Small Modern Table

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Project by Waldo88 posted 11-19-2014 04:24 PM 1447 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This little table is my first real build. I’ve done some refinishing in the past, along with remodeling the house and shop building, but this one is at least what I consider my first build.

I moved into a new (awesome midcentury) house not too long ago, and along with the new house finally came space for a shop. I’ve always wanted to build things, but a lack of tools and a space to work with them has prevented me from doing much of anything to this point. When this project began I still had rather severe tool limitations; I had no way to rip a board or work with rough lumber, as such I was mostly limited to big box store stuff. With the exception of veneering, I have a vacuum press and worked in a veneering shop long ago, that is one task I’ve comfortable with.

The design is inspired by a few Midcentury Modern examples. I tried to improve on them a bit with a more interesting veneer pattern, better table edges, and a more refined leg mounting system. One limitation that I had was that I had no means to shape legs, so the legs had to be purchased (I did finish them though).

The design fit a glaring need in our household. We don’t have or want a true coffee table in our family room; they take away place space, attract messes, are unnecessarily large, and aren’t all that useful. The smaller size of this table makes it sort of a jack of all trades. Its a place to hold sodas and remotes, a place for a pizza, a place to color, a place to hold a laptop, a place to kick the feet up; it can be an end table, a coffee table, a plant stand, etc… Its small size allows it to me moved as needed. For years we’ve been using a cheap Ikea plastic stool for this task, and it was time for an upgrade.

To this point I had only ever done book matching with veneer, this was my first attempt at butt matching. The top is comprised of 6 pieces of walnut veneer. The book matches are pretty much invisible, but the butt match leaves a line down the middle, I think it is just a material limitation moreso than technique, the seam is tight, but veneer variation is enough that the seam shows. That’s ok though. One thing I really wanted out of this pattern was to reprise the look of the ceiling light in the room, the ufo look is really on of the themes for the room and house in general. I figured a butt matching nice walnut cathedrals could get me close.

The top is build on a plywood core that has solid oak stiles tongue and groove jointed all around. The solid oak allows for rounded corners, a routed edge, and durability without any exposed ply. I would have used walnut if that was an option. The bottom is some oak veneer that I had left over from a previous refinishing project. I could have done walnut (and in hindsight should have, I don’t care for how the oak stained).

The legs are mounted at 10.5 degrees in a 45 degree axis. I made the mounts out of oak, using the drill press with a few bits to get the correct angle front an back (where the threaded insert is). The mount is glued into a mortise that I routed into the underside of the table. The legs were ordered from the big box mart and are ash (what arrived is what I got, I couldn’t specify). I may remake the legs in the future; I think the tips on these look cheap.

Finishing-wise, the sides, bottom, and legs are all stained with a walnut gel stain to attempt to reasonably match the color of the top. The top was first finished with Danish oil. After that a light coat of garnet shellac was applied (for the color), then several coats of satin arm-r-seal, twice as many on the top. Finally the finished was buffed with a little beeswax and steel wool.

On thing that was important, which was addressed in design, construction, and finishing, is that this thing needs to be durable. It is not a sit in the corner and look nice table, this thing is going to be heavily used every day and is going to take a beating.

Anyway, I hope you like my first attempt at this woodworking thing. More to come. I really like modern/midcentury modern style and have a lot of furniture/remodeling projects around the house that I’d like to accomplish in the coming years.

4 comments so far

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4279 days

#1 posted 11-20-2014 11:41 AM

Vary nice Project Waldo. Well Executed and a great design! Thanks for sharing!

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View doitforfun's profile


199 posts in 2854 days

#2 posted 11-20-2014 01:51 PM

You nailed the mid century thing right down to period hardware. Nice touch. That table looks great.

-- Brian in Wantagh, NY

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1381 posts in 2960 days

#3 posted 12-12-2014 09:06 PM

Love it! Stylish, well craftedand ‘just right’
Thanks for sharing

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3845 days

#4 posted 12-12-2014 10:11 PM

Nice, looks great. Simple and elegant lines.

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