Small walnut side table with drawer

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AndyT

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There's a really helpful and generous member on here. He lives down in the New Forest, where he makes astonishingly beautiful furniture for discerning customers who appreciate quality work. He also finds time to patiently answer loads of questions, drawing on his practical experience.

You may have noticed that he has posted several times about this little table:

Shaker-Side-Table.jpg


He mentioned this table a good while back, when I was just starting to think about making one. Not only did he send me some magazine articles to help inspire me, he offered to sort out some "offcuts" that I could make it from. Naturally, I took him up on his offer and after a pleasant drive down to Hampshire I met him in his workshop where we talked for a couple of hours and he started filling the boot of my car with wood.

I am of course, talking about Custard, the grinning pink cat with the most thumbs-up thank-yous of anyone on this forum. Custard's offcuts are not tiny little scraps like mine, fit only for making dolls house furniture - they are lovely boards of high grade timber which he "just happens" to have sawn and carefully planed to the right sizes to be used as table legs, tops, drawer sides and so on.

So this project starts with a great big Thankyou to Custard. And a big helping of embarrassment that it has taken me over a year of doing all sorts of other things (going on holiday, painting the house, contributing to sharpening threads...) except starting this table. :oops: But now I have finished my other projects. I've done the Christmas shopping. I've tidied the workshop. I've even flattened the top of the bench. I feel really apprehensive about this and don't want to mess it up, but now it's time to start!

One thing I have done in the time is to sit and think carefully about the details of the construction and the size of the table, to fit the one spot in our house where there is room for it. I have studied articles and books and I have forced myself to draw a full-size diagram so I am sure I understand how it all fits together. I've also written out a cutting list.

The design is an old Shaker one. It's in Thomas Moser's book "How to Build Shaker Furniture". It's also featured in a magazine article by Christopher Schwarz available here: https://www.popularwoodworking.com/wp-c ... 4-Seg2.pdf

I need to modify the design a little - I want my table to be rectangular, not square - but I will follow the suggested widths and thicknesses quite closely. That's one reason why I will work in inches on this project. (Other reasons are that most of my measuring tools are imperial and so is most of my brain.) Also, I won't be machining rebates for the drawers, but doing them old-school with dovetails and slips, like I did on my little chest of drawers.

Here is my drawing, on a piece of lining paper, somewhat faded from the weeks it spent laid out on a desk in the spare bedroom.

plan1.jpg


Here's part of the top, possibly close enough to see the pencil lines

plan2.jpg


The point of the drawing was to force myself to think about the sizes of all the components, including the awkward little runners and stretchers and spacers. There are more separate pieces in this than you might think.

So here you can see the wood that Custard gave me - enough to make two or three tables!

all_wood.jpg


After an hour or so, I had sorted out which pieces of walnut and oak will be suitable for each item on the cutting list, and labelled them all, so I can be confident that I am using wood which will look right, while not wasting it. Here are all the parts, piled up on my table saw - probably its only contribution to this project.

table_wood.jpg


The first step has to be gluing up the two pieces of lovely book-matched walnut that will make the top. I want to keep the top as large as I can. If it ends up not the same as I have drawn it, I can adjust dimensions of the other pieces to suit. I'll then make a rod to give me actual dimensions to work to.

So, first decision - which way to edge-join these two pieces. Like this:

bookmatch1.jpg


or like this?

bookmatch2.jpg


Now, that's sort of a rhetorical question, as I have already glued them together but I hope you all agree that the first option is the right one. I think it looks more like a single piece of wood than the other, where the busier grain doesn't join up so well and the pattern seems to divide into three stripes.

