After seeing the gear-filled Executive desk by Dale Mathis during a trip to Las Vegas, Thomas Lerchenfeld was inspired to build a coffee table version. His table design (seen here on imgur) was inspired by, and is very close in design to, the one seen in the video below by Brett Withjack. It looks beautiful by itself.
However, after seeing Lerchenfeld’s version with the gears, it seems almost meant to have some sort of mechanism or even electronic gadget beneath its clear section.
Lerchenfeld‘s build started with obtaining parts for his table, including two slabs of 2 3/4″ thick pine that were used for the sides, glass in the middle, and MDF gears to go underneath. The six gears he used were sourced from Etsy seller Gino White, which at $40 seems like a bargain compared to having to buy and program a CNC router for just one job. This would normally restrict your options somewhat, but knowing when something is best left to others can certainly help keep a project on track. According to Lerchenfeld, “I had a few people ask me if I made the gears or if I would have considered it. Honestly the answer is no. I can do some decent woodworking, but when it comes to that I’ll leave it to professionals that have more tools and years in the business.”
The gears were then painted to give them a rustic metallic look. Although actual metal gears would certainly have been interesting, sourcing them would have likely cost significantly more money.
After he had all the ingredients, he sanded his slabs of wood to make them roughly flat (he would recommend a planer if you have access to one). A lip was then put on the edges of the wood and a router held the tempered glass in between.
The wood was then stained a dark red color and five layers of clear coat were added. Even with this many coats, he reports that there are still a few rough spots, and that he may add even more clear coat at a future date.
1×4 pieces of lumber were screwed together in a box to form the legs, which would also act as supports for the gears. Each gear was attached to another piece of wood with dowels, one of which is turned using a motor via a hole in its center.
The electronics for this build aren’t entirely finished, but seem to at least be workable. The motor he’s using is meant to run at 12V, but he’s running it off of a USB source. Although this means it is only powered by 5V, it seems to be sufficient for the application. The motor, and thus the gears, are further slowed down using a pulse-width modulation (PWM) speed controller. It looks pretty good.
Lerchenfeld says this project took him about two months to complete. Like many projects, much of that time was due to procrastination or other more pressing things. He thinks he could get it done in two weeks with a solid effort.
Though done for now, Lerchenfeld says he still has ideas he wants to add to the piece, including an infinity mirror and tablet/phone holder. He says, “If you’ve ever seen [an infinity mirror], you know they create the illusion of going on forever. I probably have enough depth to create one, and that would be a very cool looking centerpiece.” Referring to the tablet/phone holder, he continues, “Not just your normal ‘here’s a place to set my tablet’ kind. It would be a little more intricate, so that when your tablet was in the spot, everything (tablet included) would be flush with the table. If you wanted to take it out, you could push a button that would raise the whole area under the tablet up, so that when you removed the tablet you would still have a flush table.”
Lerchenfeld thought this was a fun project and one that does not take a lot of tools to accomplish. He used only a miter saw, palm and belt sanders (though you’d only really need a palm sander), and a drill!