How to build a live edge river table with glass inlay – for a dollhouse

In this article I show you how I’ve build a river table from firewood. This was a fun little side-project for the firewood challenge in the r/woodworking subreddit. While the table is created at a small scale the methods use in the project to cut and fit the glass to the live edge will be applicable for a full-sized table as well.

Recently it seems to be mandatory for all makers to build at least one river table. So we will replace this traditionally made table with a modern river table design. It’s a small size dollhouse table – which makes it easy to put it into storage when the trend is over.

I start with this small piece of yellow plum firewood that I cut in thin strips on the bandsaw. Between each cut I take a pass over the jointer and sand the face smooth on the belt . This way it’s easier to hold the wood safely.

With more sanding I also sand the other face smooth. It’s the first time that I‘m building model size furniture so if you have any advice please leave a comment.

Next I cut one of the middle pieces in half to create the table top. I mark the area of the table top and cut the sides with the bandsaw and plan them straight with a block plane. The crosscuts are made with a handsaw.

Glass inlay

I got a few glass offcuts and trace the rough shape of the bark to the glass. Using a drop of oil and a glass cutter I follow the lines. If you have a high quality cutter,  press the cutter down firmly and cut in one pass you should be able to break the glass easily along the line.

   

By destroying a belt on my belt sander I break the sharp edges of the glass and remove minor bumps.

To transfer the shape of the glass to the wood I firmly attach it with double stick tape to a piece of thin plywood that should become my template. I am very careful to not touch the glass with the router bit’s blade.

 

As the plywood is too shallow to support my guide bushing I copy the shape to a thicker piece of ply.

Next I cut my shape using two different combinations of guide bushings and routerbits. The first combination is a 5mm router bit with a 17mm guide bushing. This combination cuts a slot in a distance of 11mm from my template edge.

With a scroll saw I connect the two slots and create one pocket. With a 30mm bushing and a 8mm router bit I cut in a distance of 11mm from the template edge and thus should create a pocket that is identical to the size of my original piece of glass.

Before screwing the template in place I carefully check that the bark is everywhere at the same distance from the template edge.

I use the glass itself to set the depth of the router and route out the pocket.

While this method worked perfectly in my mind I ended up with an undersized pocket. I actually was not able to identify the problem – either I’ve picked the wrong bit or there’s an error in my reasoning. If you have an idea please leave a comment.

I can nevertheless assemble the tabletop – i’s just a bit wider than originally planned.

From the rest of the firewood I cut a few narrow boards and sand them smooth. With a Japanese handsaw I cut the boards at an angle of 5 degree according to my drawing.

Legs

You could most likely get away with a simple butt joint but I decided to improve the stability with a hal flap joint at each corner. Cutting such a small joint and pairing them with a chisel is quite a challenge.

 

The legs are then glued together and everything gets a coat of spray lacquer.

 

The table is assembled with a little bit of super glue.

I like the wood of the yellow plum for the table as it resembles sand.

It was a fun project and I will submit this to the firewood challenge at the woodworking subreddit.

How to create a river table for a dollhouse - complete building instructions with video.

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