Turned Table

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The sum of four discs, one spindle, and a day’s fun at the lathe 

By Michael Kehs

Some furniture designs have funny inceptions. The idea for creating a turned table like this came from my father, who asked me to make a small table by mounting a turned disk atop a 24"-tall antique fire extinguisher made of copper. He wanted me to inlay the design of a snake into the top, explaining that it was for his Ruby. Now I know that Ruby doesn’t like snakes, so when I inlaid the reptile, I surrounded it with dyed blades of greenery. If he was gonna play a joke on his Ruby, I wanted to make sure she knew it was from my snake-in-the-grass Pop.

Since then, I’ve made these tables in many different configurations and heights, replacing the fire extinguisher with a turned column and base. The one shown here is a good height for an end table, while I’ve made some as tall as 42" for standing-deck-party drink pedestals. The post can be classical or contemporary, and as simple or complex as you like. As for the base, also shape it to suit; just make sure it has decent weight for good footing. 

As with this table, you can inlay the top with a design of thin material for decorative purposes. (See page 57.) You can also employ a thick piece to serve as a reinforcement for a split in an otherwise pretty piece of turning stock. If you’re inlaying, do it to the rough-bandsawn top blank before building the table. I dyed the top on this table to really make the curly maple grain sing. Whatever you do, have fun turning the tables!

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