My step-by-step video on building a coffee table in the style of Finn Juhl is now available on shopwoodwhorking.com.
The second video I shot at the Popular Woodworking shop in January is now available on DVD and download. Include with the step-by-step video is a cut list and pattern for the tapered leg.
I find the minimalist design quite appealing–I especially like the effect of the floating top and the juxtaposition of sharp angles and smooth curves. I’ve built it with a plywood top to be historically accurate, (that’s the approach documented on video, too), but I think there’s enough play in the metal pegs joining base and top that movement of a solid top wouldn’t be too much of a problem. I think a solid, vertical grain fur top over a cherry base could look good.
If you prefer your woodworking instruction via the printed word, this Juhl-inspired coffee table is also one of the step-by-step projects featured in Mid-Century Modern Furniture.
Suspended by six steel pegs, the top appears to float on this Finn Juhl coffee table.
Construction began with the top. I cut a 3/4″ plywood panel 1/4″ undersized to account for the 1/8″ edge banding with my tracksaw set at angle to cut the bevel. After ripping stock into 1/8″ strips, I spread a bead of glue along the short plywood edges and gave it a minute to size the join, then applied another thin bead of glue and taped the banding in place with painter’s tape. When the glue dried, I trimmed the banding and then banded the long sides. While the glue dried, I cut the pattern for the legs and shaped it to final size, then roughed out leg blanks and routed them to final size. I’m glad I cut extra blanks since I destroyed several while trying to rout the curve of the stub out–the short grain is prone to blowout. Continue reading
A different Juhl design provide a substitute for turned, tapered legs.
It turns out I didn’t have to look far to find an alternative to the turned legs in the Juhl coffee table I’m working on. There’s a tapered leg Juhl used in an ottoman design and in a coffee table design. While I’m contemplating a variation, though, I may as well contemplate a variation on that variation. I like the accent strip featured on the inside of the leg since it gives that profile a little more dimensionality. It also helps balance the structure.
The taper, though, calls to mind some Shaker designs, and I find myself considering eliminating the strip and beveling the leg from 3/4″ thickness at the top to 1/2″ at the bottom. The side stretcher looks a little less grounded, then, but the stark taper isn’t without its appeal, and it’s also easier to execute. Decisions, decisions.
Finn Juhl’s design features a beveled top suspended above a simple base distinguished by turned, tapered legs.
For my next project I’m jumping out of my usual Arts & Crafts period work several decades to build a Mid-century Modern coffee table by the Danish designer Finn Juhl. Juhl’s table features a beveled top suspended above its base by six dowels. Turned, tapered legs distinguish the rectilinear base.
The coffee table, along with sideboard, is perhaps the signature piece of mid-Century furniture, in much the same way the Morris chair has become emblematic of Arts & Crafts furniture. And Juhl’s table is an intriguing example of the form. He used the floating top elsewhere in his designs, but more often in his chairs, making its appearance as a table top a bit of an aberration. The original was built of teak, but I’m contemplating a version in fir or cherry, depending how closely I want to hew to the original construction, which features a veneered top banded with solid wood edging. If I follow suit, I’ll use some cherry plywood left over from an old project. If I opt for a solid wood top, I’ll be able to use some wide fir boards I picked up when a local sawyer moved shop to Alaska. Of course a solid wood top creates the potential for movement problems with seasonal changes in humidity, but I think there’s enough flex in how the top joins the base to absorb that movement. Continue reading