Nakashima Style Walnut Dining Table

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Project by Vincent Nocito posted 12-31-2015 02:46 AM 1806 views 10 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Greetings all and Happy New Year. Hard to believe that it has been more than a year since I posted a project. As many of you can relate, life takes time. Work, travel for work, travel for vacation, relocating the kids and on and on. You get the picture. Projects were started and then sat idle for weeks or months. In any event, we have been without a dining room set for a few years. We debated on whether to stay in the A&C vein or perhaps Greene and Greene. A trip to the Metropolitan Museum in NYC and the Michener Museum in Doylestown PA helped end the debate. We decided to go for something in the style of George Nakashima. I am building a dining table, sideboard and a display shelf. All will be solid walnut and feature natural edges. The table is based on Nakashima’s Frenchman’s Cove I Table.

I traveled to Talarico Hardwoods in Mohnton PA to look over the selection of flitches. I purchased a pair of bookmatched 6/4 walnut (10 foot) for the top and another 10/4 for the base (also 10 foot).

Once they arrived, the usual debarking and cutting to rough size followed. The 10/4 flitch was broken down to yield the parts for the table base.

The tops were leveled and smoothed using handplanes. That operation took almost a week to complete. The base features bridle joint construction for the legs and stretchers.

The top needed some butterfly splines for cracks. So the areas in need of repair were routed and chiseled out and the splines glued into place and then planed flush with the top.

Cracks and voids were filled with 5 minute epoxy tinted with Trans Tint Mission Brown dye. Once the epoxy had set, it was planes and sanded flush.

The two halves of the table top were joined with a total of 8 butterfly splices (4 on top and four below).

The top is 84” long x 44.5” wide and 1 3/8” thick.

The base was sanded to 600 grit. The top was sanded to 1200 grit. The finish is Odie’s oil, Odie’s Wood Butter and a final top coat of Odie’s Wax.

Overall, it was a fun project and a lot of firsts for me. I hope to complete the sideboard and display shelf in the near future. Thanks for looking.

20 comments so far

View IAMike's profile


23 posts in 904 days

#1 posted 12-31-2015 04:51 AM

That looks fantastic! I also have a lack of dining set, I have a mess of ash drying now that I plan to use. I only hope it comes out looking half as good as yours. Very nicely done.

-- I'm thinking about starting a blog for my projects. It'll have to be called Woodworking By Dummies

View oldnovice's profile


5638 posts in 2785 days

#2 posted 12-31-2015 06:57 AM

An extremely beautiful dining table, very well done!

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

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1457 posts in 3399 days

#3 posted 12-31-2015 11:43 AM

Very nice!

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View BillG's profile


80 posts in 2967 days

#4 posted 12-31-2015 12:55 PM

Hi Vincent,

Awesome table, nice job matching grain. Working with flitches adds a nice touch since everything is out of the same tree. Is the gap in the middle Nakashima trademark? Nice job on planing everything flat, that’s not easy work. The keys were also were well done. You really stepped it up on this project.

I’ve done a number of live edge pieces, I really like look.

I’m looking forward to seeing your efforts on the side board and display shelf.


-- Bill G - West Springfield, MA

View Jero's profile


76 posts in 2403 days

#5 posted 12-31-2015 01:19 PM

That looks really nice! Great use of slabs and the ties look amazing. I’m coincidently in the process of making a live-edge dining table as well, for myself and will post it when I’m completed, hopefully in the next couple weeks.

-- Jeremy - Marshfield, WI

View MrLaughingbrook's profile


83 posts in 1384 days

#6 posted 12-31-2015 02:33 PM

Fantastic! I’ll save a picture to guide me when I’m ready to build dining room table.

-- MrLaughingbrook

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 2781 days

#7 posted 12-31-2015 02:43 PM

Thanks for the comments.

BillG: I have seen a number of Nakashima tables and they can be either one slab, joined boards or two flitches as I have done. The gaps vary from 1/4” to about 3/4”. It really depends on the overall shape of the flitch. Another interesting feature is that on many of the original pieces of Nakashima furniture, the butterfly splines are screwed in from below.

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2283 days

#8 posted 12-31-2015 02:48 PM

You did a beautiful job on this.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View david38's profile


2364 posts in 1760 days

#9 posted 12-31-2015 03:02 PM


View builtinbkyn's profile


650 posts in 357 days

#10 posted 12-31-2015 03:10 PM

Beautiful. Love George Nakashima’s work. Simple, graceful lines. Everything is in perfect balance and scale.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn :)

View JimYoung's profile


218 posts in 1004 days

#11 posted 12-31-2015 04:25 PM

Simply Beautiful.

-- -Jim, "Society is well governed when its people obey the magistrates, and the magistrates obey the law." -- Solon

View pottz's profile


750 posts in 401 days

#12 posted 12-31-2015 04:45 PM

im a big fan of the nakashima style of how the wood is the star and every board Has its purpose you did a great job on this one well worth the wait.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Gregg M.'s profile

Gregg M.

160 posts in 1099 days

#13 posted 12-31-2015 06:25 PM

Great looking table. The crotch figure looks excellent. Thanks for sharing your pictures.

-- Marvel Woodworking, West Chester, PA -

View bobasaurus's profile


2587 posts in 2601 days

#14 posted 12-31-2015 07:55 PM

Planing the top by hand is impressive. I tried that with my slab table, got 1/4 the way through, and gave up in favor of my friend’s drum sander.

-- Allen, Colorado

View EarlS's profile


280 posts in 1765 days

#15 posted 12-31-2015 11:34 PM

Walnut is one of my favorite wood species. I’m especially intrigued by the open space between the two top pieces. I haven’t seen butterfly splines used to hold two pieces of wood apart like you have done. It is a very creative way of using the negative space to create a shadow line and it highlights the gorgeous patterns in the walnut. I will keep that in mind for future projects. Nicely done!!!

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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