Dining table inspired by the Greene & Greene Thorsen table #21: Fitting Ebony Splines and Plugs

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Blog entry by TungOil posted 08-22-2017 02:24 AM 3346 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 20: Top Assembly, and Ebony Plugs & Splines Part 21 of Dining table inspired by the Greene & Greene Thorsen table series Part 22: ID Pins and Setting Up the "Spray Booth" »

The next step is to Fit the ebony splines around the perimeter of the table edge and install the remaining square plugs.

The splines where the table opens for the leaves have both a curved face and one end exposed, requiring careful fitting. For these splines, I leave a tab that will be sanded for a precise fit along the inside edge. To set the splines, I first adjust the curved end for a clean fit. Then, I gradually sand the tab on the disc sander until the spline has an even reveal along the table edge. Finally, I scribe the end and carefully trim and sand it flush to the table edge. The outside, pillowed edge of the spline is then finish sanded, followed by a quick polish on the buffing wheel. The end of the spline is not pillowed as it must be flush when installed.

The splines are installed with a bit of glue carefully applied to the inside of the groove. I then install the square plugs in the top, setting the final depth using a simple jig with a shallow dado to set the plugs to a consistent depth.

Fitting the curved splines along the rest of the table edge is easier since they only need to be fit for length and an even reveal along the curved table edge.

To finish up the ebony details, I fit the rectangular plugs. I again use the disc sander to sneak up on the proper length for each plug and sand a very slight taper into the ends of the plug ro assure a tight fit.

With all of the splines and plugs installed the main table is now ready for a final going over then stain and finish.

With the main table completed, I move on to the ebony details in the leaves. Each leave gets 4 splines, 2 rectangular plugs and 8 square plugs. The end of each spline is fit first, then the tab, then finishing up with the open end. A white fabric pencil makes a high visibility mark on the ebony to help sneak up on the final length at the disc sander.

The square and rectangular plugs are installed as above.

With all of the ebony details installed, I put the leaves in to do one last alignment check before I disassemble everything to stain and finish. At 135” long and 65” wide with all four leaves installed, this is about the biggest project that will fit in my current shop space.

It took nearly a full board foot of ebony to make the splines and plugs for this project, which total up to 142 square plugs, 32 splines and 22 rectangular plugs.

Next steps: Add identification pins to the leaves to identify the proper order, stain and finish.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

10 comments so far

View Rich's profile (online now)


7442 posts in 1828 days

#1 posted 08-22-2017 03:28 AM

Looks good, Tung. You’re a talented guy.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 2138 days

#2 posted 08-22-2017 03:32 AM

Looks like things are going great.
Now all you have to do is sand everything flat and you will be done… :)

Very nice work. The craftsmanship is outstanding.

View rodk1's profile


15 posts in 4396 days

#3 posted 08-22-2017 05:31 AM

This is one very Impressive project. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

View edapp's profile


347 posts in 2668 days

#4 posted 08-22-2017 11:58 AM

This project is out of this world! Has been a joy to read and follow.

View splintergroup's profile


5844 posts in 2461 days

#5 posted 08-22-2017 03:19 PM

Lots of detailed work! I bet it feels good to finally be “bringing it home”. Kinda sad that the leaves (typically) will be kept in a closet and only brought out for a few days every year. This table will ‘pop’ once that finish gets applied. I assume you are going to spray? (I know, wait and see 8^)

View Northwest29's profile


1712 posts in 3729 days

#6 posted 08-22-2017 04:52 PM

Simply beautiful and excellent craftsmanship. Well done.

-- Ron, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View EarlS's profile


4748 posts in 3587 days

#7 posted 08-22-2017 05:15 PM

It keeps looking better with every post. Did you make runners or supports for the leaves when the table is fully open? Also, how are the leaves being held together? I know our dining table has clasps that pull the sections tightly together. I can’t recall seeing any details of the bottom side of the table. I’ll be looking back through the series to see if I missed those details.

I found the slides – guess I didn’t read the opening lines and look at the first picture close enough on Part #20. Did I miss the clasps too?

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View TungOil's profile


1384 posts in 1734 days

#8 posted 08-22-2017 05:50 PM

Thanks for the kind words all, much appreciated!

Splinter- leave storage will be the subject of a future project….won’t be the closet….stay tuned. Stain and Finishing is up next, still undecided on what system to use for the topcoat. Based on my stain samples, you are correct- the pommelle really pops with some stain.

Earl- yes, I opted for the commercial metal slides to be sure they would be strong enough to handle the 60” additional table length. I would have preferred wooden slides, but in this case function over form. You didn’t miss the keepers, they are not installed yet. I’ll install them as I’m assembling the table up in the dining room after the finishing is complete. They are just some brass keepers from Rockler.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4386 days

#9 posted 08-24-2017 12:09 AM

The table is looking absolutely amazing! Nice to be on the home stretch, huh?!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View PPK's profile


1870 posts in 2048 days

#10 posted 09-08-2017 07:22 PM

“It took nearly a full board foot of ebony to make the splines and plugs for this project, which total up to 142 square plugs, 32 splines and 22 rectangular plugs.”

Ouch… my hardwood store sells Gabon ebony for about $125/bf… If you factored in the price to fabricate those plugs also, you could practically just call ‘em black gold :)

-- Pete

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