Glass Topped Deck Table

A generous neighbour offered me a free glass table top, 44 inches square and 3/4″ thick. All it needed was something to set it on. I figured it would make a great dining table for the deck so I considered various ideas for making a base. Since the top is very heavy, I didn’t want anything tippy so that ruled out a lot of pedestal-type designs that I looked at. I also wanted to be able to slide the deck chairs under it without banging into legs and stretchers. So I settled on a conventional base with some interlocking rails.

I had just the right amount of yellow cedar left over from earlier stair rail and a workbench projects. Yellow Cedar is actually a member of the cypress family and it is a fantastic wood to work with, particularly for outdoor projects and it is resistant to weather, insects, and contact with soil.

Yellow cedar blanks dimensioned and ready for machining
Yellow cedar blanks dimensioned and ready for machining

This was also another opportunity to rekindle my love/hate relationship with Sketchup. Here are my construction drawings:

First, an exploded detail of how the pieces fit together:

Here is a detail closeup of the joinery at each corner:

And here is how the joint appears when it is put together:

I cut the joints on the bandsaw, fitting them using chisels until they slipped together easily.

I decided to use use PL400 construction adhesive instead of Gorilla Glue (a similar urethane glue), or Titebond III, a waterproof aliphatic resin glue, because I wanted to make sure any voids in the joints were filled. PL 400 isn’t as runny as Gorilla Glue. Urethane glues expand while curing filling any small small voids. I’m sure any of the outdoor glues would have been fine. Keep in mind that when using urethane glues, there can be quite a bit of cleanup from squeeze-out, and it can stain the wood.

For finishing. I used a wood conditioner to avoid blotchiness, followed by a medium cherry stain, and 4 coats of an outdoor water-based polyurethane. Since this wood is very rot resistant anyway, this is mainly for cosmetic purposes. I’ll probably be sorry in a couple of years for using a film forming finish!

I had some small black rubber pads salvaged off of something or other that turned out to be just dandy for setting the glass. Keeps it from contacting the wood and wicking rain water between the wood and glass.

The height of the table was governed by the chairs I need to slide under it. This turned out to be about 27 1/2 inches total height. The 40″ table base provides two inches of overlap for the glass on all sides.

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