This past weekend I finished work on a new table design made from Walnut. I showed its design previously in another post. Now, with the final coats of finish on it I wanted show you the completed project, talk about the details and get your take on its design.
The legs were cut from 8/4 stock using a template that I made from 1/4″ hardboard. I traced the pattern onto the stock and used the bandsaw to rough out the legs within about 1/16″ of the line. The curves were smoothed with an oscillating spindle sander, a card scraper and finally hand sanding. I cut the joints into the legs before doing this shaping so that I could use square stock while executing the joinery – I’ll talk more about that a bit later.
All of the other parts of the table were cut from 4/4 stock. The curves on the both sets of upper and also the lower end stretchers were done in a similar manner to the legs, except I used double-stick tape between each two pieces and then cut and shaped each set together. For the upper end stretchers, I planed the stock down to about 5/8″. The notches in these pieces that fit over the legs were done on the table saw, nibbling away until I achieved a close fit.
The upper and lower curved stretchers and the legs were both mortised using the mortising jig I posted about here. These joints were assembled with loose tenons. I assembled the two end leg sections first. The top stretchers are attached into the tops of the legs with Miller Dowels. I had never used these before but, I thought that this was a perfect application for them. Once the two end leg sections were assembled, the cross stretchers were glued up to complete the base of the table. For the lower cross stretcher I again used contrasting Miller Dowels to join it to the end assemblies.
The top was glued up from three Walnut boards that I selected for a good grain match. The top needed to be assembled to the base while allowing for wood movement.. To accomplish this, a shallow stopped grove was routed into the upper end stretchers on their underside. These groves were drilled with an oversize screw hole to allow the top to expand and contract across the grain without splitting. The top was fastened to the base through these holes with four wood screws.
The entire piece was hand scraped and sanded with 220 grit. The finish is three coats of thinned General Finishes Arm-R-Seal scuff sanded between coats with 320 grit. The final coat was rubbed out with a piece of paper grocery bag to remove any remaining dust nibs.
My aim with this design was to create a piece in an Arts and Crafts style while adding some Asian influence. I was inspired by looking at some works in the Greene & Greene style as well as some James Krenov pieces.
I did not want too much ornamentation on the table because I thought that the wood could speak for itself without too much competing detail. As a result, I opted to use subtle curves repeated in the legs and stretchers. The only slight ornamentation was the use of a contrasting colored dowels to join the lower cross stretcher.
I like the way that Krenov’s cabinet pieces sometimes float above a base. In this vein, I attempted to create some negative space and lightness in this piece by raising the top off of the stretchers. My thought was that this would create some visual interest and along with the leg styling, offer some Asian influence to the piece. The edge treatment on the table top again was simple. Just a hand planed chamfer on all edges so as to not compete with the wood.
All in all, I’m happy with the way that the table turned out. I think that it generally conveys what I wanted when I set out to design it. The wood is beautiful in and of itself and I hope that the subtleties in the design allow that to come through. If there were anything that I might change on another version of this piece, I might try curving or tapering the legs on both outward facing sides rather than just one. That detail might create a bit more of a balanced look when viewing the table from the ends.
I’d enjoy hearing what you think about the design – good and bad. Do you think I hit the mark in obtaining an Asian/Arts and Crafts feel? Please let me know your thoughts – you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave comments here using the comments link at the end of the post.