Stickley "Done Darkly" #1: The process and how it came to being...

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Blog entry by schroeder posted 08-01-2007 10:28 PM 5241 reads 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Stickley Done “Darkly”

This is a table we are building for friends, (based in part on a design by Rex Alexander). The table above is a similar one I built out of White Oak. We have this group of friends who have a “retreat” (basically a hunting lodge built by men – for men). Kinda looks like the interior was done by Cabela’s, clearly the wives had no influence. It has a shower on the deck, six bedrooms lined up in a row, tile floors throughout, leather chairs and couch… rustic look through and through. At any rate, it’s a pretty nice place, but in the photo album, for the past 20 years, there is always this crappy fold up picnic table for a dining table. Even after they built this new “lodge” there is that crappy little table…Well they very graciously invite Al & I over each year to hunt pheasants and never let us pay, so we thought we would build them a table worthy of the surroundings.
This is a mission style, similar to the one in the picture, but from Black Walnut, really gnarly Black Walnut and we have decided to carve several “appropriate” sayings on the underside. There are four in all…
”If you can read this…your Drunk …Go To bed”
“If you’re going to be dumb…you gotta be tough…”
(these last two are in Latin – We’re not going to tell all of them the translations)
“Don’t sweat the little S#@$…” and “Bull#@&* baffles wisdom”
So – that’s the story. We are almost done, so I thought I’d post the blog, and here it is as a step by step process…I hope you enjoy it!
Top is 1.75 inches thick,45 inches wide and 98 inches long – heavy!
Board Selection:
From the stash that Al has been hoarding for 25 years, they are ROUGH! And required a lot of work to get em ready.

Next I milled the long rails, legs and short stiles…

While I worked on the base Al got started on the top –

We designed the table so that we could glue up in stages. We made three glue-ups that would still fit through the planer. We left everything a little thick, then when we had three panels for the top, we planed them to final thickness. This gave us only two glue lines to clean up by hand. I ran a chunk of bees wax along the top of the glue joint so that any squeeze-out could be easily cleaned…

Then we trimmed the thing to the final length, and sunk 5 – 1” dowels for the breadboard. These give us some long grain to screw into, since we won’t be using any glue on the outer 1/3rd.

Now we were ready to route the tongue for the breadboard – The breadboard is 6 1/8” so we wanted a 2” tongue for holding power. I put a 30 degree taper on the ends of the breadboards and left them proud about ¼” to allow for expansion. I mortised out the slot for the B.B. and had a test fit!

I went back to work on the frame…

Fitting and cutting out the center to prevent racking, squaring and aesthetics.

…And base is done with three coats of sealer…

Where is the top…o-yea, carving the final details on the “pontification’s”

I’ll finish the post with the final photo’s in a couple of weeks. We are finishing with 3 coats of clear poly-oil, and seven coats of satin poly with a final dark wax.
Thanks for lookin! ( I gotta start building lighter projects!)

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

7 comments so far

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4056 days

#1 posted 08-01-2007 10:55 PM

Beautiful piece and amazing craftsmanship. Thanks for sharing the process with images. In the last two photos you are carving the “pontifications” into the bottom and it looks like you’re useing stencil lettering (classy touch doing it on the underside of the table by the way). I have been trying my hand at carving lettering lately and would be very interested in a bit more info about how you went about doing that if you don’t mind. Again, wonderful work and thank you for sharing this with us.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4088 days

#2 posted 08-01-2007 11:03 PM

Thanks Chip, its been a fun process. But alas,...I suck at carving letters. That’s my partner in the shop, Al Cronk in the picture. I am learning to carve via many books…but, I still suck! He lays out the stencils and chips fly – he makes it look easy…sorry I’m not much help there.

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4056 days

#3 posted 08-01-2007 11:05 PM

I kind of figured it was for layout purposes but had never seen stencils used. Again, great piece!

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4124 days

#4 posted 08-01-2007 11:10 PM

what a wonderful “thank you” and a good laugh as well (re: sayings on the underside)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Dale's profile


31 posts in 3945 days

#5 posted 08-02-2007 03:48 AM

Awesome! I love both the white oak and walnut versions. Great work! I made a similar table based on Stickley Done Lightly too, mine was made with maple.

-- Dale, Pittsburgh PA -

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3960 days

#6 posted 08-07-2007 08:47 AM

This is an awesome process that you’ve documented…thoroughly enjoyed looking this over, and looking forward to the finished piece!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View CaptainSkully's profile


1590 posts in 3522 days

#7 posted 04-23-2009 05:00 AM

Dude! I was drawing up my plans in AutoCAD, and your blog pics helped immensely. I’m using the 1.618 Golden Mean for the tabletop with 12” inset on the ends and 6” inset on the sides. Overall, it’s 72”L x 44.5”W x 30”H, which I think will work perfectly for our dining room. Thanks for your excellent example and support. After this, I’m gonna make some chairs. Finally…

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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