Coffee Table Design Idea: The Conic Coffee Table

My educational background is in Mathematics.  I particularly enjoyed Geometry and Calculus due to the graphing nature, as well as, the computational aspect.

Now, I will assume the reader has some knowledge/recollection of high school algebra to know that these four sections are made by passing a plane through a cone in four different ways.  Here is a diagram to refresh your memory courtesy of

Conic sections.
Conic sections.

I have a fantastic piece of Walnut that is begging to be shaped into an ellipse.

Notice the Walnut grain.
Notice the Walnut grain.

While trying to preserve the theme of conic sections (and keeping my wife and professors pleased that I am using my education in some way) I had an epiphany.  I could use the other three sections (parabola, circle, and hyperbola) to make up the base of the table.  I would use the parabola as one set of legs perpendicular to the table at one end, the hyperbola would be connected by the circle (possibly to the vertices of each other) and tilted at some arbitrary angle to connect to the table at one end of the hyperbola and the edge of the circle.  Below is a crude sketch of my design.

Preliminary design.
Preliminary design.

Of course this is all design speculation at the moment and this table would be particularly small (not a typical 48″-36″ long table).  I may play with the design and joinery options more before tackling such a table, maybe even make a full size prototype.

I think this would be quite the addition to a mathematician’s home decor and a nice conversation piece.  Maybe even set a conic model (Photo courtesy of on top to show off it’s origin.  Perhaps I will decide to make one of these one day too.

Conic Model
Conic Model



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