Curved Front Walnut Sofa Table

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Project by CL810 posted 10-01-2013 12:05 AM 2945 views 9 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this sofa or hall table this summer and learned several new techniques. I attended a class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking taught by Chris Gochnour for this build.

The curved front apron was done by re-sawing the walnut and then laminating the strips on a curved form and drying in a vacuum. The middle was then cut out to make the drawer front. The top has a fan-fold veneered insert bordered with smoked maple strips. Picture 3 illustrates the veneer best. Picture 4 shows the curved front drawer.

Picture 5 shows the table before finishing. The short version story of the finish is 2 applications of Watco’s Dark Walnut Danish Oil which I allowed to cure for 1 week. I then applied 5 applications of Watco’s Natural Danish Oil. I allowed a minimum of 24 hours between applications. After curing for 1 more week I then applied two coats of Renaissance wax.

The long version of the finish: If you’re still with me I hope you like to problem solve. I originally wanted to use shellac for the finish but had a problem that I hope someone can provide some insight into the cause or a fix.

Picture 6 shows the problem that appeared after I applied the first coat of shellac. It’s kind of hard to see but just inside of the smoked maple border is a baseball sized area that would not “take” the shellac. I would brush on shellac in this area and it would just disappear. I eventually decided that “something” got on the wood that is causing the shellac to disappear.

I then sanded the top down, reapplied the dark walnut Danish oil, and tried again. Again failure. Now I’m not sure at this point if it was stubbornness or stupidity but I tried it again being very careful with each step. Again failure, again in the same spot.

I consulted with a furniture restorer who suggested sanding down again, reapply the dark walnut oil, but then use the Watco’s natural Danish oil to build up a coating until it developed a sheen and see if it would then take the shellac.

Well after applying the natural Danish oil I liked the look so much that I decided to let it cure and just wax it. And to be honest, I’m sure part of why it looked so good was just wanting to be done with it. Anyway, any thoughts on the finish issue are welcomed.

Thanks for looking.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

37 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile


5779 posts in 1636 days

#1 posted 10-01-2013 12:48 AM

Lots of things to like on this project Mr Clayton. The design is simple, and classy. I have no insight on the finish spots other than a guess that something was blocking the finish like glue? But it sure turned out great in the end.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5489 posts in 1330 days

#2 posted 10-01-2013 12:57 AM

Great looking table, very nicely crafted! No finishing suggestion other than to observe: looks great, so I’d leave it as good.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Oldtool's profile


2148 posts in 1228 days

#3 posted 10-01-2013 12:58 AM

Beautiful table, great job on this build. I too use shellac, but never experienced what you did, so no help here from me.
The table looks great though, and the oil and wax finish is something I’ve been wanting to try myself. Partly due to an easier and faster alternative to many coats of shellac, and because I’m of the impression it’ll look more inviting to the touch, a softer finish with less shine. Do you find this to be true?
Anyway, great table, well crafted, and I really like that fan-folded veneered insert. Fantastic.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View sscartozzi's profile


50 posts in 797 days

#4 posted 10-01-2013 01:03 AM

Nice piece. I think the veneered top came out great. Sorry I don’t have a clue on your finish issue. However I would agree with the above idea. Some how a glue issue.

-- Steve, Malvern, PA

View theoldfart's profile (online now)


6118 posts in 1488 days

#5 posted 10-01-2013 01:31 AM

Clayton, really nice piece. The veneer was assembled perfectly, the rays complement the shape without distraction. A quality job. Nice going.

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

View Bearpaw's profile


225 posts in 2758 days

#6 posted 10-01-2013 01:34 AM

Great workmanship. This design looks a great deal like the Thomas Moser’s Bow-Front Table design featured in the July/August 1988 American Woodworker. We have need of a table like this in the front entrance of my church and I think that I may build it. I went through my library last night and found the article. It is scary that you have this post up. Maybe someone approves of the project.

-- "When we build, let us think we build forever." John Ruskin

View a1Jim's profile


113725 posts in 2614 days

#7 posted 10-01-2013 01:57 AM

Cool table,nice work.

-- Custom furniture

View BigRedKnothead's profile


7027 posts in 1019 days

#8 posted 10-01-2013 02:04 AM

That is a fine piece of furniture.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Ottacat's profile


381 posts in 889 days

#9 posted 10-01-2013 02:15 AM

Very nice, I love the overall look and the top is excellent. I built mine using plans in FWW from Charles Durfee and the tables appear to be very similar. Here is a link to mine –

View WayneC's profile


12635 posts in 3135 days

#10 posted 10-01-2013 02:34 AM

Lovely Clayton.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View lysdexic's profile (online now)


4968 posts in 1660 days

#11 posted 10-01-2013 02:56 AM

Nothing but class. Favorited.

-- I love Jeeps

View dnick's profile


975 posts in 1420 days

#12 posted 10-01-2013 03:22 AM

A very nice piece. Well done.

-- dnick, North Hollywood, Ca.

View doubleDD's profile


3834 posts in 1080 days

#13 posted 10-01-2013 03:58 AM

Beautiful looking table. Great job on the top.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View exelectrician's profile


2285 posts in 1465 days

#14 posted 10-01-2013 04:48 AM

Chris Gochnour is a favorite of mine I think his ideas and designs are a cut above the rest. Your table is so well done it looks like you have made dozens of these before, all the details are perfect.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View yuridichesky's profile


441 posts in 1001 days

#15 posted 10-01-2013 09:09 AM

I’d like to get to this level of craftsmanship some day.

-- Yuri (10x4 -- yeah, that's my tiny shop!)

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