So, I boldly carried on, with a No 7

edge_joint1.jpg


and a 4½

edge_joint2.jpg


taking not very much off and repeatedly taking each piece in and out of the vice and holding them together up to the light. Eventually I was happy with a very slight gap in the middle and tight ends and moved on to the glue up. I'm using Liquid Hide Glue which says it's ok above 50° F. It's about 56°F / 13°C in my workshop so I should be ok. Out with the protective cloth, Record sash cramps and an antique wooden one. No action shots of putting the glue on, but you all know what that looks like.

cramped_top.jpg


Next time, I'll get the top flattened and squared up and then embark on the framework.
 

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will1983

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Looking good already, I'll be following this one with interest. I love shaker furniture.
 

El Barto

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Also looking forward to this.

And kudos on the shoutout to Custard. Without being all gushy, his generosity and knowledge are one of the reasons this forum is so great.
 

nabs

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excellent, I will enjoy following along (and 100% agree about Custard - top chap!).
 

Racers

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Nice Andy, Custard is a great chap.

You got the top the right way round.

Pete
 

Chris152

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Looking forward to seeing this develop. I've learned one thing already - using an off-cut each side of the boards to spread evenly the load exerted by the clamps? I'd not seen that before.
 

John15

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Watching with interest Andy. I'm currently making something similar myself but I'm so slow you will be finished long before me. Good luck.

John
 

Sheffield Tony

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Ahh great. I do love your projects Andy.

But ... I'm not sure your rhetorical question has a completely obvious answer. I can see the option you chose avoids jarring mismatch of the grain patterns at the join.
It fits very much with advice I've seen in earlier thread (from Custard ?). But for someone used to seeing wide boards sawn "through and through", it looks strangely inside out !
I mean that in a single wide board, you'd get the annual rings at the steep angle towards the edges, and nearer parallel to the face in the middle, so the wide,
wavy grain in the middle and the close straighter grain at the sides. Not that I disagree with your decision, but I think the question is worth considering.
 

AndyT

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Thanks all for your interest and encouragement - it's really welcome. Tony, thanks for your thoughts on the matching - I see what you mean, and it's why I hesitated, but in the end it was my desire to make the join disappear which won.

Anyone who's looked at one of my earlier projects will know not to expect rapid progress, but I like covering things in some detail. It's interesting to compare methods and there's always the chance that someone will learn from what they see, or suggest a better method I'd not used.
Today's update is on a couple of hours of work, but won't look much.

I took the top out of the cramps and was pleased to see that the glue line was nice and tight.
The wood was not perfectly flat, so I knew that I would need to do some planing, but I don't want to do more than I have to. The wood is only about 5/8" thick, which is fine - I want this to look delicate - but there is no gain by wasting away wood.

It was high along the outer edges and low in the middle.

not_flat.jpg


Simple planing against a couple of bench dogs was all it needed, skewing the back of the plane on the low middle.

top_planing.jpg


The plane was a bit hard to push, so I stopped and sharpened it. I mention that just to stress how frequent sharpening needs to be - just like sharpening a pencil - not because I want to discuss how to sharpen.

sharpen.jpg


I stopped flattening before I had got the top completely flat. I wouldn't normally bother measuring flatness, I'd just test against a straight edge, but for the sake of clarity, it's about 10 thou hollow in the middle. I can easily deal with that later when I can give the top its final surface. If I do it now I risk having to take more wood off if I accidentally mark it. I'll put a bevel on the underside later, but not until I have made the framework and can check the sizes of bevel needed.

feeler.jpg


A question - the top has a pair of tiny insect holes. I would fill these with walnut sawdust and hide glue - but can anyone suggest anything better that I ought to be using? Do I need to do anything to remove the blackening on the outside of the holes?

pinholes.jpg


In my drawing, the top is 18" by 13½". In practice, I can enlarge it a bit, to 18 7/8" by 13 15/16" (800 x 339 mm if you prefer). I will do this - there's no reason not to. Making a free standing piece I can choose the dimensions and they don't have to be round numbers.

