Walnut trimed pecan coffee table

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Project by nattnaifeh posted 02-26-2010 11:21 PM 2712 views 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my first project like this; I did it with little help from my father. It is 3/4” pecan trimmed out with 1 3/4” walnut. This was my first turning project, the legs turned out really, really well. All in all I a, very pleased with this, it has been several months now since I have finished it and since then I have had two joints split. I haven’t sealed it yet and I am sure this is why this has happen. If anyone knows why or what I did wrong please let me know.

9 comments so far

View Zach117's profile


19 posts in 3027 days

#1 posted 02-26-2010 11:25 PM

You didn’t allow for wood movement in the top. You can’t trap the pecan inside the walnut, it will blow it out.

View deeznutz's profile


33 posts in 2987 days

#2 posted 02-26-2010 11:48 PM


That’s not necessarily true. It depends on how the Walnut has been attached…mainly on breadboard sides. I’m about to start a similar build with solid birdseye maple in the middle wrapped in walnut. The long sides will just be edge glued like any other panel and the breadboard ends will be attached with a tongue and groove like usual. As long as you only glue a few inches of the middle of the breadboards, it should allow for expansion.

The only downside is that certain times of the year, the breadboard ends may be slight proud or slight short of the long sides. Does everyone agree with this? My research showed this was likely the best way to trim around solid wood tops.

As for the table pictured, I think it looks great…well done!

View nattnaifeh's profile


17 posts in 2978 days

#3 posted 02-26-2010 11:52 PM

Thank!!!! I have been reading and that is what I have found out to do is to tongue and groove the ends. I have put together a Dining room table and was told I do not need to tongue and grove the breadboard. I glued and bisected the end and glued. It is walnut to walnut; do you guys think it will blow out?

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3042 days

#4 posted 02-27-2010 12:01 AM

Zach is right. You have to allow for movement. You may be able to salvage the situation.

You would need to remove the walnut, then cut a groove on the inside of the walnut about 3/4 of an inch deep and 3/4 of an inch wide. You can do this with a dado or a router. Be careful on the end pieces that you do not run the groove all the way to the end since it would show. The groove should be close to the top of the walnut. I would put it about 1/4 inch from the top. Cut the walnut down a little bit shorter and reattach to the pecan. However, you reattach by putting the pecan into the groove you created. Do not put the pecan all the way into the groove. Leave about 1/4 inch of expansion room on each side. DO NOT glue the pecan into place. The walnut pieces will be connected at the corners and the pecan will be “floating” inside the grooves. You really don’t need any expansion room at the ends. You can also glue the pecan to the walnut at the ends BUT ONLY IN THE CENTER and make sure that the pecan is evenly spaced in the grooves .

You might want to run a router with a roundover bit on the inside of the walnut.

I don’t know how your legs are attached but I would advise attaching them to the walnut only.

Any questions – send my a private message.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View SEE's profile


119 posts in 3134 days

#5 posted 02-27-2010 12:28 AM

Agreed. You must allow for the seasonal movement of the pecan. Breadboard ends, the groove technique as described by Rich and perhaps other ways to skin this cat, something that allows that pecan top to move with seasons is required. Otherwise, it’ll blow out.

If you ever do veneer work or work with hardwood plywoods for table tops, you don’t have to worry about the seasonal movement when attaching trim, in my experience.

-- Build for the joy of it!

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3033 days

#6 posted 02-27-2010 02:10 AM

The design is very classy with the trimmed tabletops. I have thought about this issue for a while now without coming to a really satisfying solution… it all boils down to physics and wood expands much more across the grain than it does along the grain. How do the inlay savy people deal with this fact?? Anyone know?

View jim1953's profile


2734 posts in 3809 days

#7 posted 02-27-2010 02:47 AM

Great Lookin Table

-- Jim, Kentucky

View woodworm's profile


14465 posts in 3558 days

#8 posted 02-27-2010 07:32 AM

Beautiful table top.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2928 days

#9 posted 04-18-2010 02:16 AM

That is a gorgeous table! I am new and this is my first post. I am a fan of contrasting woods in furniture. Many thanks to the LJ members for comments about wood expansion. I’ll go over the info for future reference. Most of my background is in metal. Only have to worry about rust there.
I have a big stack of pecan in the garage. All I have to do is take the stack of wood and restack it into something that looks like a table. I was interested in this post as it shows the pecan wood grain. Showed it to the Mrs. (it’s her idea for a table and mine to build it). We both agreed to test some stains on finished pieces to make a decision before the final assembly. I might experiment with a contrasting stain on a border and lighter or natural for the main piece. Again, gorgeous table and very useful advice!

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