Oak Table

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Project by Brianthesawdustmaker posted 09-27-2015 11:33 PM 1616 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just finished a couple of tables which I’m happy to share with everyone. I only have one pictured but they are essentially carbon copies of each other.

The tables were designed to be small bedroom tables and eventually homework tables. They are red oak and match most of the other ‘mission style’ furniture that we have in our home. They utilize mortise and tenon joinery and I used through tenons for the first time. The small 1/4” pegs are walnut, which hold the through tenons in addition to glue. The drawer has half blind dovetail joints made using a Porter Cable jig/router. I admire you guys that hand cut them—I hope to get there someday myself. I’m super economical and so I cut and glued a bunch of scraps together to use for the top. After doing this, I started researching wood movement and the seasonal swell/shrink cycle wood goes through every year so I’m nervous the tops will crack out in time. I figured the worst case would be that I need to put a new top on them if that happens. I built a kitchen island (which is posted on LJ’s) and I was pretty proud of my design for the top—-until it cracked the first winter. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes are the way we learn I guess.

The project is stained and finished with brushed on oil-based polyurethane. Time consuming, but a pretty good finish which I’ve had good luck with in the past.

Overall, I was pretty pleased. Please share any thoughts/feedback. Thanks for looking!

-- Brian, Omaha, NE... So many projects, so little time!

7 comments so far

View observer100's profile


234 posts in 533 days

#1 posted 09-27-2015 11:48 PM

Great looking project Brian. Nicely done!

View DBrown52's profile


65 posts in 1153 days

#2 posted 09-28-2015 01:04 PM

Very cool. I like the drawer being cut from the same board as the stretcher.

Flat sawn red oak can really be a problem with movement across a top. I’m guessing it’s screwed down??? On my projects, I leave out the rear screws for the first year or so after moving it inside. That lets it float freely while coming to equilibrium inside your house. And when the rear screws finally do go in, I pre-drill it oversized to allow a little play. I’m sure there are better ways, but that has always worked for me.

View jdh122's profile


878 posts in 2241 days

#3 posted 09-28-2015 02:09 PM

Great table. The through mortises make a nice tough, and the grooved drawer is nice too.

Using small pieces for the top does not create more movement-related issues than using wider wood (if anything, it should reduce the chances of the top warping). The real issue, as DBrown mentioned, is the way you attached the top. If both the front and back of the table are solidly attached with no room for wood movement, the top will definitely crack. Oversize holes might provide enough slack, depending on the size of the table and the climate where you live, but to be safe I use other means (figure-8 brackets, z-clips, wooden L-shaped buttons).

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View DBrown52's profile


65 posts in 1153 days

#4 posted 09-28-2015 03:15 PM

Good points Jeremy. To clarify a little, when I say over-sized hole, I mean that I drill a 3/8” hole in the underneath attaching block and use a washer with the screw (I hope that makes sense). That usually covers the fluctuations in a house with AC.

My troubles happen in the first year after things get brought in the house because I use air-dried wood. The house is almost always drier than outside where I live. That’s why I don’t screw it at all in the first year.

View Billy E's profile

Billy E

162 posts in 1503 days

#5 posted 09-28-2015 05:48 PM

I bet you had fun gluing up that top

-- Billy, Florence SC

View Brianthesawdustmaker's profile


31 posts in 931 days

#6 posted 10-02-2015 02:21 AM

Thanks for the thoughts guys! Before discovering the wood movement issue, I had drilled Kreg pocket holes inside to screw the top on like you reference. I did drill them out with a bigger bit to allow a little room but not as much as would certainly be desired. Our house gets drier in the winter, so if anything, I expect the pressure will come from contraction and it should be as ‘wide’ as it is going to be right now. We’ll see what happens. I’m still learning!! Next project will certainly feature more appropriate brackets to hold the top on.

-- Brian, Omaha, NE... So many projects, so little time!

View DBrown52's profile


65 posts in 1153 days

#7 posted 10-02-2015 02:33 PM

Hi Brian, I’d suggest you pull out the two rear pocket screws right away and replace them with a connector that lets the top move when you have the time. If the wood is held tight in the front and back, it will definitely split somewhere in the middle when it contracts. Not trying to act like a know-it-all or anything, but it’s a really nice table and it would be a shame to see it crack.

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