioactive white color that I was going for. (November 9):

All done, ready to support the first bowl of raisin bran (November 21):