Walnut end table

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Project by mrbentontoyou posted 08-02-2008 11:42 AM 3022 views 17 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The inspiration for this thing came from some ancient catalogue I was sifting through while waiting for clothes to dry at the local laundro-plex. It was probably west elm or crate and barrel or something, no cover, well worn. The one in the catalogue was all square and blocky; all the shelves and the back were the same width, and all pieces looked to be 1.5” deep mdf boxes with kd hardware. The vertical supports between the shelves were square, so from a side view it would look like a staircase. The tiered shape seemed cool and I had a boatload of walnut lumber burning a hole in my garage so a couple weeks, a few design changes, a broken foot (table’s, not mine), and a can of watco later, and here she is.

The top and bottom shelf are affixed to the back with irregularly spaced finger/box joints, that is, the spacing is the same for each shelf, but the shelf fingers are smaller than the back fingers. The back is rabbeted slightly to accept them. The middle shelf gets wedged through tenons, same size and layout as the fingers, and sits in a 1/16” dado. From the back it all makes sense- the fingers and tenons all match. The feet are also through tenoned; the wedges in the front feet run from corner to corner of the tenon, the wedges in the back run with the grain. Don’t ask me why. They just do. The vertical spacers are housed in 1/16” grooves in the shelves and back. I rounded and beveled all the edges by hand with planes and sanding. Lots of sanding. The only sharp edges are on the feet.

For all the pieces, I sorted through the wood pile and picked boards with as much sapwood/heartwood transition as possible; I really like the color differentiation in walnut. Between the brown and yellow there are pink and purple and blue shades. Each shelf features live edges, some with bark. For the back, I glued up two pieces sapwood to sapwood to create a yellow racing stripe down the middle. It’s got 4 coats of danish oil, with two more to come, and a coat or two of poly to protect from whatever. Can’t decide between glossy or satin poly, opinions are welcome.

So that’s the story guys, hope you like.

25 comments so far

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 3951 days

#1 posted 08-02-2008 11:45 AM

Great job.

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3977 days

#2 posted 08-02-2008 12:45 PM

Very interesting project. I like it.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 4136 days

#3 posted 08-02-2008 12:51 PM

I love this piece; the inclusion of sapwood, natural edges and through joints; it all reminds me of my favourite woodartist, the late Tim Stead

For what it’s worth, I’d go for satin every time time with this style.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 3862 days

#4 posted 08-02-2008 02:00 PM

I really like this one. It is visually interesting. I have been contemplating what it would look like to affix legs the way you have there. Great little table, thanks for sharing.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 4002 days

#5 posted 08-02-2008 02:34 PM

Nice looking piece of furniture. I like your wood selection. Thank you for sharing.

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4453 days

#6 posted 08-02-2008 03:28 PM

This is a really cool piece!

As I began reading the story, I thought something was odd…. woodworking and having to use the laundro-plex don’t usually go together. If you have a place for tools, you must have a place for a washer and dryer, right? Then I looked at the background in the photos, and I realized it looked like an urban area. My first thought was NYC, so I checked your profile and I was right on the money!

Woodworking in the city must be a challenge, huh? I’m a suburban southern boy myself, but my daughter goes to college at CCNY in Manhattan, so I’m a pretty frequent visitor.

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

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4561 days

#7 posted 08-02-2008 03:46 PM

I really like the heartwood/sapwood and live edge features of this piece. it looks beautiful.
it must be a great conversation piece.

View woodnot's profile


50 posts in 3849 days

#8 posted 08-02-2008 04:22 PM

Great looking piece- nice job setting up the tiers~! ! ! I am a walnut lover also!!!

-- NW wood worker

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14179 posts in 4218 days

#9 posted 08-02-2008 04:42 PM

Beautiful work … a posting to remember … love that walnut and sapwood. distinctive

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 4047 days

#10 posted 08-02-2008 05:29 PM

Good job and nice wood = beautiful table

-- Jiri

View Texasgaloot's profile


465 posts in 3935 days

#11 posted 08-02-2008 06:25 PM

This is not your father’s shaker table! I love the originality of the design, which is followed through in the use of materials! I can’t wait to see the matching coffee table…

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4312 days

#12 posted 08-02-2008 07:08 PM

wow…very nice…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View KYSean's profile


119 posts in 3831 days

#13 posted 08-02-2008 09:22 PM

Wow ! that really caught my eye when I first loaded the page. Nice job.


View bfd's profile


502 posts in 4042 days

#14 posted 08-02-2008 11:33 PM

THIS IS GORGEOUS! The play between the sapwood and the heartwood is visually striking. I know the piece that gave you the inspiration and it would be an under statement to say you improved upon it. You knocked it out of the park. To me this sculptural piece deserves the modern look of a satin finish. A glossy finish just wouldn’t look right for this piece. Again, beautiful piece.

View mrbentontoyou's profile


25 posts in 3820 days

#15 posted 08-03-2008 04:54 AM

Satin it is. I’ll post pics when it’s done….
Thanks for all the kind words.

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