Lauren's Dining Table from salvaged SC Cotton Mill

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Project by Scott Oldre posted 09-20-2015 07:48 PM 2508 views 25 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I started thinking about and designing this table in Dec 2013, after I’d taken the table my son had grown up with, up to Michigan for his new house. This left my step daughter Lauren without a table. So being the guy I am, I said I’d build her one. I’d made up my mind I wanted something special, so I started looking for some cheap walnut in the spring of 2014. Picked some up from North of Charlotte which they guy said had been kiln dried. Got it home, put it on the saw and immediately got a shower…definitely WET. Too far to drive it back, so hung on to it and it’ll get used eventually. At $3 a B/F I should have known better. Then in Late 2014, I found another seller of some slabs in Ashville NC. At least I knew these were fairly fresh, but still couldn’t use them to build the table, so they sit in the attic drying naturally for some project in the future. Spring of 2015, I read an ad in CR about some reclaimed flooring and roof materials from a Northern SC cotton mill. Went to look at it..rough rough, but hey, why not, it’s got history. So finally the table got started.

What you see here is a summer’s worth of planing all the old stuff (paint, creasote, spillage of everything) off and got some dimensional wood. it was 2.25” thick when I started and I took about 3/4 ” off during the process. Some stuff had amazing grain, some didn’t. Took my time and started laying the useable pieces (yeah, lots of splits, dry rot, etc in the bunches I bought. par for the course for this table build). Laid them out into the top first, then whatever was left would be the bottom and a bench to come. I’m scared I’m not going to have enough for the bench, since the last 4 pieces I have are either split or have more twist than Elvis. But there’s the challenge, isn’t it.

No metal pieces in the table, and the only thing left to do is to turn some locating pins to mate the top and bottom the same way every time. The top weighs over 100# and I can’t move it myself. It’s 6.5’ long by 3.25’ wide. Finished in natural BLO/MS/POLY blend on top, and the same on the bottom with a 1/3 bottle of transtint mixed in. Only sanded the edges to prevent slivers, and left the knots and such alone.

Lauren has only seen the top in person, but has seen it on Facebook and says she is excited beyond belief. My son, now thinks he’d like to trade his table for hers…..sorry son..snowballs chance in a hot place before that happens.

Hope you like it. I particularly liked the idea of the forked wedges against the dowel. Hadn’t seen it but in one book and decided to try it.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

28 comments so far

View canadianchips's profile


2310 posts in 2419 days

#1 posted 09-20-2015 08:28 PM

Nice leg design.
The wedge is also interesting. It looks like it should keep everything tight. AND can be readjusted if necessary.
It is so rewarding when a PLAN finally comes together. GOOD JOB !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View dshute's profile


192 posts in 2108 days

#2 posted 09-20-2015 11:44 PM

Nice build and materials.

-- dshute, Warsaw, New York

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2112 days

#3 posted 09-20-2015 11:49 PM

I love wood with a history and yours certainly qualifies! The design and joinery are very cool. I know about cleaning this kind of wood up but yours was WELL worth the effort. Great job!!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View rtbrmb's profile


458 posts in 1810 days

#4 posted 09-21-2015 12:01 AM

Great story & the wood top is beautiful. I am also very impressed with the base design. I looked at your whole gallery of projects-very impressive.

Thanks for sharing.

Bill in MI

View SteveGaskins's profile


621 posts in 2009 days

#5 posted 09-21-2015 12:19 AM

Scott, very impressive table build. Love the breadboard ends. Nice to know you are from SC, too.

-- Steve, South Carolina,

View Mark's profile


814 posts in 1396 days

#6 posted 09-21-2015 12:20 AM

Outstanding job Scott. Talk about beauty and the beast (rough lumber / finished table). Well done.

-- Mark

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1720 posts in 1391 days

#7 posted 09-21-2015 01:55 AM

Wow! You knocked it out of the park with that one. Love the base that you made

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View John's profile


417 posts in 692 days

#8 posted 09-21-2015 03:30 AM

If I ever get around to making a table I’m going to remember this one, beautiful!

-- John, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada.

View TTF's profile


144 posts in 2599 days

#9 posted 09-21-2015 03:45 AM

Great job. I love the grain.

-- Troy | | The more I see nature, the more I am amazed at the Creator. - Louis Pasteur

View ColonelTravis's profile


1159 posts in 1316 days

#10 posted 09-21-2015 06:21 AM

Awesome job.

I see you drawbored the breadboards, which I’ve noticed often in large table tops. Is that a necessity or a precaution with larger stuff?

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

1696 posts in 485 days

#11 posted 09-21-2015 06:36 AM

I read the story with interest, Scott, and nowhere did you mention what the wood is, aside from its provenance. Is it Pine? Whatever it is, it’s an outstanding piece of work. Large pieces/lotta lumber, especially salvaged lumber, really push my buttons. There are no more old barns or cotton mills in my area, so big hauls are somewhat out of my reach. I do what I can with pieces of furniture people leave out on the street when they’re done with them. That, and reacting like Pavlov’s dog any time I hear chainsaws.

-- Mark

View whope's profile


137 posts in 1867 days

#12 posted 09-21-2015 10:53 AM

A beautiful piece.

I’m curious to how you attached the top to the table.

-- Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, cut it with an axe.

View Gary's profile


25 posts in 1628 days

#13 posted 09-21-2015 12:04 PM


-- Gary

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

742 posts in 2853 days

#14 posted 09-21-2015 12:11 PM

Colonel Travis, I used Titebond III only in the very center of the breadboard ends, the rest is only held together by the 1/2 Walnut pins on either side. The end pins have the hole through the tenon rasped out so the top can move naturally with the seasonal changes without splitting. The tenon going into the breadboard end is about 5/8” thick. Since this is the first time I’ve made a table this size, I may have done it all wrong and down the road it’ll crack. I’m hoping not, but if it does, it’s “rustic” right :)

Mark, the wood is an soft pine. I’m not an expert on which type of pine, and the salvage person, didn’t know either, but there was a mixture of rift sawn and quarter sawn pieces, and all were tongue and grooved. The edges of the boards were so ripped up, I couldnt use the original tongue and groove, so sliced them off. Used an 8 inch by 8 foot piece of OSB, screwed each board to the OSB, and ran the OSB down the fence of the table saw to joint one of the edges.

Whope, the top is heavy, and with the final addition of some hand turned “locating” pins on each end, the top will not actually be secured, but just resting on the base. The pins will be glued into the table top, then allowed to drop into matching. but elongated (for movement) holes on the base. I have been throwing around the idea of making the pins long enough and large enough to have at least one on each end be pinned themselves, but not sure if it’s necessary.

The top is all splined using 1” x 3/8” pieces of oak for strength. It was easier to take the router with a winged cutter and run it down the jointed sides, than to try and use biscuits for positioning while gluing.

For all those interested, the source for the reclaimed material is located in Chapin SC, and if you PM me, I can get you his phone number. He has varying quality, and since I spent way too much on wet walnut, I had to get some of the nastiest pieces but got a great price. $25 for each 16’ piece, but remember, a lot of it had twist and cup and warp.

Thank you all for the kind words and the enthusiasm over this table. It truly is appreciated and it tells me I’m in the right hobby and I’ll keep doing it as long as I can. Thanks again!


-- Scott, Irmo SC

View eztrigger's profile


145 posts in 1349 days

#15 posted 09-21-2015 04:24 PM

the grain coloring on the top is just great. reminds me of the sunburst colors you see so often on guitars. excellent work.

-- "Some get spiritual 'cause they see the light, and some 'cause they feel the heat." --Ray Wiley Hubbard

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