Curly oak and bubinga coffee table

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Project by jrhannegan posted 07-18-2015 05:11 PM 3350 views 19 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hey guys,

Back toward the beginning of this year I was on asking about what type of finish to put on curly oak. Well, after about six months of figuring things out, learning the hard way, and a lot of help from friends I finally finished the coffee table.
The tabletop and lower shelf are curly/figured white oak inlaid with strips of bubinga. I used a router and straight edge for the inlay. After gluing up the sections, I took it to a shop with massive sanding machine to make it flat to avoid tear outs.
The finish is a coat of linseed out cut 50/50 with turpentine to give it that wet look. Then I did two coats of clear shellac. I don’t know if it is just me, but the shellac seemed to give more reflective shimmer to the wavy fibers. Then I finished with three coats of spar varnish. I tried to do a hand rubbed finish after it cured, but the wavy parts of the wood expanded just high enough that the top coat wore through at those points. And so, it got a fourth coat of well strained spar varnish, and I didn’t touch it after that.
The legs are two pieces glued together since I couldn’t find any 9/4 white oak for sale and I wanted 2” legs. The frame is angle iron and wrought iron that I forged. I attached the top to the frame with cut down hanger bolts. Of course, I cut the holes in the frame wide enough for expansion and contraction, and I left the nuts loose enough to slide.

21 comments so far

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1050 days

#1 posted 07-18-2015 05:18 PM

I love it. The curly oak came out fantastic. And the inlay beautiful.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View tnwood's profile


255 posts in 2960 days

#2 posted 07-18-2015 05:48 PM

Very nice. Normally I’m not a fan of metal framing for tables but I like the look of yours. Nice contrast on the top.

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2709 posts in 3465 days

#3 posted 07-18-2015 07:04 PM

Beautiful Table and craftsmanship!!!

-- Dennis Zongker

View Northwest29's profile


1623 posts in 2364 days

#4 posted 07-18-2015 07:30 PM

Just beautiful! Love the contrasting woods.

-- Ron, Eugene, OR, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2301 days

#5 posted 07-18-2015 08:10 PM

Total control over inlay, joinery, and… Ironwork…. Simply amazing.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View jrhannegan's profile


12 posts in 1102 days

#6 posted 07-18-2015 09:34 PM

Very nice. Normally I m not a fan of metal framing for tables but I like the look of yours. Nice contrast on the top.

- tnwood

Yeah, usually when you have the two together it ends up looking very ranch style. I think that happened here a little bit, which I’m not crazy about. Next time I do something like this, I’m going to use a semi gloss clear coat on the metal instead of satin or flat to make it look less rustic.

View sras's profile


4691 posts in 3003 days

#7 posted 07-18-2015 11:47 PM

Nice project! I like the range of features – from inlay to metal, they all work great together.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View shipwright's profile


7851 posts in 2671 days

#8 posted 07-19-2015 12:51 AM

Very nice work. There must have been some butt clenching moments routing all those recesses ….. been there.
You did a great job and the inlay really sets off the lovely figure in the oak.
Nice design, fine workmanship.


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

View lightweightladylefty's profile (online now)


3213 posts in 3586 days

#9 posted 07-19-2015 03:55 AM

The table is simply gorgeous! An enlarged version of it would make a fabulous dining table.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Andrek's profile


216 posts in 1783 days

#10 posted 07-19-2015 11:50 AM

it is ’’fantastic ’’ You made me discover something I did not know,( curly oak ) wow I learn every day thank you for sharing.

-- andrek

View majuvla's profile


11487 posts in 2741 days

#11 posted 07-19-2015 12:32 PM

This table is incredible! Realy something to show off, especialy those red strips inlays. Metal work is also the top made.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View CharlieM1958's profile


16272 posts in 4092 days

#12 posted 07-19-2015 01:36 PM

Gorgeous design and execution!

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

View drewpy's profile


773 posts in 1230 days

#13 posted 07-19-2015 02:54 PM

Beautiful table and fantastic craftsmanship!!

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

View oltexasboy1's profile


250 posts in 1578 days

#14 posted 07-19-2015 05:59 PM

Wow , the table is great. I had just finished an inlayed occasional table for my niece but yours is much better than I could ever do. The next one I try I am going to use some kind of hardwood, it seems to work better than the poplar did. The iron work is also fantastic, Great job from top to bottom. Question : Does bubinga tear out when you are working it down to the level of the table top?

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View oldnovice's profile


6479 posts in 3241 days

#15 posted 07-20-2015 02:21 AM

Being an oak lover adding the bubinga really made a gorgeous piece!
I really like the look of this build.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful project!

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

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