End table made from an airplane window

End table made from an airplane window

I just finished this end table. The glass is the sliding window from a USAF KC-135 Stratotanker. Since the window went bad and the glass isn't repairable, someone saved it and asked me to make a table for them. I was given free-reign on the design. I asked what they'd like as far as design. I was told to do whatever I wanted and "go nuts".
From the cockpit, these are the same as the window this table is made from.
I've done one of these before. I never really liked this one, but the recipient did so I guess that is what matters. The window is an odd shape. There is not a single 90 degree angle on the glass. Eighty eight is the closest it gets. So I came up with a floating design and everyone liked it, but it just didn't seem quite right to me.
So this was a chance to make one of these that I did like. I started by gluing furring strips onto the rabbet that runs along one side of the glass to make a better shape for my frame to go on. Gorilla glue worked well. I skipped some photos here, but cutting a big fucking groove in a piece of wood with a table saw isn't all that interesting. The glass is about 1.25" thick and the metal frame is about 1" thick. The entire thing weighs about 30 pounds, give or take.
So here's what I was going for. Fill the empty space between the window and eternity to make a more square shape. Yes, the corners weren't perfect, but I cut that shit by hand! Miters aren't easy. the pieces of the frame around the window are held on with gorilla glue. Nice thing about having a huge, inch thick glass panel is that expansion isn't really an issue.
These are the triangles that make the weird shape a little more square. I glued narrower strips to the triangles to fill the voids between the window and the rest of the table top.
Then I domino'ed that shit together. Luckily the mahogany is crazy stable and fairly narrow or I'd be a bit concerned about expansion. I've actually never had a problem with that before and I've built a fair bit of stuff. These pieces came together better than I'd hoped.
They fit so tight that the clamps were more of a precaution than a necessity.
Incidentally, this is why the window was bad. Not the bubbling, but that dark part on the right side of the picture. It is arcing and scorching of the heating element. Once that happens, the window is done. These particular windows usually crack because of people slamming them shut, but this one committed suicide in a different way.
I welded up a base. At this point I still need to make the shelf. I didn't take a bunch of pictures of the welding because I have to do it outside, in 85 degree weather, 100% humidity, and don't really feel like taking pictures while wearing big gloves, pouring sweat, and fumbling around with all the tools and clamps and shit. Plus I still need to grind the welds smooth and paint. Yes, I know it is dangerous to weld galvanized steel. No, I can't get un-coated on Okinawa. Everything rusts here. No, I don't care.
Painting the negative spaces black.
It came out pretty sharp.
This is the shelf for the center. It was pretty stupid to rough cut the triangle before glue up, since it made clamping a bitch. I resawed about 5 feet of a mahogany 2×4 to get the stock needed for the shelf.
I had to do a template for the shelf, to make sure it would fit. This turned out to be a good move.
Cutting out the shelf.
Shaping it. This piece of wood was a pain to hold with my moxon. Luckily I managed to get it done without splitting it.
And a little smoothing action….
It was about at this point that I realized that the design would be better if I closed the open sides on the bottom. Not only were the aesthetics not really doing it for me, but the base was a bit wobbley. Good thing the black is just primer and not the final paint because it is back to the welder and grinder.
The final wood piece. Copper inlay of the aircraft type that the window came from "KC-135" and my signature. This will go on the bottom.
Starting the finishing. I used natural danish oil, to be followed by a few coats of wiping poly.
And the oil on the top.
I added cross-pieces to the base which added a lot of rigidity but unfortunately came out a little bent. It rocked fairly badly and the top wouldn't sit flat anymore. So I rigged up a red-neck frame puller. It got the distortion down to about 1/8" off of plumb and at that point the rigidity of the table top is enough to pull it straight and fully eliminate the rocking.
The top is screwed on to the base. Since the window isn't square (the corner that looks like 90 deg is actually 88), the top doesn't sit with perfectly even overhangs on the base. I also only have about .5" of wood to screw into for the glass edges of the frame so I had to be very careful in how I positioned the frame.
The finished signature piece. Copper wire inlay is the way to go, but I used pre-flattened wire this time. Next time I'll smash it flat myself, this was a bit thicker than I'd like.
And how it attaches to the base. Plus some less than stellar welds.
And from some other angles.
I thought about doing a full shelf, but I wanted to mimic the oddball shape of the glass. No, that's not true. I didn't actually have enough wood left so I had to make an oddball shaped shelf.
I like this one a lot better than the first design. Thanks for looking!
Source : Dimsdale53 from Reddit