A caste joint is a 3-way woodworking joint, very often used when making beds, tables, and other furniture. It is not only one of the strongest wood joints, but at the same time gives the joint elegance and makes it stand out aesthetically.
That is one of the main reasons why I decided to build an outdoor coffee table with castle joint legs and enhance it with a herringbone table top pattern.
Making a castle joint is not difficult and there are a few ways how to make it. The traditional way requires a hand saw (Japanese saw preferably) and a chisel. However, an “easier” way without the use of traditional tools is to cut the castle joint on a table saw with the help of a tenoning jig and a crosscut sled.
The table top of the coffee table is made from plywood arranged in a herringbone pattern. The pattern looks great, it beautifully highlights the table and gives it a nice touch. Although, making a tabletop from a herringbone pattern could be quite of a challenge, especially when keeping the herringbone pattern straight and making sure it is centered while assembling it. However, with a little diligence, this will not be a problem and minor imperfections are easily hidden in the pattern.
The resulting table looks awesome, not only because of the castle joints that give the table strength and robustness, but also thanks to the beautiful herringbone table top.
In this article, I will walk you through step-by-step how to build an outdoor coffee table, more precisely how to build castle joints on a table saw using a tenoning jig, and how to make a tabletop by assembling wooden pieces into a herringbone pattern.
DIY Rectangle Outdoor Coffee Table with Castle Joint Legs Video
If you want to see how it is done, watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to build an outdoor coffee table with castle joint legs and a herringbone table top pattern.
Table of Contents
- The Material you will need
- General Questions
- What is the difference between herringbone and chevron pattern?
- What are the different ways to cut a castle joint?
- How to center the herringbone pattern?
- Castle Joint Outdoor Coffee Table with Herringbone Table Top
- Step 1: Cut the Castle in the Table Legs
- Step 2: Cut the Tenons in the Table Aprons
- Step 3: Cut the Half Lap Joints in the Tenons
- Step 4: Assemble the Coffee Table
- Step 5: Make the Herringbone Table Top
- What to pay attention to when making a coffee table with castle joints
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
What you'll need to make an outdoor coffee table
Material – Spruce Wood, Plywood
Coffee table legs
Spruce posts – 7cm x 7cm x 40cm
Coffee table aprons
Spruce posts – 7cm x 7cm x 50cm
Spruce posts – 7cm x 7cm x 60cm
Coffee table top
Plywood base – 51cm x 36cm x 0,9cm
Plywood strips – 6cm x 1,1cm x 1,2cm
Wood screws, Wood Glue
Sandpaper, Painter’s tape
Micro Jig Gripper
Flat bottom saw blade
Ruler Marking Gauge
What is the difference between herringbone and chevron pattern?
The Herringbone pattern is often confused with the Chevron pattern. The main difference between the herringbone pattern and the chevron pattern is how the ends are cut and how they connect.
In the herringbone pattern, the ends are cut at a 90-degree angle, where each piece is perpendicular to the previous and the next, resulting in a zigzag pattern. On the contrary, in the Chevron pattern, the ends are cut at an angle, resulting in a V-shaped pattern. Although the herringbone pattern is a little easier to make since all the cuts are perpendicular, it is time-consuming to make both patterns.
What are the different ways to cut a castle joint?
There are 2 main ways how to cut a caste joint:
- Use of traditional tools – Making a castle joint with traditional tools without using power tools. This method involves the use of a hand saw, a chisel, or possibly a coping saw.
- Use of power tools – Making a castle joint with power tools. This method involves the use of an oscillating tool (router), or a table saw in combination with a tenoning jig or a crosscut sled.
How to center herringbone pattern?
There are 2 ways how to identify the center of a herringbone pattern:
- Mark the center of the short side of the tile – the center line passes through the centers of the ends of the tiles.
- Mark the center of the longer side of the tile – the center line passes through the centers of the longer sides. The longer side is equal to the total length of the tile from which the length of the shorter side is subtracted.
The total cut size will determine which center should be selected.
Pick a center and measure the total cut size. In case you don’t want to end up with short cuts on the sides select the other center.
Let's start building!
For the coffee table, I am using 7x7cm spruce posts. For the table top a 0,9cm thick plywood desk and 1,2cm thick plywood strips for the herringbone pattern. After gluing the strips on the plywood desk and trimming the table surface the width of the table top is 1,9cm.
For the table legs as well as for the table aprons, I am using square posts which makes it easier when cutting the castle joints. Once you have all the tools set up (the combination square, the ruler marking gauge, the table saw, and others) you can simply make all the cuts repeatedly and accurately.
After assembling the castle joint legs, I decided to additionally apply glue to the joints and fix them. There are 2 main reasons for that. Firstly, the joint serves as an aesthetic element, and secondly, the combination of glue and sawdust will create a paste that nicely hides any imperfections in the joints.
Check out this article if you want to know more about castle joints.
