Aladdin's Table

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Project by KnickKnack posted 06-03-2013 06:18 PM 3443 views 25 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

(Some, but not quite all, of this story is actually true)

Imagine, if you will, the scene – it’s 2001, and my wife and I are hopelessly lost in the labyrinthine backstreets of old Damascus. This, of course, was before the war/uprising. We’re not scared, everyone in Syria has been very friendly, but we really don’t know where we are.
From the end of a long, dark, passageway a woman, an old woman, a woman so old she might be Eve’s sister, beckons us to follow her. We do. We drink coffee and then tea with her, her husband, their children, and their wives, and their children, and their husbands and and… – I jest not, there must, by the end, have been 50 people in a room the size of a New York taxi.
Several hours, and a lot of liquid, later, they give us directions as to how to get back onto “the main drag”, for want of a better term – we had a map, but I don’t think many of them could actually read. Just as we’re leaving, the old lady (you remember, Eve’s sister), pushes what looks like a beaten up and many times painted door into my hand. I politely refuse. She insists. I refuse again, politely. Again, she insists. We’ve been in the middle east for several months, so I know the protocol – I cannot refuse a third time without causing offence, so I accept.
Then she whispers in my ear – “You know Aladdin’s Magic Carpet?”, “na – ahm”, I say (there are several words for yes, this, I have learned is one of them). “Well, this is a magic piece of wood. Just remove the paint and you’ll see”. “Shokran”, says I (that’s thank you).
Well, much to my disgrace (and due to crashing Zebedee, our trusty landrover in Kenya), I forgot all about this piece of wood until the end of last year, when I ran across it in the bottom of a box.
“What the hell”, I thought, “Let’s see…”
So, I started to remove the paint – let me tell you, there was a lot of paint – layers of green, layers of red, layers of yellow, more layers of red. Eventually, I see wood. Ash, it looks like (it turned out to be Fraxinus magicus, but I didn’t know that yet). I continue – card-scrapering away. Then suddenly, the thing starts to lift of the workmate and into the air. Let me tell ya’all, I was sober and straight (since I always am in the shop, a card-scraper can do a lot of damage), but this bit of wood was levitating before my very eyes. I put a heavy piece of wood on it to keep it down, and called the wife. “Look”, I said, and removed the wooden weight – sure enough, it starts floating in the air again.
I finished striping the paint, and left it, stacked on the ceiling, and went to wondering what to do with it.
A couple of months ago I had the idea that it ought to be weighed down with a chain, so that’s what I did!


Lest you might be interested, this is what I did.

First I made a test one out of pine and Játoba…

Then, a single piece of oak…

Chopped into sections…

Which get rounded off with an appropriately sized round-over bit…

We chop it into slices, and, with the “drum-sanderlette”, smoothed, thicknessed etc…

Then we drill holes. The plugs are going to be 8mm, the through on the outside pieces is going to be 6, and for the inside, 7 (so it can roam free)...

Plug and sand…

Now, I can hear the people up there in the cheap seats looking at this and wondering why on earth I’d go to all that trouble when you can’t even see the plug.
Well, grasshopper, several days in ammonia fumes, followed by oil (or, in this case, white spirits), is going to make it look like this…

Ah, and I can hear those voices from up in the gods again – “it’ll never work, it’ll never work…”...

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The sides of the top have a very slight angle, so the first link points out slightly, using a potentially dangerous router technique I use a lot, but with the addition of a spacer to avoid 90°…

And this weird contraption to taper the ends…

I glued the top bit of chain on first…

From there is was just a gluing nightmare…

You gotta love oil for making this…

Into this…


Ash and fumed oak.
The table is 600mm x 240mm x 280xx high
The links are 70mm x 20mm x 9mm
Linseed oil finish.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

28 comments so far

View BigJoshMan's profile


11 posts in 2154 days

#1 posted 06-03-2013 07:01 PM

That is very cool. I wish I had the time on my hands to attempt something like that. Great job.

-- Josh, Central California, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Aspiring novice woodworker.

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 4265 days

#2 posted 06-03-2013 07:18 PM

Great looking table and very interesting build – thanks for sharing with us.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 3922 days

#3 posted 06-03-2013 07:52 PM

Very interesting story and unique piece!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3114 days

#4 posted 06-03-2013 08:02 PM

Now this is pretty odd… In a good way!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View nebulous's profile


53 posts in 3327 days

#5 posted 06-03-2013 08:07 PM

Great story. A craftsman AND a showman :)

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2685 days

#6 posted 06-03-2013 08:33 PM

Wow. Never seen anything quite like it.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Woodbridge's profile


3593 posts in 2618 days

#7 posted 06-03-2013 11:51 PM

very cool table!

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2024 days

#8 posted 06-03-2013 11:52 PM

Very unique table, it looks great and the grain is beautiful

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View Jojy's profile


35 posts in 2472 days

#9 posted 06-03-2013 11:55 PM

Unique piece. Love it.

-- Jojy, Dallas

View Sanding2day's profile


1014 posts in 2046 days

#10 posted 06-03-2013 11:59 PM

Very cool design… Hope I find a magic board one day… Thanks for sharing…

-- Dan

View scrollsaw's profile


13032 posts in 4054 days

#11 posted 06-04-2013 02:19 AM

Great job

-- Todd

View mbfunke's profile


76 posts in 2859 days

#12 posted 06-04-2013 04:31 AM

The story is better than the table and the table is fantastic! I was going to copy the idea, but after reading the story I may just leave this one alone. It’s perfect! :0)

-- Mike Funke

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3225 days

#13 posted 06-04-2013 07:14 AM

Nice one. Great work!

-- Dreaming patterns

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3236 days

#14 posted 06-04-2013 08:05 AM

That’s an interesting visual illusion.

The ‘mini’ drum sander trick is clever as well

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Tooch's profile


1819 posts in 2076 days

#15 posted 06-04-2013 10:15 AM

this looks fantastic! can you give the overall dimensions of the table and dimensions of the “chain”?

Also- how to do “fume” the oak with ammonia to get that color?

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

showing 1 through 15 of 28 comments

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