Rustic solid walnut coffee table

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Project by JeanValjean posted 01-20-2019 11:12 PM 796 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I was a young man I helped my grandfather saw some walnut trees that were on his property. That was probably 1972 and I was maybe 10 years old….
He stored the lumber in his barn for years and never used it for anything…...a few years before his passing in ‘96 he offered for me to take whatever I wanted of that lumber so I took several slabs even though I was not a woodworker at that time.
As the years progressed I took up the hobby…. and as my skills, tools, machinery and shop space grew, I knew I wanted to make something special of that wood but what I didn’t know…
I didn’t have enough to make anything real large but it needed to be a showpiece.
I settled on a coffee table and I wanted the top to be live edge, and a rustic “feel” to match my decor of “rustic hunting lodge”…
The top is 1 1/2 inches thick and features a significant amount of curl as well as the transition from heartwood to sapwood is quite colorful. There was insect activity in the sapwood so using an air gun I blew the dust out of the canals and laid in several coats of finish using a syringe.
This helped to keep the final finish flat and allow the insect tracks to add character but not texture or collect dust.
The slabs were up to 10/4 thick and I had a bunch of flattening and resawing to do but I finally got the stock to where I wanted it.
The legs are mitered with a spline lengthwise to reinforce the joint.
The apron is all mortise and tenon joinery.
The drawer is 9 ply Baltic Birch and the drawer has two 1/4 inch dado’s and engage with a 1/4 inch hickory “runner” and after an application of beeswax, the drawer slides as though it were on a cushion of air.
Finish is 2 coats of General Finishes Enduro sanding sealer with a scuff sanding of 400 grit after each coat.
I followed that with three coats (spray application) of General Finishes “High Performance” water based polyurethane top coat, that was also followed with a sanding with 400 grit between coats.
The finish meets my goal of a silky smooth surface you can’t resist touching.
I’m very happy with the result and I know my grandpa would be proud of this piece.
I am a deeply sentimental person and this table means a lot to me, I will display some of the Knick-knacks that my grandmother had on the coffee table in her living room.

-- Semper Fi

8 comments so far

View bushmaster's profile


3504 posts in 2547 days

#1 posted 01-21-2019 01:51 AM

Very nice work, walnut, precious wood, extra special that you helped cut it when you where very young. The history makes the piece. you can put a sign on it, NOT FOR SALE

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View swirt's profile


3664 posts in 3236 days

#2 posted 01-21-2019 02:53 AM

I like the story and the design. That drawer that just kind of hides underneath is a real nice addition. Well done.

-- Galootish log blog,

View splinterpicker's profile


39 posts in 417 days

#3 posted 01-21-2019 03:24 AM

Awesome story behind the project.

View builtinbkyn's profile


2790 posts in 1205 days

#4 posted 01-21-2019 04:51 AM

Nice work. It’s a worthy memorial to the memory you have of you and your grandfather on that day.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View leafherder's profile


1661 posts in 2216 days

#5 posted 01-21-2019 05:36 PM

A great table made from great wood with a great story to go along with it. Write it all down and keep it in that drawer so that future generations can appreciate the heirloom that you created.

I am also a sentimentalist and currently preparing to sell the house where mom lived for 50 years. In the back yard are two walnut trees I grew from seed – hoping to find someone to turn them into useful lumber before I have to sell.

Thanks for posting.

-- Leafherder

View alembic's profile


3 posts in 25 days

#6 posted 01-21-2019 05:44 PM

Great project, well done!

View pottz's profile


4058 posts in 1249 days

#7 posted 01-21-2019 05:51 PM

very nice story to go with a beautiful table.part of grandpa will always be with you.great job.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Tucker Grose's profile

Tucker Grose

10 posts in 78 days

#8 posted 01-21-2019 11:20 PM

I like your project and the story behind it.
I’m working on a walnut coffee table now with a similar story behind it. Only in this case it was my father in law who cut the walnut tree. After he passed away I inherited his tools and now am learning to make a table. I only hope he would be half as proud of me as I’m sure your grandfather would be of you and that beautiful table.
Good job!

-- Tucker - Hazelton, BC, Canada

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