Saturday, June 2, 2012

Building a Custom Salon Table

It’s no secret that Bill and I love to hit the flea markets -- you never know what kind of treasures you’re going to find! One particular "gem" eventually morphed into our salon table. Well, sort of...

Phoenix’s salon table was another item that was MIA when we bought the boat, and we weren’t settled on what type of table we wanted to make. We looked at several designs, got quotes from marine carpenters that were absolutely outrageous (not to mention impractical -- no room for a regular sized plate!) and once again decided we would create something ourselves.

We found an Ethan Allen solid cherry harvest (drop leaf) table at the local flea market, and negotiated it down to $5. At that price, we couldn’t go wrong and if nothing else, it could serve as a prototype to help us visualize what we wanted. So we took it home and went to work.

Bill removing the drop leaves
The first thing we decided was that we didn’t want the drop leaves; we preferred a table that you could comfortably sit at without hitting your knees on a leaf, and that could expand without disturbing anyone sitting at the table. A gimbaled design was out for a similar reason -- we didn’t want to hit our knees or feet on the counter weights (and they are a pain to make).

We also decided that we wanted the table to run parallel to the seating area rather than the center line of the boat. Not the most traditional look but aesthetically it looked better to us and it strategically moved the corner of the table away from the companionway ladder base (to help avoid any potential accidents when coming down the steep ladder). And the table base needed to be very strong and sturdy, yet light at the same time (in case we needed to move it to get to the tanks under the floor boards).

Since the seating is on an angle, we decided to make the table more of a parallelogram than a traditional rectangle. I mean, why make the project easy? And we determined that two leaves would give us the flexibility we wanted for entertaining, sewing, laying out charts, etc.

After putting the bargain table in place to check the fit and take measurements, Bill started to part out the table. He removed the leaves and table base and then decided we could use the remaining tabletop in our design. He cut the ends on an angle to match the seating area, rounded the corners, and then cut the table in half lengthwise. I laminated almond colored Formica to the two pieces, while he planed some teak boards to trim the inner edge. The trim pieces were affixed with epoxy and stainless nails. 

Never can have enough clamps!
Meanwhile, Bill designed the metal framing for the table base, and had our friend and local metal fabricator make it and the backing plates out of aluminum. We zinc coated and then painted the completed frame and found wooden sliders to open the table for the leaves. 

Table base and sliders

Close up of the backing plates

Ready for leaves and trim edges!
We wanted the leaves to contrast with the tabletop, so Bill made those out of solid teak. The boards were cut 7” wide, edges were run through the joiner, the faces planed, and the ends cut to match the length and angle of our parallelogram-shaped table. 

Leaves cut to length
Then came the fun part of manufacturing custom teak trim to edge the table and leaves. We found ourselves lamenting our “unique” table angle design at this part of the project, but Bill’s templating and woodworking skills almost made this part of the project look easy! The trim pieces were also affixed with epoxy and stainless nails, and all nail holes were filled with a mixture of epoxy and teak dust. Everything was sanded fair, hardware was installed, the tabletop was attached to the base, and it was time for finish work.

Hardware's installed and getting ready for poly
Additional hardware was added under the tabletop to lock the table halves and/or leaves in place as needed to seat more people. When the leaves are added the whole top can be moved to allow easy access to the seating, and then slid back and locked into position once everyone is seated. The “lock” for the sliders is simply a long stainless pin with retaining pin that can be placed in different pre-drilled locations perpendicular to the slider.

After taping off and applying several coats of polyurethane to the teak, the table was finally ready for install. We carried the table down to the boat, determined the desired placement and through bolted the table and backing plates to the cabin sole. 

All taped off
The end result is A LOT different than the original $5 table, but we're very happy with the way the project turned out and the flexibility we have with the main salon! (Pay no attention to the cabin sole, that's another project!)

Table without leaves

1 leaf option, and slid towards the seating area

Both leaves in place and ready for party-mode!