Knotty Alder Sideboard with Copper Patina Top

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Project by BigRedKnothead posted 11-08-2013 06:00 PM 5146 views 42 times favorited 42 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s a piece I made for some friends. It’s made of knotty alder, with a copper panel for the top. I posted a lot of the build on our Furniture Makers Forum.

Some notes about the build:
- All mortise and tenon frame and panel joinery. The bottom, back and dividers are cabinet grade alder plywood. All the rest is solid wood. I tried to bookmatch all the panels. It made some of the knots look like owl’s eyes.
- This is my first time working with alder. I enjoyed the change of pace. It’s softer than the oak and walnut I’m used to, but the wood has great character.
- The knots give it a rustic feel. I left some hand plane tracks and even a little chatter around the knots. I really like this effect.
- The finish is Old master dark mahogany wiping stain. satin lacquer, and Howard’s walnut paste wax.

It was tough to get some good pics of this peice. Now I see that a door was ajar in some of them. The copper is very colorful as you can see.

Here’s a few shots of the build.

I know some people are going to ask about the copper process, so I’ll give ya what I can.
First I used contact cement to adhere a roll of copper flashing to plywood.

Then I used some stuff called “liver of sulfer” to get some funky colors. Yes, this stuff smells like a million monkey farts. Use it outside and let your inner Picasso out. Rinse with baking soda water to stop the reaction. If you leave it long it will all turn black.

Then I used a vinegar and salt solution. Cover it with plastic for an hour or so. Only let the plastic come in contact on certain parts…this will create different reactions. Mine looked like this now:

Rinse and let it finish reacting. It’s a bit of a crapshoot. If you don’t like it, sand it off and try again. When you get something you like….seal it with laquer. I really like how this one turned out.

Questions and comments always welcome.

Take care knuckleheads, Red

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

42 comments so far

View Tugboater78's profile


1895 posts in 1230 days

#1 posted 11-08-2013 06:12 PM

Looks damn good

-- Justin - the tugboat woodworker - " nothing changed me like the first shnick from a well sharpened, decent hand plane"

View LesB's profile


1150 posts in 2481 days

#2 posted 11-08-2013 06:14 PM

Nice work. Looks great.
Never considered copper for a top. I have used linoleum flooring inlays (the real stuff not vinyl) with a similar affect.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Mosquito's profile (online now)


6534 posts in 1330 days

#3 posted 11-08-2013 06:33 PM

Nice work Red, I really like the way that copper turned out

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN -- Stanley #45 Evangelist -

View ToddJB's profile


4694 posts in 1168 days

#4 posted 11-08-2013 06:51 PM

Red, that is a really handsome piece of furniture. The curved kick plate really was a great choice in design.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View pintodeluxe's profile


4100 posts in 1851 days

#5 posted 11-08-2013 07:11 PM

You did it right my friend. I love to see projects in alder. I haven’t had the chance to work with it yet, but not too different than cherry I suspect. Great info on the copper process, I love the look.
I like the dark mahogany stain, it is a great fit for the alder material.
You must shed a little tear every time one of these pieces leaves your shop for delivery.

Going to my favorites list.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Don W's profile

Don W

16660 posts in 1606 days

#6 posted 11-08-2013 07:12 PM

you do some nice work Red. Thanks for sharing it.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View terryR's profile


4555 posts in 1347 days

#7 posted 11-08-2013 07:14 PM

Awesome, build, Red. Love the dimensions and the rustic finish. That copper is cool…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Tim's profile


2450 posts in 1000 days

#8 posted 11-08-2013 07:17 PM

Very nice Red. Hopefully you charged enough to make up for the previous commission from h#!!. I bet they’re happy with it.

View murch's profile


1238 posts in 1663 days

#9 posted 11-08-2013 07:27 PM

Beautiful piece of work. You can be proud of that one. Well done.

-- A family man has photos in his wallet where his money used to be.

View RPhillips's profile


1100 posts in 874 days

#10 posted 11-08-2013 07:29 PM

Love it man, your definitely an inspiration.

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

View darinS's profile


599 posts in 1905 days

#11 posted 11-08-2013 07:52 PM

Beautiful work as always Red. I really enjoyed this. Gonna have to remember the stuff about the copper in case I need it at a later time.

-- Rule #13: Never, ever involve lawyers.

View john2005's profile


1595 posts in 1216 days

#12 posted 11-08-2013 07:53 PM

Nice work Red, lovin how the copper came out. Thats a fine piece

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


16436 posts in 2714 days

#13 posted 11-08-2013 07:54 PM

Very nice, especially like the top.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View a1Jim's profile


113725 posts in 2615 days

#14 posted 11-08-2013 07:55 PM

Very cool top to bottom

-- Custom furniture

View BigRedKnothead's profile


7027 posts in 1020 days

#15 posted 11-08-2013 08:09 PM

Thanks for all the encouragement guys.

Willie- it can be painful to watch them go out the door. Especially because I’m getting better, and the recent pieces are nicer than stuff in MY house;) However, it’s rewarding when people really like what you’ve made for them. A little boost to the woodworking fund doesn’t hurt either.
You’ll have to try some alder one day. It’s not as hard as cherry, but it’s fun to work with. Planes like buddah!

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

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