Greene & Greene Bedside Tables

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Project by splintergroup posted 02-10-2016 06:39 PM 2250 views 25 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These tables are based on designs and plans (two pdf files) by Stu Crick, an Arts & Crafts builder and instructor who does some beautiful work. His website has some excellent how-to’s and other information. I was googling for ideas and came across his images, I had to make my own version!

The plans have some slight errors and several construction details I didn’t like so I had to improvise on the fly a few times.

The General Details:

Wood is rift/quarter sawn Red Oak. Stu’s original is White Oak, but I didn’t have enough decent WO stock on hand (I’d have preferred using WO). I also had to slightly modify several dimensions to accommodate the best-figure RO I planned on using.

Plugs are Ebony, drawer body is Maple. The finish is natural Danish oil (old can of Deftoil). To get a bit better protection for the table top, I used several coats of Homer Formby’s. This was flattened with 0000 steel wool to better match the sheen of the oil-only parts.

It took a fair amount of time to build the set, probably 100+ hours. The nice thing was I really got back in touch with my chisel skills squaring and cleaning the mortises and 56 square plug holes.

The Legs:

As explained by Stu, the Greene brothers liked to make Oak legs with QS grain on all four sides. It adds a lot of work to do this, but with a lock-mortise bit it worked out nicely for me. I’ve done this before, but only by cutting 45 degree miters and clamping all the boards together. The usual slip-sliding before the glue sets made getting tight joints difficult. The lock miter eliminates the slip-sliding by locking in the alignment, much better!

The second pdf file on the plans web page details one way to do this (I used my own method at the router table).

The scallops at the bottom of each leg were a breeze to cut with the help of a Darrell Peart designed jig. The plans have dimensions on this jig, but I realized that this jig was dimensioned for use with a straight bit and router guide bushing. I had a hinge mortise bit set up in my trim router so I modified the jig to work with this setup, perfection!

There are a ton of mortises on each leg and getting everything right was a challenge (I had made no spare legs like I usually do). The plans had a measurement error for one of the mortises that I did not catch, but fortunately the adjoining tenon hid this well enough. When I find issues like these, I’ll jot down a note on a hard copy of the plans for next time.

The Sides:

When faced with a lot of spindles, I usually groove out a slot in the cross piece then with matching wood I’ll place some spacers back into the groove to get perfect square mortises. Due to the cloud lift profile, I decided not to use this technique and instead went to the chisel. The spindle tenons have small shoulders so any mistakes could be hidden. I was at this point when I realized I really could use one of the Lee Valley square hole punches . Expensive bugger but it arrived just in time for me to cut the 56 Ebony plug holes.

One thing I liked about Stu’s design is the plans consider wood expansion. The rail tenons are glued and pinned at the bottom and pinned (no glue) at the top with slotting for movement.

The Drawer:

Simple box. The plans call for dove tails at the front and rear, I used DTs at the front and a simpler locked dado at the back. The interior boxes are soft maple, no finish except for a coat of paste wax.

The Top

Plans called for QS Oak, but the only way I could do that would be to slice strips off the edge of an 8/4 flat sawn plank and edge glue them. I think it worked out ok, but next time I’ll probably use some select wood, picked just for this project.

The bread board ends are joined to the top with a long spline glued only in the center. Long (3”) screws under each plug keep it tight, but still allow for expansion. The trademark Greene & Greene Ebony splines and raised breadboard ends set the top apart, I like the look but a lot of hand work was involved. The Ebony splines went fairly easily, I had anticipated using the William Ng style jig and bit but I ended up using a large round over bit and simple template. Maybe I’ll build the jig and buy the bit for when I do this again.

There appears to be an error in the plan dimensions for the Ebony spline, the distance to the offset seems wrong (I noticed this after cutting and shaping all eight splines).