The ends need to be trimmed square. For this little amount, there was no need to saw the ends, I could just plane them. I knifed a line all round, then chiselled a chamfer. The chamfer prevents chipping or spelching at the edges and show how near you are to the line.

knife_line.jpg


chisel_end.jpg


chamfered.jpg


end_planing.jpg


This walnut does plane really nicely, even on end grain.

end_grain_shavings.jpg


end_block_planing.jpg
 

AndyT

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Having sort-of done the top, I now need to get the legs and aprons etc to size.
The wood that Custard gave me for the legs is lovely and straight, with the grain carefully selected to look good on all four sides of each leg. (This is explained in detail in the Popular Woodworking article I linked to in my first post.)
There is some slant to the grain as well, which I should be able to exploit when cutting the tapers - some of the tapered surfaces can follow the slanting grain.
That's easy to describe, but you wouldn't want to watch me shifting all the legs around into all the possible positions before deciding which way round to arrange each one... :roll:
(Including time to check that the tapering happens on the insides of the legs, not the outsides, and then rearrange them and mark them...)

Anyway, I ended up with a stack of four pieces

legs1.jpg


They are over-long, so I cut some of the length off. I didn't cut to the finished length though - that will come after the joints and tapers are cut. This is the sort of job for which I like my trusty old Burgess bandsaw, so here's a posed shot of it having cut two legs to length.

legs3.jpg


And then it was planing time. Not much for you to see, but these pieces are about 1 3/8" square and I want them to be 1 1/8" square. Being a careful sort of chap, I planed an eighth off each side, using a Stanley 5½ and finishing off with a 4½.

An hour or so later my bench was looking like this

legs2.jpg


and then like this

shavings1.jpg


It's a bit frustrating that most of the fresh planing on two faces on each leg will be removed to make the taper, but I think this is the right way to go about it - make all the legs straight, square and matching, cut the mortices, then the tapers. The walnut is lovely stuff to plane - much nicer than softwood.
Did I mention the need to resharpen when the plane gets hard to push? I reckon once per leg is about right.

I'll do some more when I can find the time, and leave you with this for now.

shavings2.jpg
 

Bm101

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In the middle of a loft extension here Andy, my beginners side projects down the shed don't get a look in and won't for some time. My brain is working on 4x2 and nail gun accuracy scales, tiling and celotex. What a fantastic timing that you've started this now then. It's shed by proxy. :wink:
I learn a huge amount on UKW from all sorts of different people and I'm thankful for all of them but I have to say I do enjoy a good read of your WIPs more than most. Sure I won't cause offence by that as I have no doubt it's a feeling shared by many. You have a great writing style, enjoyable to read, unforced yet enthused, modest but I realise a lot every time I read one. You shine a light on details that others often miss out. I look forward to seeing more as always.
Cheers fella.
Regards
Chris
 

StraightOffTheArk

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Bm101":2and6ac2 said:
In the middle of a loft extension here Andy, my beginners side projects down the shed don't get a look in and won't for some time. My brain is working on 4x2 and nail gun accuracy scales, tiling and celotex. What a fantastic timing that you've started this now then. It's shed by proxy. :wink:
I learn a huge amount on UKW from all sorts of different people and I'm thankful for all of them but I have to say I do enjoy a good read of your WIPs more than most. Sure I won't cause offence by that as I have no doubt it's a feeling shared by many. You have a great writing style, enjoyable to read, unforced yet enthused, modest but I realise a lot every time I read one. You shine a light on details that others often miss out. I look forward to seeing more as always.
Cheers fella.
Regards
Chris


My sentiments also, only written better than I could have! (Except that I'm not in the middle of a loft extension, for which, considering the temperature, I am thankful!)
 

AndyT

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It's really nice to see the interest in this little project. It will help me get on with it as often as I can, though there is some sort of big event coming up in a week or so which might interrupt a bit... :ho2

Today, I have been mostly planing...

I've reduced the other legs down to the skinny-looking 1⅛" required, taking shavings from all four sides, which everyone says is important.

