Fire Table – Wood Table Top Assembly

Fire Table – Wood Table Top Assembly

This week’s post really puts it all together. That’s right, it’s all about putting together the table top for my fire table. After completing the tenons previously, there really wasn’t too much left to do for final assembly. However, one of the items left to do did require quite a bit of routing.

I had to make the mortises for the table top board tenons to slot into. I’ve done this setup previously, so I have a decent process at this point. I clamp the breadboard to the edge of my workbench, level with the workbench top. I use a straightedge on the workbench that is offset to keep the router bit centered on the breadboard edge. Lastly, I measure and clamp in place end stops that get the mortise as wide as necessary without going too wide. 

Routing jig, complete with cement block to hold things in place.

Before completing the final table top assembly, I washed the wood to prep it for stain. I also stained the bottoms and sides of the wood, since they would be hard to access once assembled. I didn’t bother staining the tops, as I will need to sand them after assembly anyways.

The wash and stain used was the same as all of our other outside furniture.
Cold weather means staining inside these days.

I took it all back to the workshop for assembly after it dried inside. The middle three boards in this design are not full length boards, because of the concrete insert. That means there are actually 6 individual boards, and it also means that I would be adding them last. That allowed me to focus on getting the 4 outer boards in place first.

It was a tight fit, but I was able to lay it all out in the workshop.

Once I did a mockup of the table top, I started assembly. This process takes a little bit of finesse to get the breadboard to sit as tightly as possible to the boards. I attach the boards, see where sanding is needed to get each board fitting tightly, then pull them apart to sand. This is an iterative process that can be tedious, but it is very worth it for a clean finished result.

My left over spacers from doing the floor were perfect for spacing the boards evenly.

A breadboard held on by mortise and tenons typically needs pins in the middle of the tenons to keep it snugly attached. After getting the boards on and spaced correctly with spacers, I drilled the holes through the mortise and tenon joints. This is another process that I take my time on to make sure the holes are centered properly.

I promise that was straighter than this picture shows while actually drilling.

You may have noticed by the above picture that I attach the pins through a joint before drilling the hole in the next one. This helps to keep everything in place through the drilling process. I put glue on an oak dowel and hammer it in place after drilling each hole. These are all glued since the boards don’t touch each other and I don’t have to worry about wood movement.

All pins in ready to dry overnight.

Once the glue dries on the pins, it is a simple matter to use the flush cut saw to cut off the excess pin length. I also completed the pinning process for the inner 6 boards at this point. The outer, full length boards kept everything in place and I cut the inner boards to the proper length to fit the concrete insert.

The flush cut saw works great, just some minor sanding to get everything smooth.

After that I just had to sand the joints and pins down to make everything as smooth and tightly matched as possible. A couple coats of stain on top and she was complete. I didn’t have a photo of just the top, but here it is on the table legs. I think it looks great. Next post will go into detail about the table legs and those extra wood supports in the insert portion of the table.

I can’t wait to talk about those table legs in the next post. Looks great!

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