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How To Make A Floating Tensegrity Table

A tensegrity table is a table the uses the tention of strings or wire to hold it up.  With the use of tension in fishing wire this table is able to hold itself up even when the wood/structure of the table does not touch. I used clear fishing wire for my tensegrity table so that the wires are less noticeable and more focus is on the wood, which looks like it is floating.  This table can be a little tricky since you need a good amount of tension on all the wires in order for the table to stay up.  I recommend having another set of hands to help you keep the tension in the wires as you secure each side.  For my table I decided to do a design I had not seen done before.  I wanted my wooden bowl I made in a previous post to be a nest sitting on a branch.  So, I decided to use wood slices and actual tree branches for my table to give it a real tree branch vibe.  Most tensegrity tables I saw when researching how to make this table were square, round, or triangular shaped pieces of wood, with a few metal tables thrown in.   

Supplies:  

  1. Base and table top.  I bought a slice of wood from Joann Fabrics for my base.  I was already there picking up other supplies for another project and noticed the slices of wood were on sale.  I ended up paying about $1 for the slice of wood.  I had slices of wood in my garage, but they got wet and molded.  So, since I only needed one slice and for $1 I just purchased it.  It was also nice that it was already sanded down nicely.  For the top of my table I used a sturdy stick I found on the ground, which just happened to be the exact shape I was hoping for.   
  1. Wood for the middle of the table.  Again, I used some branches I found outside on the ground.  
  1. Clear fishing wire   
  1. Clamps and/or weights and tape  
  1. Gorilla glue.  If you make a bigger tensegrity table then I recommend using a more secure method to secure your wires besides just glue.  Something to attach the wires.   
  1. A saw or something to cut your wood pieces or branches down to size.  
  1. A drill with a 1/16 drill bit (just a small drill bit that is just big enough for the fishing wire to fit through.  This was the smallest drill bit we had and thus what we used.)  

Optional:  

  1. Wooden bowl I made in this post.  
  1. Bird  Below are a few I found that would also look nice.
  1. Reindeer moss  
  1. Small eggs.  I purchased mine after Easter when they went on sale from Hobby Lobby.    

I started off by roughly measuring how long I wanted my tree branches.  I did this by holding everything up and eyeballing about what measurements looked good.  My boyfriend helped me a lot with this project, and I definitely recommend having an extra pair of hands to help hold things.  Once we agreed on measurements, we just marked the tree branches with a pencil.  We just used a hand saw miter box to cut each of our branches down to size.  We then measured and made a few more cuts.  For the center piece we decided to cut two branches at a 45 degree angle then glue them together.  We also cut a smooth flat bottom for the longer piece. This piece could have been glued to the wood slice base, but we decided to make it more secure by screwing in a screw.  Make sure the piece that attaches to your base is taller/goes higher than the piece coming from the top of the of the table.  Once the center piece was in place, we placed small “x” where we wanted to drill holes for the fishing wires to go.  The number of strings you will need will depend on the shape of the table top.  One of us held the top of the table as the other measured where the wires will go. We then used our smallest drill bit (1/16) to make 4 holes in our wood slice base.  Once the holes are made, I would recommend staining the wood slice, because the super glue does show on the light wood color.  When the wires are attached it will be difficult to go back and stain the wood.   

Now it is time to attach your wires.  I made a fishing line knot at the top of my wire, which then slid over the branches.  I also did this type of knot for the center pieces.  I recommend doing the center pieces first.  Once they were attached they seemed to stay in place pretty well and made for one less thing to worry about when trying to get the tension right for the other wires.  Since the fishing wire was clear it was difficult to tape pictures to show how to make this particular knot.  Other knots will work as well.  I recommend watching a video of how to make a fishing line knot.  You put the wire around the branch, then wrap that same wire around itself a few times.  Then with the tail of that wire you feed it through the top loop, and then through the loop you just made and pull it tight.  It helped having a second person to hold the wire in place on the branch so it did not slide off when creating this knot.  Once my center wire was in place, and loose wires were attached to each of my branches I started to feed the wires through the holes we made in the slice of wood base.  I fed all the wires through their proper holes.  Before you start gluing things it is important to make sure the tension on all of your wires is correct and holding up your table before you start to glue anything down.  I used small clamps and tape to keep the tension in my wires while I glued each wire down. 

At first, I only used a small amount of gorilla glue to hold my wires.  I then cut my extra wire as short as possible.  While testing the amount of presser and weight that could be applied to the table one of my wires came loose.  Fishing wire is pretty slippery and it just slipped through the dried glue.  I attempted to make knots at the ends of my wire, but the knots were to small and the wires still went through the holes in the base. It was also difficult to keep the tension in the wire while trying to tie the knots.  We also tried using a small screw to wrap the wire around and screw it into the wood, but the screw kept breaking our wire.   So, we attempted the glue again, but with more glue.  I even tried filling the hole a little with hot glue, but the wire just slipped right through that.  So, in the end I applied gorilla glue along the bottom of my wood base and all along the extra wire, instead of cutting the extra wire off.  I then clamped and allowed everything to dry again.  In the morning I applied more gorilla glue, but this time to the top of the wood base, which is visible.  It seems to be holding better now, but I would want to use hooks or something to hold the wires if I did a bigger table in the future.   

Now it is time to add the finishing touches.  I placed some reindeer moss inside the wooden bowl I made.  Check out that link here, and make sure to go to the free library to download the file to make your own.  Then I added some small eggs and my bird.  Depending on your branch you may need glue or wire to keep your bird nest and bird secure on your branch.  I was able to get both my bird and the nest to sit nicely on my branch, that I did not need to use glue or wire to attach them.   

There was a lot of measuring, cutting, remeasuring and recutting in this project.  I was very surprised with just how much pressure and weight this little table can hold without issues.  I applied quite a bit of pressure in my video, and it did not even seem to mind.  Maybe one day we may make a tensegrity table on a bigger scale, but for now it makes for a nice décor piece that is fun to show off.   

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. juan

    very interesting, looking forward to next time, thank you

    1. Katie

      I am glad you enjoyed it and took the time to leave a comment. Thank you.

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