The top of our tabouret is a solid piece of oak that is an inch thick, and 18 inches in diameter. You’ll probably have to glue up a panel for that, but do remember to keep your grain running in the same direction. Take some time to ensure that your jointed edges are as square as possible to the face sides, because flattening this panel out is very important to the final fit of the top to the bottom superstructure. Gluing your pieces in an arc will only make life difficult. I usually start working against the grain because it cuts more easily this way. The most expedient way to approach this is to make it flat, then smooth, rather than trying to do both at the same time.
If, on the other hand, you have pieces of oak that are an inch thick and 18 inches wide, go stand over there so the rest of us can despise your good fortune at a distance.
Once everything is trued as well as you can make it, use the pattern mentioned earlier and trace out the required circle. Notice that I avoided the big streak of sapwood on the side closest to the vice. A little care will go a long way toward making a harmoniously uniform panel, which is especially noticeable in something like a table top.
Now, you could cut this out with a variety of methods. The easiest by far is to use the bandsaw, though you need to be sure to have the outer edge supported to give a square cut, and lubricate the table so the big chunk of oak doesn’t hang up from the friction. For a radius this large, the easiest way to do this with hand tools is simply to keep taking slices off the outside, ever adding to the number of facets until you approximate a circle. Either way, make sure to fair the outside at the end with a rasp so as to leave a smooth, continuous curve.
And for those of you poking fun at the excessively festive coffee mug in the background, I’ll have you know I don’t drink out of anything so saccharine!
That’s where I put hot water so that I can warm up my glue bottle.