Chestnut Side Table

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Project by Sunstealer73 posted 07-21-2014 03:33 AM 1963 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a side table that I made out of some old chestnut barn wood. This barn was on my family’s property and torn down several years ago when the land was sold to a developer. My dad sawed off several of the nicest boards before it was torn down. I wish we had gotten them all. The wood is chestnut and was sawed prior to the blight hitting the area. The barn did use steel nails though, so I am estimating the construction at around 1900. Some of the boards were 16” wide, very straight and clear. The last picture shows some of the cutoffs prior to planing. The cutoffs will be used for some picture frames to ensure I get as much use as possible out of this wood.

This is only my second time doing mortise and tenon joinery. The first was the toy box in my projects. I used a dado stack instead of tenon jig and was much happier with that technique. Since there were no boards thicker than about 13/16”, I had to face glue the pieces for the legs. The board I used for the top had a bad split, but the split was completely straight. I ripped directly through the split on the table saw and then glued it back up.

For finish, I used three coats of shellac, sanded with 320, and then a single coat of Sherwin Williams alkyd satin oil varnish. It looks great and lets the beauty of the weathered wood shine through. The stripe across the top was caused by the z-shaped batten since that board was part of a door. I left it along with all the nail holes and imperfections.

10 comments so far

View CL810's profile


4039 posts in 3760 days

#1 posted 07-21-2014 10:28 AM

Well done. Nice to have a connection to the wood.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View Ocelot's profile


2536 posts in 3410 days

#2 posted 07-21-2014 02:16 PM

Very nice memory piece.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3639 days

#3 posted 07-21-2014 04:21 PM

That’s a very nice table and you did a fine job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8574 posts in 2754 days

#4 posted 07-21-2014 06:51 PM

Sweet. For not having a lot of experience, you did a great job with grain selection and other aspects.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2666 days

#5 posted 07-21-2014 07:52 PM

Great job and great save. I like hearing stories of old torn down things getting back in circulation.

View Billy E's profile

Billy E

162 posts in 2852 days

#6 posted 07-21-2014 09:01 PM

I like this. Nice and clean. I’m planning something similar when I get a chance. How do you like working with the SW varnish? Any idea how scratch resistant it will end up being?

-- Billy, Florence SC

View Hammerthumb's profile


3055 posts in 2747 days

#7 posted 07-21-2014 10:20 PM

Very nice table. Never had the opportunity to work with chestnut, but would like to some day.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View Ottacat's profile


517 posts in 2624 days

#8 posted 07-21-2014 10:58 PM

Beautifully looking table, the chestnut is gorgeous.

View Sunstealer73's profile


192 posts in 2865 days

#9 posted 07-21-2014 11:07 PM

The chestnut is so easy to work. I really regret that it is basically gone now. I could push it through my tablesaw as fast as I wanted, much easier to cut than oak, maple, even pine. The American Chestnut Foundation is about 10 miles from me, I think they are beginning to make some progress in their cross-breeding program.

View Sunstealer73's profile


192 posts in 2865 days

#10 posted 07-24-2014 08:39 PM

The SW varnish worked pretty well. It is really thick and viscous, much thicker than the poly that I normally use. It went on smoothly with a foam brush and was dry to the touch in just a few minutes. I had to tip each surface off pretty quickly before it dried too much. It had the perfect satin sheen for just one coat.

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