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Marine grade stainless + wood slat table

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  • Marine grade stainless + wood slat table

    Hi guys, here is my latest project. I've taken some photos through it's life cycle, excuse the long thread but I'm quite happy with how this one is turning out.

    I haven't done the woodwork yet, but the frame is done now. The finished table will have either inlaid slats, flush with the top frame, leaving a 38mm stainless steel border around the wood, or it will have the slats sitting ontop of the frame- have not yet decided which I want to do.

    The table will live in a coastal location close to waves breaking on a headland, there's a fair amount of salt in the air so 316 grade was the call.

    I cut and welded the top frame in about 2/3rds of a day, cut and tacked the legs over a couple of hours and just finished welding the legs in place and grinding down/flushing the welds, which took me 4 hours or so. It wasn't the quickest process but i've probably spent about 12 hours on it so far.

    I had a few issues with getting the frame nice and flat which member HAWK helped me out with in PM's, so a big thanks to you mate. The diagonals came out to within 1mm and when placed on a flat surface the frame rocks maybe 1-2mm which is acceptable for this project.

    All the welding was done with 2.6mm 316L electrodes on a DC stick inverter, running at about 70amps. I definately would like a MIG setup for future projects like this, I can imagine it would be much easier for tacking and keeping distortion under control, not to mention final grinding and flushing of the welds without having to worry about any slag inclusions etc.

    anyway here are some pics. The first weld was shaky and irregular because with that box of electrodes, i was having some serious slag inclusion problems for some reason if i didn't weave excessively. All of todays welds with a fresh box of 316L rods didn't have any of the same problems, so maybe i can put that down to poor rod storage on the last lot (though I had the problem since the box was new so maybe a bad batch)

    Sorry for the ramble i'm just happy with the way it's turning out, can't wait to get the wood cut and in place and christen it with some seaside beers

    Top frame getting welded (tacked it up on the concrete slab) :

    Legs going on:

    Finished frame:

    Would love to hear your opinions on what you think the best looking setup for the wooden slats would be (inside and flush with the frame, sitting ontop of the frame, etc)

    thanks for reading!

  • #2
    Frame looks good. If all the welds look like the one closeup photo, you should have a fine piece of furniture when all is said and done.

    One word of advice, make sure you thoroughly clean the surface of all that 316SS tube. All those steel clamps and anything else made of mild steel could leave contaminates on the surface that will cause the tube to rust. Stainless steel will rust if mild steel imbedded in the surface is allowed to remain and start the corrosion process occuring.

    Take some scotchbrite pads and thoroughly rub down all the surfaces of the tubing. Pay close attention to any place you clamped to or that came in contact with anything made of mild steel.


    • #3
      Table Top

      In my opinion the inlaid wood slats would look best. Contrasting the metal and wood with one another. This will require you to add tabs underneath the frame to attach to, just make sure all fasteners are hidden from view. Next you could make a set of chairs to match the table. You will probably want somewhere to sit while soaking up the cold ones and watching the surf roll in. Which ever way you go with the wood top, make sure to coat it many times with a good quality polyurethane finish to help it endure exposure to the elements. Otherwise your wasting your effort to build the top if it doesn't last long. Another option would be to have a thick piece of glass cut to fit. It could be inlaid or set on top of the frame, which ever you like. A wood or glass top sitting on top of the frame would allow you to have a larger surface area than the frame size alone.


      • #4
        thanks for the comments guys,

        most of the welds are ground down to invisible except for the fillets inside the frame and underneath (2 fillets per leg). Thanks for the tip about the mild steel contamination, i will have to spend a fair bit of time scotch briting this frame as it would have picked up a fair bit of mild steel just by being made in the same shed as my other steel things (i changed all abrasive wheels etc to new ones, but metallic dust gets everywhere)

        I think i've decided to go with the wood sitting ontop of the frame, square with the edges- that way there's still a contrasting border on the sides but as you said more surface area

        thanks guys


        • #5
          Wood and metal do not get along that well in a marine environment.
          Make the boards fit loosely. Not too tight.
          Use stainless washers between the stainless and the wood.
          The stainless needs to get air all around it.
          Good thing you chose 316.

          If you used glass/smoked glass it would eliminate the corrosion problem completely.

          If you have the money take it and get it electro polished at a platers.
          It will last longer and look better. It will not show rust in the HAZ after 3 months.