Castle Joint Outdoor Coffee Table with Herringbone Table Top
Step 1: Cut the Castle in the Table Legs
Measure and cut the table legs. The dimensions of the legs are 7cmx7cmx40cm. To cut the legs I am using a table saw and a miter gauge with a set stopper to make sure the length of all the legs is equal.
Draw the castle on the leg. For that, I am using a marking gauge and a combination square. Once you have the settings, keep them, you will need them to cut the tenons as well.
Castle of the castle joint:
- The depth of the castle equals the width of the post (7cm)
- Divide the width of the posts into thirds and cut the inner section
NOTE: Make sure the posts are straight and square. Both on the edges and the ends. Also, I decided to use square posts (7x7cm). Having a square post makes it easier to cut all the castles and the tenons. Once you have all the settings in place you can repetitively cut all the joints.
To cut the bridle joint use a table saw tenoning jig. Raise the blade to the top mark (depth) of the joint and move the tenoning jig so the blade touches the inner “castle” mark.
Make the cut. Then rotate the post 90 degrees 3 times and make a cut on all 4 sides of the post. Repeat the process for all 4 table legs.
To get rid of the material from the middle of the joint I used a coping saw and then the tenoning jig to clean it. (You can directly clean the castle joint with the tenoning jig, but cutting the material on the saw is really messy and there is sawdust everywhere).
At this point, you have the castle of the castle joint.
TIP: Save the sawdust. You can use it when cleaning the imperfections in the castle joint.
Step 2: Cut the Tenons in the Table Aprons
Draw the castle joint on the table aprons using the same settings on the marking gauge and the combination square.
Tenons of the castle joint:
- The depth of the tenons equals the width of the post (7cm)
- Divide the width of the posts into thirds and cut the outer sections
Use the tenoning jig to cut the tenons on the table aprons. The height of the blade stays the same. Move the tenoning jig so the blade touches the outer “castle” mark.
Make the cut, rotate the post 180 degrees, and make another cut.
TIP: Start your cut a little further from the mark. You can always sneak up on the cut. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the other way.
Roughly cut off the tenons and try the bridle joint. Keep on sneaking up on the cut until you get a nice joint fit. Once the fit is perfect cleanly cut the tenons using a miter gauge or a crosscut sled. If you use a miter gauge set a stopper on the table saw fence (don’t crosscut directly against the fence) and cut the tenons on all 4 table aprons.
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Step 3: Cut the Half Lap Joints in the Tenons
Join one of the table legs with one of the aprons and mark the internal crossing. Also, make a mark in the middle of the height of the apron.
Set the stopper on the table saw (table saw sled) and cut the half-lap joints in the tenons. Again, I am using a miter gauge for the cuts. Repeat the process for all 4 table aprons.
Now you have a castle joint.
Step 4: Assemble the Coffee Table
Connect the table legs and the aprons together and assemble the castle joints. Since the joints also serve as a decorative element, I am using glue to strengthen them.
TIP: If you want to get rid of tiny cracks and imperfections in the joints, make a paste out of glue and sawdust and rub it in the joints. Then use a sander and smooth them out.
Step 5: Make the Herringbone Table Top
First, cut a plywood desk (51cm x 36cm x 0,9cm) for the tabletop. Check that the desk nicely fits on the table.
Cut a lot of plywood strips (6cm x 1,1cm x 1,2cm) and sand the edges to get rid of splinters. The best way to cut the strips is to use a table saw in combination with a crosscut sled.
1. Make the herringbone pattern
Decide on the direction and the center of the herringbone pattern. To keep the herringbone pattern straight draw multiple auxiliary lines on the desk. Attach a piece of a straight wood bar or a lever along one of the drawn lines to create a guiding rail for the pattern.
Start gluing the pieces from the center of the desk, making sure they are glued to both the table and each other. Glue the first 2 pieces perpendicular to each other and continue with the other following the straight edge.
2. Finish the table top
Once the glue dries use a router sled to flatten the table top. Use an orbital sander to smooth the surface and get rid of the router bit markings.
Tape the edges with painter’s tape and cut off the wood excess from the table desk. Optionally you can bevel the edges of the desk.
3. Install the table top
Turn the table and the table desk upside down. This way the table and the desk will be in one plane. Mark the bottom of the table desk on both sides of the table.
Cut 2 plywood strips a secure them along the lines to the sides of the table with screws. Then install the table top.
This time I built a rectangle outdoor coffee table with castle joints and a herringbone table top. And this is how it looks. I am really happy with how it turned out and I’m adding this piece of furniture to my terrace.
What to pay attention to when making a coffee table with castle joints
- Don’t change the settings on the marking gauge, the combination square, and the table saw until you’re done with each part of the castle joint at once.
- Use a tenoning jig to cut the castle and the tenons. Set the stoppers when using a miter gauge while cutting the tenons and the half-lap joints.
- When cutting a castle joint on a table saw it is better to start the cuts a little further from the marks and slowly sneak up on the cuts until the joint is perfect.
- Use a paste created from glue and sawdust to clean and fix any imperfections on the castle joints.
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