Looking at my earlier pictures of the lovely curly shavings coming off this walnut, I realised I was using a jack plane and could probably be taking a heavier cut. I found I could still (just) push the plane with a deeper setting.
The immediately noticeable difference was that the shavings stopped coming off in full length curls and started crumbling in much smaller bits, like this:

thicker_shavings.jpg


I guess it's all part of the subtle relationship between timber type, shaving thickness and position of the cap iron. The good thing was that it did go a little bit quicker and I soon had a set of straight-ish, square-ish legs. I've marked them in pen on the top ends and in chalk to remind me of which sides are going to get planed down for the tapers later on.

planed_legs.jpg


The only other thing I have made so far is a tub of designer packing material!

shavings_bucket.jpg
 

Fitzroy

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Looking good! Shavings are ace for getting the fire going. Just about used the last of a massive box I had after making oak framing pegs.
 

AndyT

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Ok, a quick update. I have spent several hours in the workshop, but in some ways there isn't a lot to show for it yet. But I think that's because I always underestimate how hard it is to sort out all the parts and get them marked up right, the right way round and checked several times.
Most written articles and videos start with selected, dimensioned pieces of wood, but although it's not the most visually interesting stage, it is an important one. So here are some photos and random notes.

The wood Custard gave me included suitable stuff for all the parts of a table. Sometimes it was very easy to decide what to use:

drawer_front.jpg


but there's still scope to go wrong - that saw cut gives me enough wood for the width of drawer that I need - but only just, and I have to mark and cut out carefully. Having managed to make the top a little bigger than planned, I decided to keep the underframe as drawn, not enlarged - and the length of this nice piece was one reason for that decision. The drawer front will be marked from and fitted to the aperture it will fit in, later on.

drawer_pieces.jpg


The apron rails at sides and back need to be 5" deep so as to get a drawer deep enough to be worth having. The suitable pieces of wood were a little bit wider but had some sapwood and splits at the edges. Fortunately there was enough room to plane away the defects.
This is part of the fun of working with wood - you can remove defects or hide them where they won't be seen - but it all takes up thinking time.

apron_width.jpg


I could bandsaw away the little knot on the edge and avoid the other one altogether.

remove_defect.jpg


Defects like this can be hidden away on the inside of the framing - the wood is perfect on the side which will show.

defects2.jpg


I've done most of the planing so far with a Stanley 5½ but for this job I tried my rather nice Preston jointer (£5 from a stall at the Westonbirt Woodfest a few years ago). Although I don't use it very often, I actually found it easier to keep upright than the Stanley plane, and its greater mass made it good for taking off a fairly thick shaving.

preston_jointer.jpg


There are a few measurements on this project which have to be right to make it all square. The actual size in inches is not so critical, but you do want pairs of rails and all four legs to match. The simple solution is to cut them over length, clamp them together, and mark off the shoulder lines in one go. You then separate the parts and mark all round. This is what I did.

apron_marks.jpg


side_aprons.jpg


leg_marking.jpg


It still took ages. With the legs, the two at the back have mortices on two adjacent faces. The two at the front have a long mortice each, plus a tiny mortice for the rail below the drawer and a dovetail at the top. The legs each get tapered on the two internal faces.
So it's really important to get all the marking done on the right faces, following the reference side and edge properly.

I shall probably bandsaw away the bulk of the wood for the tapers, then plane to the line, so I need a line I can see. This pencil line is just not clear enough on this dark timber.

taper_line_pencil.jpg


It's much clearer in macro shots here than it is in real life. (Clear enough to see where I have left some tear-out - which will get removed - and failed to plane down to my gauge line - though it is also in the waste :oops: . )

I tried using tape instead and I think it will be much clearer. It is also easier to position than holding a steel ruler at the right angle to draw along.

taper_line_tape.jpg


I'll try and get some actual cutting done before Xmas, but please bear with me. It will all speed up, provided it doesn't slow down too much - and I seem to have hurt my back putting up Xmas cards!
 
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