Claro Dining Table #1: Huge Claro Slab & Design

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Blog entry by Blake posted 09-17-2012 09:19 PM 8539 reads 3 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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For the first time ever I was accepted by a local gallery for my furniture a few months ago, and I’ve even sold a few pieces lately!

I sold the two Opposing Arch Tables (hall table and coffee table) as a set, and I also sold the Wishbone Table. Currently the SUMO Credenza, the Stiletto Cabinet and the Graham Nash Sofa Table are in the gallery for sale.

But now the gallery keeps telling me they want a dining table. So I want to make sure I fill that need before someone else does. And since I have sold a few things I had the cash to go on a little shopping spree at my favorite candy store _Global Wood Source

They had this 6×6 foot, 4” thick slab of Claro Walnut that fit my needs perfectly :)

I didn’t take photos of the milling process but I spent the next couple hours there getting it custom milled and choosing lumber for the base which will be Western Maple.

I was able to get enough large book-matched pieces out of the slab for TWO dining tables. Here they are back in my little shop.

First table top:

Second table top:

Maple for the base of table one:

Claro Walnut “Leftovers”

I always prefer to start with the wood before I design anything (unless its a specific commissioned piece). So once I had my lumber, I went to work in Sketchup to make the most of it. I poured over my stash of inspirational images that I keep on my hard drive from other works and artists that I like.

Then the challenge is to make it my own. One of my favorite styles is the one pioneered by George Nakashima. So its easy to see his influence in my designs.

Here is what I came up with:

And as always, it will change and evolve as I start building but this is a starting point. What do you think?


-- Happy woodworking!

14 comments so far

View Roger's profile


21010 posts in 3281 days

#1 posted 09-17-2012 09:34 PM

Ohhhh man…........that’s gonna be awwwwwesome!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View WhoMe's profile


1568 posts in 3720 days

#2 posted 09-17-2012 10:32 PM

Like Roger said, it is going to be awesome.
With the size of that original slab, i can’t imagine how large that tree must have been. And how old too.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View Lenny's profile


1638 posts in 4004 days

#3 posted 09-17-2012 10:32 PM

Wow, that is a serious chunk of wood you started out with! Best wishes on the build Blake.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 4284 days

#4 posted 09-17-2012 10:59 PM

Hi Blake,

Georgeous piece of wood you got there. Did you consider making one large dining table? A 6’0” table with such a beautiful slab of claro walnut seems too small to me. Not sure if the gallery is dictating the size or not but I would bookmatch the slab in both directions and create one large table. Also, something about the diagonal bracing seems off to me not sure I can put my finger on it but take a look at the scale. I know this is preliminary and that you will refine all the details as you go to create a beautiful piece of art/furniture/sculpture like you always do.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3400 days

#5 posted 09-17-2012 11:50 PM

Good luck with this. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished project. Gorgeous wood.

-- Life is good.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3167 days

#6 posted 09-18-2012 01:39 AM

I love the design and that slab was amazing. Wish I could have seen the tree it came from. Your stuff is always gorgeous so I’m not suprised it is selling.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3780 days

#7 posted 09-18-2012 01:40 AM

wow blake, you scored some fantastic walnut, having it resawn and book matched was one good call, i love the table design, if these dont sell, then there just in the wrong gallery, but i think they will sell, you just might have found a great place to start selling your work, i wishj we had that type of mentality in this area, but in the deep south, its hard to find something like that in this area…feel blessed…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3973 days

#8 posted 09-18-2012 02:46 AM

What a masterpiece these tables are going to be!!!! Beautiful design and absolutely choice selection for the table top. Now Blake, I don’t want you cluttering up your workshop with the “leftovers” that you have so let me know, and I will come on down and get them out of your way !!! Aren’t I a nice guy? !!!

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Karson's profile


35197 posts in 4877 days

#9 posted 09-18-2012 03:40 AM

Great Blake.

You’ve got my interest up.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4351 days

#10 posted 09-18-2012 04:58 AM


Good to see you are still lurking! Its true, my drawings are always “working” designs. Your comment is kind of ironic: ”something about the diagonal bracing seems off to me” …since that was inspired partially from your table! (and I know that you know I don’t mind the criticism at all).

But sometimes I take design elements that I like from various other designs and try to marry them in a way to make it my own (I mean, lets be very realistic, there are very few people in this world with 100% completely new ideas and I don’t pretend to be one of them, at least not on every piece of furniture I build).

Anyway, combining styles doesn’t always work. So I appreciate the food for thought and the fact that someone on this website doesn’t mind starting a real design conversation.

You might be right though. The basis for the design starts from the classic Nakashima style but the diagonals make it look a little Eastern European. Maybe thats the problem now that I think about it? Let me know when you can “put a finger on it.”

When I’m in sketchup I am really just “playing.” I can build a piece of furniture in a few minutes, deconstruct it and start over or change it over and over again. I arrived at this after an hour or two and it looked interesting, substantial, different. My wife’s reaction always has a huge influence on whether I keep a design or not (she’s an artist too) and she really liked this design so it ended up here for public scrutiny.

As for the extra long table, (1) the gallery is very small, (2) I think the price range would be too steep for the venue if it were twice as big and (3) this way I get to build TWO tables which would be more profitable and more fun anyway.

I appreciate everyone’s comments above and welcome more :)

-- Happy woodworking!

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4359 days

#11 posted 09-18-2012 02:21 PM

Hey Blake,
This is going to be fun.
Love your work – I am sure this will be top notch.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View mafe's profile


12096 posts in 3566 days

#12 posted 09-20-2012 09:52 AM

Looking forward to see the result, beautiful wood.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 4284 days

#13 posted 09-20-2012 05:31 PM

Hi Blake,

Makes sense regarding the two smallers table vs one big one. I think I realized what was bothering me about the diagonals. it is not that you have them (I like your inspiration:-)but rather it is the shape/size that I find is conflicting with the rest of the base. The diagonals are very flat/thin vs. the rest of the base. What if they were the same thickness and width as the two horizontal stretchers? Also, if you invert the diagonals you have a “W” for Weber instead of a “M”.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4351 days

#14 posted 09-20-2012 07:04 PM

If the table was destined for my own house I might go with the “W” idea. But for this table I like the tension it creates when its upside down.

As for the proportions, I send the design to the gallery owner to see what she thinks and she really liked it but thought the base was too heavy looking and was wondering if I could make it lighter. I actually agree. That might take care of the shape/size conflict that you were feeling too.

-- Happy woodworking!

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