Charles Rohlfs Inspired Coal Hod Coffee Table

Charles Rohlfs Inspired Coal Hod Coffee Table
Charles Rohlfs Inspired Coal Hod Coffee Table
Charles Rohlfs Inspired Coal Hod Coffee Table
Charles Rohlfs Inspired Coal Hod Coffee Table
Charles Rohlfs Inspired Coal Hod Coffee Table

My first woodworking project some thirty years ago was a coffee table for the family room in our first home. My wife wanted a new smaller coffee table for the family room and the first coffee table has now been relegated to the basement.

Well for the new coffee table I decided to base it on Charles Rohlfs 1900 Coal Hod (or coal storage box).

I modified it a bit to make it more functional as a coffee table extending the top beyond the legs. Rohlfs coal hod is about 30 inches wide and 14 inches high. Unlike the original coal hod I did not carve the top. I made the coffee table 24 inches in diameter and 16 inches high.

Every time I build a new piece I want to try something new. In this case the challenge for me, as a novice turner, was to turn the large centre bowl. It is 12 inches high and 19.75 inches in diameter. It is made up of twelve segment rings.

I was concerned about the weight hanging off the end of the lathe so I turned it in three pieces (of four segments each) to reduce the mass and get each segment to its circular shape. Then I glued the three pieces together for the final turning and shaping. My small low budget lathe does not have outboard turning capability, so I want to thank the guys at the Wasaga Beach Woodworkers Club for the use of their lathe.

The coffee table is made from oak and finished with a Lee Valley Fumed Light Oak Analine Dye. The bottom portion is finished with shellac and the top with satin finish urethane and then waxed.

— Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario



That’s certainly a very clever adaptation. Your wife must be delighted.


“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

I’m going to quote Steve Palm here Peter.
“Man, you got skills”
What a great idea and what fun is a project if it doesn’t stretch you a little.

Very nice work!

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

You do great work.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Excellent reproduction. That looks like it took a long time to glue up then turn, but I bet it was a lot of fun.

CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

Thanks for looking and for the comments.

I’d like to make another one of these tables. At the time, I had not done much turning, so I guess what you don’t know can’t hurt you. I had a few guys at the woodworkers club coaching me, but they sure kept a good distance when that bowl was spinning. I wonder if there is an easier way to make such a large bowl..

wow this is amazing great build.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker