Dining table

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Project by Carey Mitchell posted 11-26-2014 03:26 AM 1513 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As with many of my projects, this started out simple—just refinish 4 chairs that were my mother’s. They were in rough shape, but I got the old finish off, sanded and primed. My wife wanted the chairs and table legs painted with gloss white lacquer, some special stuff in a decorating magazine, rather than the gallon of white semi-gloss that I had. The table top was to be painted with a special chalk-flat paint, then sprayed (can) with a clear gloss lacquer, again rather than the gallon I had.

Got the chairs done, added new cushions and the result was great.

Attention then turned to the table, which had been in a storage building for about 60 years. When I got it home and cleaned it up, the veneer was loose on both sides of the top, and the tops of all 4 legs were split and unusable. Throughout the work, I wondered why it was constructed entirely of poplar, including the top.

I made new legs, using poplar as in the original. In tapering the sides of the legs, I was reluctant to use either the factory-made metal tapering jig, or my shop built jig, as the table saw blade would have to project much too high for comfort. Then I ran across Glen Huey’s video ( ) – doing it on the jointer was the quickest, simplest thing I ever saw. Although Glen does not mention it, adding a stop block to allow the legs to be slowly pivoted down onto the blade makes it foolproof and MUCH SAFER. I strongly recommend: DON’T DO THIS WITHOUT THE STOP BLOCK !

The table top was not usable as both sides were twisted, not surprising for poplar, so I decided that the replacement had to be maple. The original plan was to use a special ultra-flat chalk paint from the decorator – two entire cycles of priming, spraying and then removing that crap showed it to be unworkable. The wife then said “why not stain it” – why could we not have started with this?

Transtint Brown mahogany dye gave the color I wanted, followed by 3 coats of semi-gloss lacquer, worked down wet with 600 grit. Then rubbed out with rubbing compound and a coat of wax.

Now, for the rest of the story….....

As I went through this project, I kept wondering why poplar was used. I saw several things that indicated that, although it was very well-designed (except for the leg joints) and executed, this was not a factory made table. I then related it back to another small end table I have that my father had made during his tenure in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) prior to WWII. Apparently, he learned woodworking and built pulpits for some rural churches in Murray County, GA. (I built an altar table for our Boy Scout Camp – see project on page 2). The leg design on the small end table was nearly identical and it was – all poplar ! I suppose that’s what they had for the students to work with.

Sooo, I have rebuilt a table my dad built over 70 years ago – the only original parts are the apron and slides.
I will probably make new slides – as soon as I can find some info on making them – anyone have any info?

Now I’m glad I decided to move forward with the table; now that we know its history, it will go to my son’s place next week, yet another family heirloom passed down.

3 comments so far

View Mark's profile


973 posts in 2180 days

#1 posted 11-26-2014 04:12 PM

Ain’t it a small world. Very nice Mitch. That’s cool you rebuilt your dad’s table.

-- Mark

View BillBrasky's profile


40 posts in 1939 days

#2 posted 11-26-2014 05:26 PM

The table looks great. You will enjoy it from many years to come.

View Rick S...'s profile

Rick S...

10913 posts in 3238 days

#3 posted 11-28-2014 04:43 AM

Very nice indeed! Well done! Thanks for Posting.


-- I Chose "The Road Less Travelled" Now I'm Totally Lost! (Ontario, CANADA)

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