Here is a quick update of the latest progress on the coffee table.
Before I could start finishing I had to figure out how I was going to secure the bottom shelf to the two ends. The shelf sits in a groove in each end and would probably work just fine being sandwiched between the two ends but I wanted to fasten it together somehow to make sure that everything is nice and rigid. I didn't want any fasteners to be ended up gluing a block in the center of the bottom rail just below the groove for the shelf. This will be completely hidden by the shelf but will allow me to secure the shelf to each end with some screws.
Above you can see the bottom rails with the blocks attached.
With that figured out I turned my efforts to finishing the frame which meant sanding...lots of sanding. I hand sanded all of the components starting at 80 grit, then 100 grit, then 150 grit, and finished with 180 grit. This removed all the machining marks and left the components nice and smooth.
I decided to finish the frame prior to assembly because I thought it would be a lot easier to finish the slats one by one rather than try to finish between them once assembled. In order to keep the tenons clean during the finishing process I masked them off with tape.
Above you can see all the sanded components with the tenons masked laid out on some scrap blocks. The next step was to remove all the sanding dust with the shop vac prior to staining. With the pieces clean I could then apply the stain. I had stained up a few scraps with a number of different stains to help pick a color which was a huge help.
Laura really liked the third from the top which is a "pecan" color from Cabot that I had leftover from a previous project. I was initially thinking of something darker but after seeing the results below I am convinced it was the right choice.
The next step is to apply the polyurethane finish coats but I'm still not sure if I want to go with a gloss or satin finish. I have both on hand so I'll probably finish a few scraps and see how they look.