'Wedged' Black Walnut Coffee Table

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Project by zombeerose posted 01-11-2007 10:14 PM 3058 views 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was my second major piece of furniture for which I learned a great deal about the expansion/contraction properties of wood. While I have grown to understand the reasonings behind using veneer, I have a tremendous preference towards solid wood.

Therefore, in order to allow for full movement, I designed this piece accordingly. I chose not to use the standard approach of breadboard ends because A) I don’t like visible end-grain, and B) I wanted to try a new approach. With that in mind, the two sides that run parallel to the grain of the walnut section are cut at about 60 degrees to form a wedge with the wider portion on top. The spalted border was cut with matching angles. The concept, or hope, was essentially that as the piece expands, it will protrude slightly above the spalted border without stressing the splined miters. This has proven to work out quite well over the year+ it has been in use. The only drawback was that if pressure was applied to one side of the wedge, the walnut center would pivot out of the frame. I had to install a supports under the corners to minimize this.

This coffee table is constructed primarily of black walnut, spalted pecan, and maple for the internal supports. Ebony has been used for the drawer handles while a thin strip of walnut was ebonized for highlighting between the pecan and walnut top. The 2 drawer faces were carefully cut out of the apron with a scroll saw to provide grain continuation across both sides. The piece was finished with about 6 coats Waterlox original and paste wax.

Completed 11-05

-- Maximize - Your Time, Your Experiencies, Your Life, Yourself!

5 comments so far

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5259 days

#1 posted 01-12-2007 01:44 PM

Zee, this is a lovely looking table. I admire your design flair.

However, I must confess to being a little curious about your approach to wood movement due to humidity variations.

Your explanation sounds to me like you are devising your own methodology to address this issue. I’m not suggesting this is wrong, particularly if you do come up with new previously untried approaches. I guess my curiosity is that I wonder why you aren’t using traditional methodology to address this issue.

Have I read your description incorrectly? Would you elaborate in more detail on this?

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View zombeerose's profile


88 posts in 5237 days

#2 posted 03-07-2007 04:56 PM

While I understand the opportunities that veneer can afford a design, I am at a point that I am focused on using solid wood for nearly everything. Therefore, the design had to be a little different in order to allow a solid center.

Thx Don :)

-- Maximize - Your Time, Your Experiencies, Your Life, Yourself!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5242 days

#3 posted 03-07-2007 05:51 PM

I remember seeing this before. I must have been in a hurry, as I didn’t comment then.

1. To me, this has a combination look of rustic and elegance. Love it !!
2. The drawer surprised me and definitely takes this piece to a new level.

Have you made matching end tables as well?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View zombeerose's profile


88 posts in 5237 days

#4 posted 03-07-2007 06:11 PM

Thanks Debbie. While I don’t have plans for end tables because our living room really doesn’t have the space, I do intend on making a matching kitchen table some day. I’m not sure whether I will stick with the same “floating wedge” design however. I’ve seen and thought of a few other interesting approaches since I made this piece.

-- Maximize - Your Time, Your Experiencies, Your Life, Yourself!

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5243 days

#5 posted 03-07-2007 06:17 PM

I like the look of the table, and the drawers are a nice touch as well.

Very creative on your design to handle wood movement. Nice to hear it has held up so far.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

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