The Table

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Blog entry by schroeder posted 03-09-2007 07:15 PM 2074 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my biggest project to date and longest blog. This dining room table and chairs are a modified combination of Stickley, Kevin Rodel and Rex Alexander.

As described in my Morris Chair blog, friends of mine were building a new home and they asked me to build them a dining room table and chairs in the craftsman style. I felt comfortable enough with my skill level to make the investment in lumber and was willing to take the time for the chance at a project of this scale.

I researched every book I could lay my hands on and presented to the clients a plan for a design with leaves that expanded the table to over nine feet. Their home is ranges in the large sq.ft. neighborhood with a dramatic window in the dining area. They asked that instead of a table with leaves, that I build a solid table to fit that area, otherwise, I had total design freedom. This meant that the table would be about nine feet long.

I modified a design used by Rex Alexander and came up with a plan, for a project this large, I decided that every step had to be carefully thought out to make joinery, glue-up, smoothing, and just moving the damn heavy thing, efficient. I wanted to use quarter sawn lumber for stability and to get the fleck in the grain. I fumed the whole project using 33% ammonia. I had a little experience with “fumed” projects, and was about to get a whole lotsa experience with the ammonia fuming process.

Off to the lumber store I went to pick up 500 bf of 8/4 quarter sawn white oak.

I’ve never used “store-bought” lumber before and was pleasantly surprised by how it didn’t take much work to get it jointed, resawed and ready to go. It didn’t look like that much lumber sitting all piled up, but since the client wanted the sap wood left in the project, ultimately I built the table, six side chairs, two end chairs, two Morris chairs, two ottomans and still have enough left over for a mantle – I’m here to tell you that 500 bf is A LOT of lumber.

So the project –
After milling the wood, I glued up the legs so I would have quarter sawn on all four faces. Then I built the framework – I designed the table so that eight people could sit comfortably with 20 inches of “elbow room” and at least 18 inches of leg space.

I glued up a long stretcher, and milled the end stiles

Cut and fit the middle stiles and cross braces ( I used 7 and 11 stiles for the entire project – lucky numbers!)

At this point, the frame was basically complete. I was ready to tackle the top. I think this thing must weigh 300 lbs glued up.

I spent a lot of time selecting and positioning the boards. Since the sapwood was left in, I wanted it to form some sort of logical pattern. I also wanted the top to have proportionate board widths throughout (I hate the looks of tops with varying widths of boards). I surfaced the stock oversized. I glued up the top in sections, I used biscuits for alignment, waxed each edge before glue up and made each section so that it would be no wider than my planer. Once I had all my sections, I planed to the final thickness and glued up the final top (only two pieces at this point). Using this method, I only really had to level the last joint after glue up.

A final check to make sure I didn’t screw up –

At this point I wanted to put breadboard ends with some walnut accents. I used a method described by Kevin Rodel and placed dowels into the short grain on the ends of the top, routed down to my final thickness and glued the center and screwed into the long grain of the dowels.

Client inspection –

Final on the breadboards –

Sand, scrape and fit the breadboards to the top and SHE BE DONE –

I timed the project so the table would be complete in the summer. I had to finish it outside, and I wanted as much heat as I could get for the fuming process.

Into the fuming tent –

After fuming –

At this point I was ready for finishing. I applied 3 coats of sealer, and 7 coats of polyurethane and finally a coat of wax.

An un-fumed, unfinished, board for comparison –

Finally, The table is DONE and ready for storage until the clients house is done.

A celebratory drink for the finished project

As a side note – I stored the table all winter in non heated/climate controlled storage area (western Oregon), and the top bowed. I knew it would, I’ve had some experience with this before – that’s part of the reason I used quarter sawn wood. It probably bowed an inch from edge to center – Once it got into the home and climate control, it settled back down to perfect after about 2 months.

We ultimately gave this project to our friends as a house warming present. They seemed pleased and grateful, and I’m happy to have my work in their home.

I’ll post the Chairs in a separate blog and a final project when the thing is in its final place in their home and I can take some decent photo’s


-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

12 comments so far

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4272 days

#1 posted 03-09-2007 07:26 PM

Very nice, I like the way the fuming turned out. Looks great, will really be waiting to see the chairs. On the chairs did you use an existing set of plans or your own??

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4124 days

#2 posted 03-09-2007 07:34 PM

Thanks Max – I modified a set used by Rex Alexander – his originals called for highbacks and I reduced them to 48”. I changed the “stile” layout and designed the end chairs to be fitted with arm rest. He had the best design I could find to go off of…

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4313 days

#3 posted 03-09-2007 10:16 PM

Pretty cool. Nice looking blog.

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4399 days

#4 posted 03-09-2007 10:30 PM

Very nice design and presentation. You can be proud.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4176 days

#5 posted 03-10-2007 01:11 AM

Schroeder, this is a very informative article. I appreciate the step-by-step photo’s and the commentary. Am I correct that this is the same project as your showed us here?

I like your approach to breadboard ends. Would you be so kind as to provide a detailed explanation of the construction of these?

Bessey must love you!

Beautiful work.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4326 days

#6 posted 03-10-2007 01:56 AM

Beautiful. The table is just fantastic, great blog entry as well.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4124 days

#7 posted 03-10-2007 06:28 AM

Thanks all – this “blogging” thing is pretty cool

Don – the bread boards are laid out to be just wider than the table (like we talked before) to allow for expansion. These breadboards have a 3 inch tounge, so on the table top, I measured in 1 1/2 inches, drilled out and put in 1 inch dowels. Then I routed the table 3 inches in on top and bottom until I had exactly a 1/2 inch tounge (routed the dowels already in the top with the rest of the tounge – I think you can see this in the photo’s). Then morticed the breadboard 1/2 inch x 3 inch(+) deep on the inside and 1 1/2 inches x 3 inch on the outside (3 mortices – correspondeing to where the dowels were placed), I still had meat in the breadboard through which to drill. I put the breadboard on and drilled through the smaller outside mortices, into the tounge and, consequently, the dowels in the tounge (this makes the dowels concealed). I glued/screwed (tight) the center only (again for expansion allowance) and screwed the outer two mortices on the breadboard ( I elongated the holes in the outer two mortices going into the breadboard, again to allow for expansion/contraction). If you look under “Fine Woodworking #178” you can see Kevin Rodel’s expalnation and graphics, alas, he is a much better craftsman and gives a better description than I can.

And ya, I’sure Bessy Loves us – But in my (shops) defense, Bessy wouldn’t sponser us (tho I think we are worthy) and the clamps were a long time coming! ;)

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4176 days

#8 posted 03-10-2007 06:34 AM

Thanks, Schroeder. I know I’ve been a little repetitive in my questions about breadboard ends, but I see quite a few differing approached to the details of the joinery and want to understand the various ways of doing these.

Garry Rogowski also wrote an article on the subject for Fine Woodworking in #171. His approach is slightly different.

Thanks for your detailed answer.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4159 days

#9 posted 03-10-2007 01:24 PM

they “seemed” pleased???? I hope they gave you more praise than that!!
Gorgeous and such work..

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View rentman's profile


230 posts in 4093 days

#10 posted 03-17-2007 03:22 PM

Nice I love that table.

-- Phil, Chattanooga,TN

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4160 days

#11 posted 03-17-2007 06:15 PM

Very nice work Schroeder! A wonderful piece you created.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Drew1House's profile


425 posts in 4087 days

#12 posted 03-18-2007 05:56 PM

What a friend right guys…. I have VERY few friends who would do such a thing for me and I have some very good friends… I hope they can find a wonderful way to return the favor.


-- Drew, Pleasant Grove, Utah

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