Walnut Dining Room Table

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Project by Mark Kornell posted 05-04-2015 01:33 AM 6081 views 20 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was commissioned to build a walnut dining room table for a client. She had some fairly specific requirements which made this a bit of a challenge.

Requirement #1: 8’ long extensible to 10’
Requirement #2: No center divide, extensions must come from the ends
Requirement #3: Extensions must store inside the table
Requirement #4: Use this specific design (hers) for the legs

Needless to say, this took a bit of engineering to come up with a package that worked. First, the legs are only 2” thick. There isn’t enough bearing surface to counter end-to-end racking forces. The solution was to have T-shaped metal brackets fabricated that I mortised and epoxied into the top of the legs. The brackets are bolted into the apron structure

Second, because of the need to have 12” extensions that pull out from each end, the normal position for the legs would interfere with whatever this pull-out mechanism would be.

Third, the extensions needed to fold in half to store inside the table. The client wanted an underbeveled edge, meaning that I could not have a single-piece pull out (or flip-out) extension.

So, I ended up building the apron so the end would pull out, and contain a butterfly leaf assembly. The apron end would also form the support for the butterfly leaf when pulled out, so it could not collapse when in use.

I had prepared an animated GIF to show how it works, but apparently I can only embed JPEGs. So, here’s the sequence:

The edge of the slab is underbeveled, so to carry that around the ends while accommodating the “drawer” I made a removable end cap, held on by magnets.

Easily removable when the extension is needed, it stows to the right side of the apron under the top.

Overall dimensions are 96” x 43 13/16”W x 29 1/2” (LxWxH)

The primary wood is walnut, with hard maple as the secondary wood in the apron structure. The legs are walnut veneered onto beech. I cut the veneers from the same flitch of boards that were used in the rest of the table so I was able to maintain consistent color and grain.

Because of the grain orientation of the butterfly leafs, I also used shop-sawn veneer on baltic birch plywood to ensure they remained stable.

The finish is Varathane Nano-Defence, satin sheen.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

24 comments so far

View CL810's profile


4178 posts in 4236 days

#1 posted 05-04-2015 02:24 AM

Beautiful and ingenious Mark. I’m sure the client was very happy.

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

View SuperCubber's profile


1205 posts in 3533 days

#2 posted 05-04-2015 02:27 AM

Wow! That is one heck of a good idea! Great ingenuity! I’d like to say that I may copy that idea some day, but I don’t think I’m capable! :)

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC

View johnstoneb's profile


3182 posts in 3421 days

#3 posted 05-04-2015 02:43 AM

Beautiful table

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View CFrye's profile


11362 posts in 3088 days

#4 posted 05-04-2015 03:13 AM

I understand the beautiful end result, Mark. Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View JADobson's profile


1449 posts in 3359 days

#5 posted 05-04-2015 03:14 AM

This is brilliant. I’m very slowly working on my own kitchen table and I think this leaf system may be incorporated in if you don’t mind. Well done!

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View RoadHogg's profile


130 posts in 3175 days

#6 posted 05-04-2015 03:25 AM

Wow! Now that’s some engineering work right there! Nicely executed, Mark.

-- "The difference between school and real life is that in real life the tests come first, and then the lessons" -- Robert Lang,

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1171 posts in 3779 days

#7 posted 05-04-2015 06:32 AM

Thank you for the comments!

James, feel free to copy. It’s kinda flattering :-) And ask questions if the pics aren’t clear – it was a brainteaser to figure out. Fine Woodworking has an article by Michael Fortune a couple.years ago on the butterfly leaf concept which was very helpful. Adapting that to a pull-out extension was a manageable step.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1171 posts in 3779 days

#8 posted 05-04-2015 06:46 AM

I had a question via PM on the finish, so I’ll share some more info here.

The Varathane Nano-Defence is meant for flooring application. Meaning, it should be tough and durable. I did a couple of test pieces and it seems to be tougher and more scratch resistant than polyurethane.

It is fairly thin, more so than lacquer or poly. But it takes about the same amount of time to flash as does water based polys. This means a propensity to runs and/or sags when applying vertically.

When brushing, it flows out well, but not well enough to make a production surface. So my approach was to brush on two.coats, sand at 220, spray two coats, sand at 320, and then spray a final coat.

And when spraying, it is a very fine line between too much (runs/sags) and too little (dry spray). I ended up having to spray the top flat in order to get enough on without running.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3117 days

#9 posted 05-04-2015 12:01 PM

Yet another masterpiece, Mark. Love your work!

She needs to commission a new set of chairs to match. :-)

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View JayT's profile


6434 posts in 3459 days

#10 posted 05-04-2015 12:48 PM

Masterfully done, Mark. You definitely earned your paycheck.

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

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4115 days

#11 posted 05-04-2015 01:00 PM

Mark, you really did a fine job on this table.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3592 days

#12 posted 05-04-2015 01:45 PM

nice table

View EvilNuff's profile


60 posts in 3876 days

#13 posted 05-04-2015 01:50 PM

Love the leaf design, any chance you have more pictures of how it works? Thanks for sharing!

View tpmwoodworker's profile


19 posts in 2451 days

#14 posted 05-04-2015 02:21 PM

Really nice. I love the hinge work on the extension. Really inspired.

-- Newcomer to Woodworking, Looking to Learn More

View pintodeluxe's profile


6489 posts in 4061 days

#15 posted 05-04-2015 03:51 PM

Great use of butterfly leaves, I don’t think I have ever seen those on the end of a table.
Beautiful piece!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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