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Project by CincyRW posted 06-13-2014 02:01 AM 1130 views 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this table as part of a community education woodworking class through the Cincinnati Art Academy. I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.

The stretchers and legs are made of S4S poplar from a big box store. The top is oak, which I purchased at Woodcraft.

The stretchers and legs are mortise and tennon. I cut the mortises using a router jig that the class instructor had made and set up himself. The stretcher tennons were cut on a table saw using a tennoning jig. I cut the taper on the legs using a band saw, as the school didn’t have a tapering jig for their table saw. In hindsight, this sucked as I had lots of “cleanup” to do on the bandsaw cuts. I cleaned up the cuts using a hand plane, by the way. It was a little awkward at first, but the plane was key in helping me blend in the taper in and keep them even across the 4 legs.

For the top, I cut two sections out of the oak board, jointed them and glued them up with 3 biscuits. I intentionally chose kind of a weird pattern in the grain for the top surface as I thought it would make it look interesting. The bottom is pretty symmetrical, even lines of grain – pretty, but honestly not that interesting to look at.

I had trouble gluing up the top. I may not have had my biscuit cuts completely dialed in so the boards went together a bit uneven. This really wasn’t an issue as I had to plane down the top anyway to get it flat. I just planed the seam between the two boards while I was at it. A guy in the class had brought in his hand planes which seemed to be the absolute perfect tool to use for this. I really enjoyed working with those hand planes. When I got the table top dead flat, I cut it square and to the proper size on the table saw. I then cut the bevel on the bottom on my brand new router table (seriously, this was like the 4th piece of wood I had sent through my router table).

When I picked up the poplar, it was very green. I placed the wood outside in the sunlight over a weekend and what a difference it made. It only took a couple hours until you could see a very noticeable change in the wood. It went from green to greenish brown to brown. The longer I kept it in the sun, the more brown the poplar turned. I really could see a very noticeable difference in the wood only after a couple hours in the sun. I’d highly recommend this if you’re not nuts about the green cast to poplar.

I finished the entire table in a few coats of Danish oil. I’ve never used it before and it really seems to be very easy to work with and gave me exactly the finish I was looking for. I topped it off with a single coat of paste wax, but I really don’t think that was necessary.

What I learned:
Be meticulous. You can’t get nice tight joints if you rush or don’t sweat the setup of your machines.
Expect to spend much more time than you thought with setup and measuring and dialing things in. I probably spent double the time doing this than I did cutting or assembling.

I’m very pleased with the way this turned out. I learned a bunch of new skills that will serve me well. This project really increased my confidence. Thanks for looking!

9 comments so far

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

392 posts in 2484 days

#1 posted 06-13-2014 01:50 PM

Nice job and nice write-up. I also just used poplar for the first time – and I really enjoy photo-reactive woods. If you think wood is unchanging, this is a great reminder! And color is just one change….

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View JTH213's profile


11 posts in 1388 days

#2 posted 06-13-2014 02:28 PM

I agree with Henry. Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Nice job on the table too! I like how the top appears to float.

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2283 days

#3 posted 06-13-2014 04:05 PM

This table turned out nicely.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View ColonelTravis's profile


1154 posts in 1311 days

#4 posted 06-14-2014 01:22 AM

That’s interesting about the color change. Dumb question, sorry, but once it turns, the green never comes back?

View robscastle's profile


3286 posts in 1621 days

#5 posted 06-14-2014 06:21 AM

I will give you the thumbs up! well documented and presented.

-- Regards Robert

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

21513 posts in 1755 days

#6 posted 06-14-2014 06:34 AM

Great project, nice write up on the process.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View CincyRW's profile


156 posts in 1067 days

#7 posted 06-16-2014 01:03 PM

Colonel Travis – as far as I know the color change is permanent.

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

582 posts in 776 days

#8 posted 07-16-2015 12:45 PM

Very nice, CincyRW! I’ve always want to make some of these. Well done!

I picked up the use of Danish oil from a YouTube provider. I use the regular and medium walnut stained versions. I want to get some other species tints, eventually. Good stuff to work with.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Upstate NY USA

View oldnovice's profile


5638 posts in 2785 days

#9 posted 07-16-2015 07:08 PM

You wrote,”I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.”
And you should be, it is a very eye pleasing project!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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