Knotty Alder Sideboard with Copper Patina Top

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Project by BigRedKnothead posted 11-08-2013 06:00 PM 6618 views 45 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


2389 posts in 1553 days

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

Looks damn good

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View LesB's profile


1220 posts in 2804 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


7709 posts in 1653 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 - -

View ToddJB's profile


6482 posts in 1491 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


4714 posts in 2174 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

17722 posts in 1928 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


6055 posts in 1669 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


2958 posts in 1322 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


1313 posts in 1985 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


1110 posts in 1197 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


674 posts in 2228 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.

-- They say many people die because of alcohol. They never realized how many of them are born because of it.

View john2005's profile


1737 posts in 1539 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


17481 posts in 3037 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


115031 posts in 2938 days

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

Very cool top to bottom

-- Custom furniture

View BigRedKnothead's profile


7824 posts in 1343 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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