Knotty Alder Dining Room Table

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Project by sandflea posted 2216 days ago 4818 views 4 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I started this project over a year ago. I had the top and the legs mostly done and then stuck them in a corner of my shop were they sat and gathered dust for about the last 10 months as I worked on other projects. Well, my wife told me it was time to finish the table and get it in the dining room. I also needed more room for the workbench I am building so I decided to get it done.

I’m not 100% happy with the results. I didn’t spend enough time sanding them and as a result there are a couple spots where if you look close enough you can see the swirl marks from the lower grits. I’m rarely completely happy with my work though. I think if you decide your stuff is good enough then you just limited how good you can get. I hope to never be ‘good enough’, I want to keep getting better. My wife is making keep this table for now though, but she did promise to let me try again in about a year. Next time I want to use walnut and change up a few pieces of the design.


Now before anyone says it, I know alder is a soft wood and it is very likely this table will get dinged up. I don’t care. I really like the looks, and any dings and scratches my kids add to it will only give it character and show that this is family furniture and not a museum piece.


I’m not really sure what style to call this, the design came from my head. I was watching the bonus features DVD’s for Lord of the Rings when I drew this up and had the dwarves style in mind. Whatever we call it, I like it. It’s built far heavier than it would ever need to be. I like that look. This matches a coffee table I built a while ago which I don’t think I’ve posted here yet. I’ll add that soon.


I went for a bread-boardish style top. It’s got a few coats of Watco dark walnut danish oil, lots of coats of General Finishes Arm R Seal and a final coat of some satin liquid wax that I buffed out to a light gloss. The legs are bolted to the apron from the inside so I can take it apart if I move. To do that there are T-nuts mounted inside the apron covered with walnut plugs.


The inlay is made of pieces of walnut, yellow heart, purple heart, oak, bubinga, padauk and bloodwood. The inlay actually was not part of the original design. It came about as a design feature to cover an assembly mistake. I don’t know if I was tired or what, but when I was connected the apron to the top I measured wrong and used screws that were too long and they poked up through the table top.


-- Sawdust is life

19 comments so far

View gator9t9's profile


294 posts in 2287 days

#1 posted 2216 days ago

OH yes ….I love that table ….I love those colors …nice job yes

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

View gator9t9's profile


294 posts in 2287 days

#2 posted 2216 days ago

Hey where do you get knotty Alder ??

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

View sandflea's profile


23 posts in 2366 days

#3 posted 2216 days ago

I bought the knotty alder from National Wood Products in Salt Lake City.

-- Sawdust is life

View trifern's profile


8132 posts in 2350 days

#4 posted 2216 days ago

Very nice looking table. Thank you for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 2830 days

#5 posted 2215 days ago

Nice job, if it don’t last you can always call it practice. It looks fine to me. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2897 days

#6 posted 2215 days ago

Beautiful job.

View CharlieM1958's profile


15621 posts in 2801 days

#7 posted 2215 days ago

Very nice! It’s not exactly rustic…. more like medievil maybe? Whatever you call the style, it came out really well.

Is any LJ worth his sawdust ever 100% happy with a project?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View sandflea's profile


23 posts in 2366 days

#8 posted 2215 days ago

Medieval, I like that. That’s what I’ll say it is.

-- Sawdust is life

View Dusty56's profile


11638 posts in 2271 days

#9 posted 2215 days ago

we are our own worst critics , my friend …..It looks beautiful from here…what is the third picture of ? Is it one of the legs ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View sandflea's profile


23 posts in 2366 days

#10 posted 2215 days ago

The third picture from the three across the top is a section of one of the legs that I just thought had some cool figure. The third picture going down is also some figure I liked but it is from the top of the table.

-- Sawdust is life

View stanley_clifton's profile


185 posts in 2286 days

#11 posted 2215 days ago

Crikey, that wild grain – marvellous. This is too heavy built for our little house, but what an awesome piece. I hate swirl marks too: I’ve got some on the drawer fronts of my latest piece and they will not come out. Have you tried a cabinet scraper (No 80)? No good for my piece as it’s pine, but I’ve used one on ash and the result is a very smooth, non-abraded finish.

-- Stanley generally struggling

View sandflea's profile


23 posts in 2366 days

#12 posted 2215 days ago

I don’t have a cabinet scraper yet, that’s next on my list. That or a smoothing plane. Haven’t decided which yet. I’m thinking that when I get one I will scrape the top and then re-finish it.

-- Sawdust is life

View Tony's profile


978 posts in 2613 days

#13 posted 2215 days ago

Quite a nice looking table – Rustic. If you can take it out of the house for a week or so and refinish to higher standard, then I think you will be pleasantly suprised. I personally would keep it as it is, but if you are going to “Junk” it then try to refinish it first.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View Bigbuck's profile


1347 posts in 2246 days

#14 posted 2215 days ago

Very nice, I really like notty alder, around here they call alder poor mans cherry. The table looks great!

-- Glenn, New Mexico

View blackcherry's profile


3145 posts in 2406 days

#15 posted 2215 days ago

Happy Father’s day and you know the family will allways enjoy the table Dad made hardwood or softwood the meal will always taste the same…great looking table…Blkcherry

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