Greene & Greene Telephone Table

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Project by Mark Kornell posted 11-11-2014 04:55 AM 5865 views 36 times favorited 43 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have this table as my avatar, and a member asked me for more details. Since I can’t send pics via PM, I decided to post it here.

I intended this table to be faithful to the G&G style, and more specifically, to the Blacker house details. It is not a reproduction – as far as I know, there isn’t such a piece in the Blacker collection. But I did want it to fit right in if it somehow ended up in the Blacker house.

Consciously, I made a handful of small deviations from the “correct” construction. These would preclude it from being recognized as a strictly period piece. I’m OK with that.

Also, I hadn’t seen a real G&G piece in person prior to making this. Subsequently, I’ve visited the Gamble house and the display at the Huntington. I realized I missed on a couple of details that are very hard to figure out from pictures. Those are visible in my pics, see if you can spot the mistakes!

The project was a real learning experience in terms of shaping details. The unadorned form of the table is quite straightforward. The details are what define the style. And with G&G furniture, there are a lot of details. Leg indents. Cloud lift brackets. Protruding finger joints. Reveals. Breadboard ends. Ebony plugs. And more ebony plugs – 72 in all on this piece.

The piece was made from sapele and ebony. Honduran or Cuban mahogany being hard to come by, sapele makes a decent substitute. The drawer bottom was the exception, being a quartersaw cherry board. (This is one of the conscious deviations from style – it is likely that oak would have been used for a drawer bottom.)

The drawer bottom literally glows. It was hard to get a picture that wasn’t totally overexposed.

The construction was pretty straightforward. Aprons are mortised into the legs. Frame and panel dust panels above and below the drawer make for an airtight drawer compartment. Naturally, the drawer is piston-fit :-) The top is held on by screws from below – the screw holes are slotted to allow for movement.

Typical of G&G construction, the brackets and the drawer handle were glued and screwed in place, with ebony plugs covering the screw heads. And a lot of the ebony plugs are decorative in nature. Important aesthetically but not necessary to cover structural elements.

Making the drawer handle was a lot of fun. I excavated a tsuba-shaped indent into the drawer front, and shaped the lifted and arched pull mostly with hand tools.

The finish was to treat the sapele with potassium dichromate, and then two coats of Waterlox. Contrary to what the instructions say, I wiped on/wiped off the Waterlox so the resulting layer of varnish is quite thin.

Before starting the project, I had done my research and created a detailed SketchUp model. Using LayOut, I then developed a full set of plans. Although it took a lot of time, this was quite beneficial in terms of staying on track with the vision. When I was done, I had the idea that I could create a graphic showing the transition from plan to finished piece. That is the graphic I use as my avatar.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

43 comments so far

View iminmyshop's profile


395 posts in 3277 days

#1 posted 11-11-2014 05:11 AM

Wow. Really nice work.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4617 days

#2 posted 11-11-2014 08:58 AM

A very handsome and extremely well build piece. I love the G&G style and I am still amazed at how unique it really is and even though it seems more closely related to Chinese than anything else, it doesn’t evoke a thought of Chinese when you look at it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View recycle1943's profile


5961 posts in 2905 days

#3 posted 11-11-2014 11:30 AM

I have made many, many tables of one sort or another but have yet to achieve the museum quality that is displayed here.
My extreme congradulations on a marvelous piece of furniture.

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

1128 posts in 4715 days

#4 posted 11-11-2014 12:53 PM

Absolutely stunning wood and execution. The Sapele looks to be ribboned, and it makes the piece just POP. This furniture type is very satisfying to make. Not overly difficult if you just practice each nuance a little before playing with the real wood. I thought it interesting that they had no phone table in the actual house, and quite possibly didn’t have phones at the time. Now we have cell phones that don’t need tables.


-- Scott, Irmo SC

View mike1950's profile


364 posts in 3082 days

#5 posted 11-11-2014 01:10 PM

Very nice piece of furniture.

-- "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is."– Albert Einstein

View Ken90712's profile


18081 posts in 4472 days

#6 posted 11-11-2014 01:11 PM

Love it , I live close to the gamble house and go there often. Love G&G. Cool pics ….

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View R_Stad's profile


439 posts in 3126 days

#7 posted 11-11-2014 01:12 PM

Beautiful piece Mark. So many well executed details. Well done.

-- Rod - Oregon

View bondogaposis's profile


6067 posts in 3635 days

#8 posted 11-11-2014 01:18 PM

That’s a wonderful piece, very skilled work.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View JayT's profile


6438 posts in 3494 days

#9 posted 11-11-2014 01:29 PM

Beautifully done, Mark.

I’m not even going to look for the differences between yours and an original Blacker House G&G, as it doesn’t matter. The detail differences are what makes it yours and are definitely not mistakes!

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Phil Clark's profile

Phil Clark

359 posts in 5079 days

#10 posted 11-11-2014 02:04 PM

Very well executed Mark. I particularly like the treatment of the drawer pull.

-- Legacy Woodcraft

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4237 days

#11 posted 11-11-2014 02:25 PM

Lovely table. Nice work indeed, with exquisite detailing. My compliments.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4299 days

#12 posted 11-11-2014 02:25 PM

I like it..wish I had made it :-)

View sras's profile


6426 posts in 4413 days

#13 posted 11-11-2014 02:46 PM

Great job! I like the personal touch in the drawer pull.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3627 days

#14 posted 11-11-2014 03:05 PM

looks great

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3701 days

#15 posted 11-11-2014 03:17 PM

absolutely beautiful work!

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

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