Federal Table

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Project by TheCaver posted 04-11-2009 01:57 AM 3448 views 9 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My Federal table is complete except for the hardware! Big thanks to Tommy MacDonald for the inspiration to create this Federal table. In case you don’t know, Tommy is a graduate of the North Bennett Street School and is a master of the Federal style. I learned a TON of new skills on this project and there were a lot of firsts. I followed Tommy’s example and did a LOT of this by hand…I was nervous at first, but in the end, I learned that its actually a lot easier to wreck a project with power tools than it is using chisels! It’s also a lot more precise using hand tools, so I will be doing a lot more by hand from now on.


First handcut dovetails
First time making bandings other than just simple stripes (this has opened a whole new world, creatively)
First time cockbeading. Hand mitered! After all of the work on the drawer, cutting the rabbets was nerve wracking!
First time inlaying compound mitred cuffs! Crazy!
First solid wood drawer bottoms, hand beveled with a plane

Now, I must admit that I skipped a few things that were on Tommy’s table, like the sand shaded fan. I don’t have access to a set of gouges, but I’m working on it! And I could not find holly or the materials necessary to make inlay tools for stringing, though I did some proof pieces. I’ll be making a full Federal bedroom suite and it will have the fans and stringing, no worries!

The pics show a large color difference, though that is not present to the eye, I think its the grain orientation and chatoyance playing tricks on the camera.

Finish was 3 coats of tung oil followed by 3 coats of shellac, then 2 coats of wax rubbed in with 0000 steel wool.

On the top surface, I wet sanded with oil to fill the pores in some, but I wanted a LITTLE texture, so I didn’t completely fill them. I knocked the gloss back with steel wool twice on this part, once between coats of shellac and once with the wax.

This piece seemed overwhelming when I saw Tommy’s but anyone can do this, really!

-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

15 comments so far

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4136 days

#1 posted 04-11-2009 02:29 AM

Very, very nice! Congratulations. I really like your end product . . . very clean with wonderful details and finish. Looks like you pushed the envelop and reaped the benefits of extending your skill set. I really like the bandings! I especially like the subtle split banding on the top edge . . . you got the Seymour brothers technique down pat!


View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3720 days

#2 posted 04-11-2009 02:31 AM

That is a table to be proud of: nice work!

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View TheCaver's profile


288 posts in 3836 days

#3 posted 04-11-2009 02:34 AM

Thanks…I should have used satinwood and a better figured piece of wood for the bandings, but it was all I had on hand….that and a huge piece of mahogany would have been nice!


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3587 days

#4 posted 04-11-2009 03:35 AM

Very nice. Brian said it best, something to be proud of.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View pyromedic602's profile


164 posts in 3745 days

#5 posted 04-11-2009 04:02 AM

a very beautiful table. wonderful craftsmanship.

-- Pyromedic602, free wood is always good wood

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#6 posted 04-11-2009 04:36 AM

I already knew that you were much more of a perfectionist than me. It really shows in this table. The level of execution in the tiniest details is evident in every photo. Congratulations on producing a true signature piece!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18269 posts in 3673 days

#7 posted 04-11-2009 04:37 AM

My oh my, you do take to inspiration well! Very nice table and superb workmanship.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View musician's profile


38 posts in 3352 days

#8 posted 04-11-2009 05:17 AM

Absolutely stunning details, a beautiful Federal table!

-- Joe,Texas,

View Bloonose's profile


49 posts in 3548 days

#9 posted 04-11-2009 05:49 PM

Nice work

View milehigh's profile


57 posts in 3337 days

#10 posted 04-11-2009 07:25 PM

You can hold your head high on this one. I am new here and am blown away by the talent on this board. Nice documentation on the learning curve and hand vs power tools. That is a big part of it for me..and i have a long way to go to get this good,but appreciate the words of encouragement at the end.


View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1305 posts in 3770 days

#11 posted 04-12-2009 12:39 AM

Very nice, awesome work!

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View steiner's profile


284 posts in 3347 days

#12 posted 04-12-2009 06:50 AM

Oh, that is perfection!

-- Scott

View jcees's profile


1058 posts in 3796 days

#13 posted 04-20-2009 03:54 AM

Lovely, lovely take on the style! And very nicely done too!


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View ToddE's profile


143 posts in 3932 days

#14 posted 10-04-2009 03:36 AM

I appreciate the work you have done with this table. Very nice and I like the detail in the checkered banding and the inlays. Quality job.

-- Allegheny Woodshop

View CreekWoodworker's profile


409 posts in 3295 days

#15 posted 11-15-2009 09:43 PM

Wow, nice detail.

-- Mike ...Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction

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