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by Mark Stephens Jun 9, 2009 17
One of my challenges as a father of a toddler and as an avid camper is finding a table that’s a suitable size for my daughter.
I’ve tried plopping her plate on top of two stacked Storm Cases. The right height, but a little too shanty-like.
A few companies make a 20-ish inch high table: Byer of Maine for example. Nice table, but just not quite what I have in mind for the ideal table.
Why not just make one? Ah yes, the great benefit of custom woodworking means you can make anything you want, just the way you want (ahem, so long as you have enough time and money, of course . . .). So I set out to just get the job done with a simple design in mind and a perfect outdoor wood: ipe.
You might know ipe (pronounced ee-pay) as a nearly bomb-proof timber that comes out of South America (get more details here). For the most part, the decking industry is largest consumer of ipe. Its density and resistance to rot are virtually unmatched. Digging a little deeper, we’ve learned that ipe has a fire resistance rating identical to that of — are you sitting down for this? — concrete. Got an outdoor project? Sure thing, ipe will do.
Now, wood that will be subjected to the elements should still have some protection added. Generally speaking, latex paint is one of the best coatings for protecting wood – for utilitarian projects that’s fine, but when using a fine hardwood you probably don’t want to cover it with paint. Yet there are a few choices for clear finish that work well on exterior wood projects; spar varnish and epoxy resin for two examples.
I chose Deft Exterior Wood Finish, which is an oil that’s simple to apply. You know the old adage, “oil and water don’t mix,” so a penetrating oil finish helps the wood shed water. It will need to be re-applied about once a year, but that’s easy enough to do.
The construction on this table is simple, and with just a few details here and there give it a little class. The threaded brass inserts contrast the dark wood nicely. And all the slats and legs have a basic 3/16″ round over. Wah-la.
Wait a sec, did this say “dual purpose?” Yes. First, it’s a mighty fine kids eating table. Second . . . when she’s gone nighty-night . . . it’s a cocktail table.
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