          • #6
            What I meant by putting it on top to gain more surface area would be to extend it several inches outside the frame on all sides. Making it square with the frame equals the same size in square inches or MMs whichever way you measure it. In this case, on top flush with the frame or inlaid the table surface is still the same size. Inlaid, shows off the work you did on top of the frame as well as the sides with smoothing off the welds etc. Glass does the same thing, inlaid or extending past the edges. The only maintenance glass requires is an occasional cleaning.If you decide to go with a glass top inlaid in the frame, take the frame to the glass company so they can make a precise fit the first time. Wood will require sanding and recoating periodically over the years especially if left in direct sunlight no matter how high quality finish you use. But the better stuff will go years longer before needing attention, especially with mutiple coats.
            If you think you might make a matching chair set to go with the table, and use the wood top. Buying all the the wood at the same time from the same supplier will help insure all the wood grain is the same type. I bought some wood to make some cabinets once and needed another piece to complete the project and when I returned to the store weeks later the wood available wasn't a perfect match. But I had to go with what I could get, cause I was too far into the project to turn back.
            Last edited by Bistineau; 06-14-2011, 07:03 PM.


            • #7
              table top options

              You could try a slate top inlaid in the table. It would hold up to just about anything and is not going to need much maintenance over its lifetime.


              • #8
                Look into...

                ...recycled plastic decking "lumber." That too will hold up better than wood.
                Glass tops will break, and granite or slate will break your mug, plates, bottles or any other glass item dropped from as little as a few inches.
                Or use cedar...
                Last edited by Doughboyracer; 06-17-2011, 08:46 AM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Doughboyracer View Post
                  ...recycled plastic decking "lumber." That too will hold up better than wood.
                  Glass tops will break, and granite or slate will break your mug, plates, bottles or any other glass item dropped from as little as a few inches.
                  Or use cedar...
                  Excellent ideas.
                  Maybe the plastic decking lumber could be sanded to give it a "different" appearence.


                  • #10
                    Inlaid teak would be nice.

                    Disagree wholeheartedly with Donald on his comment "SS and wood don't get along well in a marine environment". Just shows he doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. I've been using a combination of teak and stainless in marine fabrication for years. Expensive, but it lasts and lasts.

                    Teak has gone "thru the roof". Years ago when I was building custom swim platforms out of teak and SS, I was paying about $6/bd ft. Last 8/4 teak I bought was over $36/bd ft.

                    The manmade plastic decking will hold up well, just doesn't have the "class" of teak. Another option you may want to consider is ipe. Similar to teak but grown in "managed forests" in S. America. Like teak, it's hard on the tools (carbide recommended) and even harder to drill than teak.

                    I'd weld a SS "lip" around the bottom of the frame, and fabricate a "drop in" insert made of wood (or whatever you choose). Just a couple of fasteners from underneath would hold it in place. That way the insert would be removable for cleaning/off season storage.
                    Last edited by SundownIII; 01-29-2012, 10:18 AM.


                    • #11
                      @ SundownIII

                      I have to laugh, I agree 100% with what you said and had part of that in my reply, I just chose not to state the first part "out loud" so I took it out.


                      • #12
                        Hi guys,

                        Thanks for all the suggestions. I had a chat to a few carpenters that were doing some work on the house and they suggested a timber called Merbau/Kwila (I think its from indonesia, I'm in Australia)

                        The price was alright, I paid around $4 AUD per M. I know what you mean about Teak, I think I saw a price tag of something like 25-26/m

                        Here's the table with insert clamped in place, i'm going to weld some SS brackets onto the underside of the frame and screw the timber in from below, using 3 slats of the timber as bracing.

                        Pretty happy with how it looks, the wood is oil rich and quite hard wearing. I believe it's similar to teak in many ways

                        cheers again!


                        • #13
                          Looks really good.

                          Nice, clean, high grade table you can be proud of for years to come.

                          PS: The only thing I would worry about, especially for an "outdoor table", would be the forces put on the leg to frame connection. Without gussets, there's a lot of leverage put on just the weld joint.

                          One thing you may want to consider, which would still maintain the "clean look", is to add a 1/2" SS rod running parallel to the horizontal frame and down a couple of inches. It would, based on the apparent height, still allow you to pull a chair in under the table. This would greatly strengthen/stiffen the whole table.
                          Last edited by SundownIII; 06-27-2011, 12:06 PM.


                          • #14
                            hi guys,

                            i finally got round to staining, sealing and screwing down the slat top. took me a few weeks of procrastinating and being busy with other things but i'm pretty happy with how the project came out in the end!

                            cheers for the tips


                            • #15
                              Fine Job

                              The table turned out very nice, almost looks "store bought". This is what I was talking about when I mentioned inlaying the wood in the frame rather than having the wood on top of the frame. It makes a nice contrast of the stainless with the wood. It should last a long time in an outdoor environment.Now all you need, is to make a set of matching chairs to sit on while soaking up the suds. That could make a whole other thread or a continuation of this one. It might be a good idea to make one first, to make sure you had the design and measurements right to suit you. Then make three more identical ones after you are satisfied with how the first turned out.I tend to agree with Sundown on adding the extra piece a few inches below the top for extra strength to the legs. But I guess you can judge how stable it is better than the rest of us since you can lay your hands on it and we can't. Enjoy it for years while watching the surf roll in.


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