Walnut table

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Project by Schwieb posted 10-05-2014 11:44 AM 1715 views 1 time favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Making custom pieces for family and friends is a real joy for me to do. I had the opportunity to make this table of my own design for my friends Jack and Mari. Jack was one of my professors in dental school, and we have remained colleagues and friends for over 35 years. The provenance for the table begins with the marble top. It was a fireplace mantle in a home in Indiana built in the 1850’s by Mari’s great-grandfather. Her grandfather then owned the property and in 1922 the home burned down. The broken marble top was salvaged and has moved, passed on, and stored for the past 90 years.

The broken top was repaired and I basically designed and built a table around it. We felt it was important to keep the original size and the crack just added to the character. The first challenge was to find some walnut. I had crossed paths through my woodturning club, with an elderly man that said he had a “shed full” of walnut and cherry he had sawn up in North Carolina many years ago”. I gathered as much as I could afford and brought it to the shop. I glued up and turned legs, nothing fancy. I was thinking a simple table with traditional mortise and tenon joinery, half blind dovetail drawers with simple wooden slides, built up moldings and trim details. For example the drawer fronts came from a single board so the grain pattern is continuous across the front. The little inlay detail under the front added a little flair the project and softened the design a bit. It is all solid walnut except the drawer bottoms.

I also decided to make a hidden compartment in the back of the center drawer to store details of the history of the piece for future generations. I used some small rare earth magnets to hold the compartment in place.

The finish is tung oil and Watco satin wax. They are coming this afternoon to pick it up, I do hope the like it, but if the don’t I’d be glad to keep it. I estimate I have about 80 hours invested in this.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

20 comments so far

View sedcokid's profile


2719 posts in 3200 days

#1 posted 10-05-2014 11:55 AM

Ken, what a beautiful table for Jack and Mari. Some real history in this piece and it will live on for many years in this well built piece of furniture. I am sure that this will be an heirloom that will be handed down from generation to generation. The hidden compartment is a real plus as well. Congratulations on a Job Well Done!

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View spud72's profile


324 posts in 3096 days

#2 posted 10-05-2014 12:12 PM

Excellent work, great looking table

-- Guy,PEI

View tyvekboy's profile


1512 posts in 2615 days

#3 posted 10-05-2014 12:25 PM

Nice build. Great details. Itʻs neat to build around history. Iʻm sure theyʻll like it.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2936 days

#4 posted 10-05-2014 12:25 PM

Beautiful design and build Ken. Your friends are bound to like it and I’m sure their family will too. I love the secret compartment, a great idea with the magnets to hold it in place.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 2555 days

#5 posted 10-05-2014 12:26 PM

Attractive table. Nice work.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Woodbridge's profile


3479 posts in 2020 days

#6 posted 10-05-2014 01:37 PM

Like you I enjoy building projects out of re-purposed items (like your marble top) that have some history and significance to them. The secret compartment is a nice addition. Overall a beautiful table.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Roger's profile


20574 posts in 2406 days

#7 posted 10-05-2014 01:50 PM

Very nice craftsmanship. Very nice build.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View CFrye's profile


9259 posts in 1442 days

#8 posted 10-05-2014 01:51 PM

Way to go, Dr. Ken! Beautiful.

-- God bless, Candy

View Mustang67's profile


102 posts in 1156 days

#9 posted 10-05-2014 01:55 PM

Very nice! Walnut is one of my favorites, and you’ve done a magnificent job with it. Plus the marble is cool without the history, but with it, the table is just awesome. Thanks for posting.

View helluvawreck's profile


25261 posts in 2469 days

#10 posted 10-05-2014 01:56 PM

Ken, you did a great job on this table.

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 shipwright's profile (online now)


7469 posts in 2400 days

#11 posted 10-05-2014 03:01 PM

Very nicely done Ken. Your joinery looks top notch and the design is crisp.
The story always adds another aspect to these pieces and this one has a great story. In fact my only complaint is that you omitted a detail photo of what looks like a lovely inlay.

Thanks, lovely table.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Sodabowski's profile


2308 posts in 2435 days

#12 posted 10-05-2014 03:20 PM

I like it! The contrast between the framing and the top is sweet :)

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View Gerry's profile


43 posts in 933 days

#13 posted 10-05-2014 04:39 PM

That is absolutely stunning! Beautiful work.

-- Gerry-Abbotsford BC

View drewpy's profile


593 posts in 959 days

#14 posted 10-05-2014 05:38 PM

Beautiful work and nice story. Thanks for sharing.

Nice looking shop!!!

-- Drew in Ohio -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View Lee Leitner's profile

Lee Leitner

52 posts in 1274 days

#15 posted 10-05-2014 09:57 PM

Very nice Ken. Good work on the joinery it looks very tight. Is the top drop in? It is a very clean design I am very impressed. You kept true to it’s heritage.

-- Lee

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