Notes from the Shop...

A Tale of Two Tables

I recently built two very different dining tables. Below are several photos of the pieces in progress.

Mahogany Pedestal Table: The first three below show some of the complex joinery for the pedestal base.

Pedestal Table: the banding and inlay work. The fan inlay (a la Garrett Hack) was the first I've used this detail. This was a practice in cherry.

Maple Extension Table: Progression of refinement to the leg to apron intersection... On a different note, based on an article in FWW, I used extra long (48") heavy-duty drawer slides from Lee Valley to make a set of hybrid wood slides and was thrilled with how they came out. But they are very heavy!

Maple Extension Table: Walnut and ebony corner inlay progression. I make inlays of this type by gluing the smaller wood pieces to a thin (~3/16 in.) backer board. This makes the inlays easy to work with when I hand plane them to fit. I sneak up on a perfect fit by planing the edges of the inlay pieces with an inward angle so they are thinnest on the bottom (i.e., edges of backer board) & widest on top (i.e., edges of walnut and ebony bits) and then use a sharp marking knife to trace their outline onto the wood they are going in. I use my 2" wide Japanese chisel to further establish the outlines and then rout away most of the material to just under the full thickness of the inlay. I stay about an 1/8" away from the knife lines when routing and clean up the edges with very sharp chisels. This whole method creates a slightly too-small recess (by design) for the inlay. I get a just-right fit by planing away the edges of the inlay (usually with my No. 7 jointer mounted blade-side-up in my bench vise) until they fit tightly. I glue them in so they are about 1/16 in. proud of the surface and then take very light shavings to smooth them flush with the rest of the table top surface. Lots of thoughtful handwork required makes this kind of activity one of my favorite things to do in woodworking!


May 2010

Previous Notes from the Shop
Dec 2009 - Urban Forestry (Walnut Tree)
June 2009 - Tapered Aprons
April 2009 - Coffee Table Bench
Fall 2008 - Cabinet -> Console