A Hepplewhite style Federal game table in six days, PIX.

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Blog entry by John Fry posted 09-18-2008 02:49 AM 16934 reads 10 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A while back I posted a project that I did in my shop in California with my woodworking friend Jack Hutchison from Houston, TX. Here is that post:

A Krenov Inspired Cabinet on Stand in Six Days

We completed that cabinet during a six day visit by Jack. Our agreement was that at some future date, I would go to Houston and we’d do another six day project in his shop.

So….I arrived at Jack’s and we completed a much more complicated piece in another six day time frame and here it is……….. A Hepplewhite style Federal game table in solid walnut, with veneers, inlays, string banding, and rosewood cross banding.

The top is made up of beautiful shop sawn, highly figured walnut veneers, laminated on a sold walnut substrate.

The first step was to re-saw the figured walnut plank into 1/16” shop sawn veneers. Here they are stickered and air drying.

The selected veneers where taped and edge glued prior to pressing in the vacuum bag.

The edge glued veneers where scraped and prepped for pressing onto the solid wood substrate.

While the tops where in the press, the leg stock was milled and drilled for the solid gaboon ebony “booties” to be attached using dowels.

Using paper cutouts, we laid out the curve for the serpentine aprons.

The templates were carefully cut and shaped.

The next step was to taper the legs on the table saw. This was done after the booties were attached to give the entire leg a smooth taper on two sides.

The joinery for the aprons to the legs is all mortise and tenon. The tenons were cut on the table saw using a standard tenon jig.

The cross grained Santos rosewood banding was all custom made by laminating shop sawn veneers of maple and ebony together and then gluing them to the rosewood blocks. These blocks were re-sawn into 1/16” thick banding strips.

The 1/16” X 1/16” grooves for the ebony and maple string banding were routed using a Dremel mounted on a luthier’s base and a 1/16” solid carbide spiral bit.

The rear apron was attached to the back of the side aprons by half blind dovetails cut on the Leigh D4 jig.

The upper leg mortises were cut using a router and an X-Y axis vice to move the stock.

The curve in the stringing is very sharp so to prevent breakage, the 1/32” thick ebony and maple veneers were glued together at the desired curve. The 1/16” resulting curved veneer was then sliced into strips to be inlaid in the routed recess.

An oval template was made to route the recess for the upper leg block inlays.

The string bandings were glued into the grooves using hide glue and a fine syringe. Each piece of banding was hand mitered by razor blade to create the needed black/white joint at the corners.

After the string banding and the oval inlays have been glued in, the rosewood banding gets inlaid around the legs at the top and bottom.

The wooden hinge that swings the gate legs gets its primary cut for the knuckles by using the “box joint” method.

The outer knuckle coves are cut with a forstner bit. The rest of the hinge work is basically chiseled out by hand.

After many trial and error fittings, the wooden hinge is drilled for the 1/4” steel pin and it gets tapped into place.

The serpentined apron faces are veneered with commercial veneers and here you see the walnut burl and curly maple oval being fit and taped.

The rosewood banding has been inlaid at the bottom of the aprons and preliminary sanding is completed on all the table base parts. It is ready for a dry fit.

The tops are made to overhang the apron’s serpentine contour by about one inch. A router template was laid out and cut on the band saw.

Both tops were rough cut on the band saw and then routed to final shape using the template. After this procedure was finished, a center groove was routed all around the edges for the banding inlay.

The shop-made ebony, maple, and rosewood bandings were re-sawn at 1/16” thick and would not make the turn at the corners without breaking. So, I lightly moistened them and used a heated pipe to bend them enough to make it around the sharply curved corners. This really worked well.

The bandings were inlaid into the routed groove around the top’s edges.

This rear view shows the double gate legs swung open on the wooden hinge ready to support the top when it is unfolded to the open position.

A close up of the detail work.

Our plan was to inlay some corner fans on the maple portions of the apron veneer, and border the ellipses and rectangles with a fine cross banded stripe.

Six days just wasn’t enough time to get that done!

Thanks for looking.

-- John, Chisel and Bit Custom Crafted Furniture,

13 comments so far

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 5289 days

#1 posted 09-18-2008 02:57 AM

I love the details of your postings and the quality of your work. It is inspiring and gives me something to shoot for in my own work. Thanks!

-- making sawdust....

View Tony Z's profile

Tony Z

205 posts in 5280 days

#2 posted 09-18-2008 03:07 AM

Impressive. How many hours a day did you put in?

-- Tony, Ohio

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5543 days

#3 posted 09-18-2008 03:32 AM

Another wonderful masterpiece gets added to the collection!

Great work!

Thank you…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 5321 days

#4 posted 09-18-2008 03:54 AM

What a beautiful piece, thanks for sharing so many great photos and detail.

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View John Fry's profile

John Fry

74 posts in 5191 days

#5 posted 09-18-2008 05:01 AM

Tony Z,

We worked about 8 to 9 hours a day. Of course there were no plans, so there was always time spent in the AM over coffee to figure things out.

-- John, Chisel and Bit Custom Crafted Furniture,

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 5376 days

#6 posted 09-18-2008 04:06 PM

AMAZING!!!! Thanks for the post!

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Davesfunwoodworking's profile


278 posts in 5365 days

#7 posted 09-18-2008 04:28 PM

What a great looking table. Great job on all the veneer and inlay work. Great photos on the project. Great job all the way around.

-- Davesfunwoodworking

View Mario's profile


907 posts in 5542 days

#8 posted 09-18-2008 05:14 PM

WOW that is awesome. Very nice work!

-- Hope Never fails

View dan mosheim's profile

dan mosheim

240 posts in 5179 days

#9 posted 09-19-2008 04:32 AM

Very,very,very impressive …. great documenting of a daunting process. Interesting small diameter hot pipe set up….. haven’t seen that one before …. Beautiful table ….

-- dan,vermont,

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 5214 days

#10 posted 09-19-2008 04:38 AM

John…totally amazing! I love this type of work.

I just saw the posted project…thanks for the great step by step blog.

-- Martin, Kansas

View WhattheChuck's profile


474 posts in 5051 days

#11 posted 09-20-2008 05:43 PM

Thanks for the blog—of course the table rocks!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 5297 days

#12 posted 09-20-2008 10:15 PM

John & Jack,

I cannot begin to thank you enough for your detailed blogs. I consider myself very lucky and fortunate to have access to your blog and your documented processes. Everytime I read one of your blogs I feel totally humbled by just how much there is to learn. Thank you for the education and for the unbelievable projects. It is master craftsman’s of your caliber that inspire people like me to take this craft to the next level and never stop learning. THANK YOU!

View CharlieK's profile


605 posts in 5283 days

#13 posted 09-25-2008 03:48 AM

Great piece and great work! 6 days without sleep?

-- Adjustable Height Workbench Plans

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