|Project by Patrick Garrett||posted 08-19-2013 01:13 AM||3121 views||7 times favorited||10 comments|
I want to start out by saying that there’s some contention about what style I designed into our new dining room table. My wife calls it modern farmhouse, but I think it’s more contemporary-Asian-farmhouse, whatever that might be. If anyone has a better description, that would be very helpful!
My walnut and cherry dining table shown is the result of a year of agonizing over details, planning and jointing board edges to get a gap-free top, and more sanding than I care to remember. The walnut started as four 6/4 boards that I trimmed down to fit on my 6” jointer, and I spent several days with my wife flipping and arranging them until we hit on a layout we both loved. The finished top is 1-1/8” thick, 37-1/2” wide and 83” long. The top surface sits 30-1/4” above floor level.
I say that the project took a year, but its conception started about two years ago when my wife and I became tired of feeling seasick every time we ate at or played board games on our previous drop-leaf table, which dated back to about the 1960s. Wobbly would be an understatement. So I set out to start designing as rock-solid a table as I could, deciding that I’d add both mortise and tenon joinery and corner braces from Rockler.
It took us about a year to settle on the final design and choose what types of wood we wanted. For a while I had been considering making it from eucalyptus, but after my experience with the end tables (see my first project), I wanted a harder wood that would stand up to the abuse of check-writing and glasses getting set down on edge. I figured walnut would be tough enough to fit the bill, and if it got some dings in it that would just add to its character.
We got the inspiration for the design from a bagel shop of all places. It had a nice, weathered maple farmhouse table with chunky tapered legs and it had a feeling of permanence about it that said it would probably outlive the store it inhabited. My wife said “that’s exactly the style I want” as soon as she saw it, so I got to the drawing board and designed something close to the original. I get a little bored by single-wood furniture, so I proposed the addition of cherry legs and aprons. My wife thought some walnut trim around the bottom apron lip would tie everything together better, so that was the next thing I added.
One of the things that surprised me was how easy the taper was to add to the legs. I laid out tapers on the two inside faces of each leg and trimmed close to the layout lines on the bandsaw, then leveled everything out with a jack plane. I set my planer to take very light passes and brought the taper to exactly the same place on each leg. All told it only took about 4 hours to square the legs and add tapers.
Finishing was a pretty long process, but I didn’t try to do anything too fancy. For the top I started with Danish oil to bring out the chatoyance in the walnut, then applied 3 coats of gloss wipe-on poly and a final coat of satin. The legs just got two coats of Danish oil and a top coat of satin wipe-on poly. I applied Renaissance paste wax to the top and buffed it, which made the wood pop out and seemed to add more depth than just the poly. When you walk around the table it presents a tigers-eye shift that is quite pleasing.
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