Small Details:

The plugs were painful!
I watched the William Ng video on making these and was all set to begin.
William chucks the Ebony stick into a cordless drill and uses the drill to “pillow” the tops of the stick by moving between various grits of sand paper. I found that my 3/8” plug sticks were too big for my drills 1/2” chuck and I ended up using a modified Darrell Peart jig (designed for a disc sander). Since I don’t have a very good disc sander, I made my own jig to work with my drum sander. This does the initial rough shaping, the rest is done by hand using a “pendulum” swinging motion (video on the Wood Whisperers site). Do each end of the stick, saw off the tips to create a pair of plugs, rinse, repeat. Talk about wrist fatigue!

The plans call for the lower shelf to be exactly as wide as the space between the legs. If built this way, any further expansion of the shelf would rip out the leg tenons and force the legs apart. I made my shelf 3/8” shy of full width to allow for possible expansion. Another puzzlement is the plan calls for the spline between the breadboard ends and “core” to be glued to the core. This is a full cross grain glue up which would seem to defeat the purpose of the sliding joint. I just glued the spline to the breadboard ends instead (long grain to long grain) and continued on.

Fun project! I think next time I’ll make a coffee table along the same design.

Thanks for reading!

20 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


1824 posts in 1411 days

#1 posted 02-10-2016 06:58 PM

Beautiful bedside tables….very well done.

View htl's profile


2035 posts in 582 days

#2 posted 02-10-2016 08:59 PM

Love the style and you did a great job on it.

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View BurlyBob's profile


3484 posts in 1688 days

#3 posted 02-10-2016 10:50 PM

That is absolutely fantastic and what attention to detail.

View pintodeluxe's profile (online now)


4827 posts in 2236 days

#4 posted 02-10-2016 11:10 PM

It is interesting to me that this piece is full of authentic Greene and Greene details, yet in natural oak it takes on an air of Frank Lloyd Wright. Either way it is quite an accomplishment.
Well done all around.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View AandCstyle's profile


2540 posts in 1679 days

#5 posted 02-10-2016 11:35 PM

Hey, Splinter, those are outstanding tables. Oftentimes, I don’t care for G&G because I think it is over done, but your tables hit the sweet spot for me. Also, your write up is quite enjoyable and educational. Thank you for posting.

-- Art

View hoss12992's profile


3813 posts in 1315 days

#6 posted 02-10-2016 11:55 PM

That is really cool. Great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View DonSol's profile


186 posts in 664 days

#7 posted 02-11-2016 12:03 AM

Beautiful detail wok.

-- Don Solomon, New Castle, IN; Quality is not an act, it is a habit. Aristotle

View oldrivers's profile


711 posts in 989 days

#8 posted 02-11-2016 01:03 AM

Very nice design, detail and workmanship

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View Scott's profile


150 posts in 2394 days

#9 posted 02-11-2016 01:04 AM

Great job! Adding to my favorites!

View Tooch's profile


1302 posts in 1298 days

#10 posted 02-11-2016 03:01 AM

Wow! What and exceptional build, and an incredible write up, too. Thanks for sharing all those links and the pdfs too.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View Ken90712's profile


16864 posts in 2611 days

#11 posted 02-11-2016 09:23 AM

LOVE G & G Great job.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Matt's profile


77 posts in 373 days

#12 posted 02-11-2016 02:27 PM

The choice of hardware on the drawers is outstanding. The square shapes match the plugs perfectly. Very nice execution.

-- My "projects" always look better with beer goggles.

View splintergroup's profile


734 posts in 645 days

#13 posted 02-11-2016 02:51 PM

Thank you for all the kind words!

Art: I agree with your comment on how some styles can get overdone, besides it is a lot of work and time to push a project across that line! The ‘details’ on this project (mainly the Ebony bits) took far longer than I anticipated. I can’t imagine going through the ‘pains’ of building one of those highboys or other Victorian styles…..

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2999 days

#14 posted 02-11-2016 03:09 PM

Outstanding work,love the G&G

-- Custom furniture

View helluvawreck's profile


22697 posts in 2289 days

#15 posted 02-11-2016 03:18 PM

You have really done a wonderful 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

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