Mediocre Solid Oak end tables

  • Advertise with us
Project by lumberjoe posted 05-29-2012 06:31 PM 3378 views 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Please excuse my crappy pictures. The lighting is awful and I spend money on tools instead of cameras

Here are a pair of end tables I made for our bedroom. My wife insisted again, they be without drawers. I get the feeling maybe one of her many siblings locked her in a drawer at a young age :) I actually don’t like the look of oak at all, but these didn’t come out too bad. I played around with stain colors to soften it up. First, I applied Minwax weathered oak. I let that dry for a few hours. That really calmed down the grain. Then I applied the Minwax Early American my wife insisted I use. It actually doesn’t look a whole lot different than natural red oak. Finish is general finishes wipe-on poly knocked down with some steel wool. my wife then asked if I was going to apply the poly I told her I had. She wanted the glossy plastic look, so another few coats went on. I’m glad she did not want me to fill the pores, I was dreading that.

To date, these are probably my finest work, which isn’t saying much.

1 – Oak is an absolute pleasure to work with. Much easier on my tools than hard maple, yet holds a much cleaner edge than soft maple. Just about every piece I cut looked crisp and sharp right off the saw. I wish I liked the way it looked because I would use it a lot more. I anticipated planing to be tricky, but I did some reading. The grain on the 9 footers I had changed direction. I rough cut to length before I planed so I could avoid tear out. It worked, I got no tare out at all, and that was my first time ever using a planer.

2 – This is made entirely of 4/4 oak. The legs are laminated. If you look at the last picture I tried to bookmatch them. It came out pretty well.

3 – Cutting tapers is A LOT easier than I thought. The legs are double tapered (outsides). I made a tapering jig for my tablesaw. After a few trial and error pieces learning where to set the fence to begin the taper where I wanted it, it was a piece of cake.

4. I really hate high sheen poly. It looks glossy and fake.

5 – Prefinishing is the way to go!. I prefinished every piece before assembly. I was careful to tape off the tongues on the aprons and the grooves on the legs. No drips, no runs, and despite the crappy flash pictures, the color is very even.

6 – Making 2 of something is HARD! I’m very glad I didn’t make them one at a time. I cut all 8 legs, all 8 aprons and both tops at the same time.

7 – Next time I will go somewhere and get 8/4 for the legs. The laminating process took forever. I would have never been able to do it without a planer. I am also not sure how long they will hold up.

Again, this is probably my best project to date, which isn’t saying much because what took me a week would take a lot of you 3 or 4 hours, but it’s a confidence booster for me. Also of note, I am getting very good at planning cuts. I had almost no waste. I was anticipating a lot of waste, so I have a full, untouched 9” wide by 9 foot long piece left over. I really need to get better at matching grain. I do a terrible job with it.

Also, oak is SHARP! I cut the crap out of my finger while I was pushing a piece up against the saws fence to rip it. It’s not very visible but there is an 1/8th inch round-over on the top and bottom edges of the table tops.


19 comments so far

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2445 days

#1 posted 05-29-2012 06:52 PM

Also excuse the end grain. The table is sideways in this picture, I don’t like the end grain to show. I should have edge banded it, but I got a little overzealous with the round-over bit before I was able to.

Another furniture etiquette question for the pro’s. On a square table top, should the grain run front to back, or side to side? I assume side to side to hide end grain, even if edge banded.


View chrisstef's profile


17759 posts in 3203 days

#2 posted 05-29-2012 06:56 PM

Joe, let me be the first to say that if it dont wobble you did a great job. Thats a good amount of mortise and tenons, no easy task making those look good and yours look nice n tight. Well done i say!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2445 days

#3 posted 05-29-2012 07:10 PM

No wobble. I was extremely meticulous in cutting everything exactly the same size, in exactly the same location, and exactly square. I probably have enough pine/plywood mock-ups to make 3 more tables. I have also never made anything with 4 traditional legs, or cut tapers. It was a good learning experience and I ended with a couple new tools and some nifty new jigs I made. The mortise and tenons were really time consuming. I really just should have used pocket screws, but that would be cheating.


View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2445 days

#4 posted 05-29-2012 07:48 PM

Also of note, I would like to know the preferred method of attaching table tops to tables like this. I installed corner blocks in all 4 corners and attached the top that way. I drilled the holes a tad oversize. Do I need to worry about warping? should I have a stretcher in the middle?


View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3782 days

#5 posted 05-29-2012 08:29 PM

As far as I can see yout photos are thework too. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Pyamed's profile


30 posts in 2889 days

#6 posted 05-29-2012 08:31 PM

When attaching table tops to an apron I use those figure eight fastners.

-- Kevin - Rochester, NY

View rance's profile


4266 posts in 3357 days

#7 posted 05-29-2012 08:36 PM

Nice tables. Next time consider putting a drawer in anyway. Just turn the one on her side to face the wall. Seriously.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2445 days

#8 posted 05-29-2012 08:44 PM

Kevin, I’ve never heard of those, I guess I will need to look them up. Rance, she’d find it. In one of the mock-ups, I actually made the front apron a drawer with no pull. I even dovetailed the whole drawer assembly and made wooden side slides. It worked well, but I couldn’t get the front to be seamless, and there was some structural rigidity issues because the aprons are so short compared to the length of the legs


View GenerationWW's profile


521 posts in 2446 days

#9 posted 05-29-2012 10:17 PM

Good job Joe! The only time it matters how long a projects takes to finish is if you have a deadline for a client. Otherwise, woodworking is all about fun and learning new things to make the next project even better. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing your next project!

-- list your handcrafted treasures @ for free!

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2445 days

#10 posted 05-29-2012 11:39 PM

Thanks. This is the first project I have done that I am somewhat satisfied with


View rance's profile


4266 posts in 3357 days

#11 posted 05-30-2012 02:25 AM

You are funny Joe. I wasn’t saying she wouldn’t, I was just suggesting you could still have the drawer, but she could turn hers toward the wall to get the look she was after. Keep up the good work dude.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3265 posts in 3909 days

#12 posted 05-30-2012 04:46 AM


Your work looks great! I made my mother a similar table but with different proportions. I “cheated” though and used pocket holes! She didn’t want a drawer either so I gave her a little hidden storage with the top flipping open (which would be pretty useless if you want to put a lamp on it). Thanks for sharing your tables. Your wife should be very pleased with them.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Mike's profile


60 posts in 2406 days

#13 posted 05-30-2012 10:55 AM

Hey, they look great!

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2445 days

#14 posted 05-30-2012 12:12 PM

My wife feels the same way I do about Oak (not her favorite) but she loves the way these came out. The flip up top storage idea is awesome! But yes these do have lamps on them. I am really looking forward to working with oak again soon.


View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8546 posts in 2525 days

#15 posted 05-30-2012 01:21 PM

No need to be so humble Joe… I think they came out great!

Not everyone is a professional furniture maker….. I know I sure aint!

I also think you did a good job matching the grain.

Funny how some want to tone down the grain…. and others want it to pop out to the maximum.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

showing 1 through 15 of 19 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics