Arts & Crafts Entry Table; Burled Oak Display, Mission Style Inspired, with Handcarved Oak Leaves

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 12-03-2007 09:20 PM 15753 views 14 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch


This piece is “not for sale”, but I could build you something similar, but it will be a good sized investment.

The wood is Quartersawn White Oak, the stain is Minwax Provincial, the finish is Deft Satin Lacquer.

Dimensions? That’s my secret.

Email me at: [email protected]

for more information.

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Project Story:

I hadn’t completed any “Arts & Crafts” style work for quite some time, so it seemed like a good time to finish up this table. I started it a couple of years ago, working in my spare time, while waiting for glue to dry, or finish to cure out, or other breaks in my commissioned work.

I had one greatly figured piece of Quartersawn White Oak with a flame burl that ran about 40” in length left over after building my Refined Rustic China Hutch.

I realized when I discovered that one board in the pile, that I could do something special with it. So, I saved it for myself (sssh!), and decided to design a table around using that one wonderful board. I dug through about 3,000 bdft of wood looking for the mates to it, but someone else must have gotten them. I even went back again to search, but no luck. Ok, just make do with one board somehow. “I’ll come up with some idea at some point,” I told myself.

Then, one day, the table top idea hit me. Ok, now to develop a table to fit it. Hmmm? Not long enough for a sofa table, to narrow for a coffee table. Ok, an entry table will work. To use the figured wood, I resawed the board, bookmatched the grain, and made a table top. Believe, my bad photos from a cheap digital camera don’t do it justice for sure. Only God could make a board as pretty as that.

This table sat in my shop for about 12 months in pieces. I was stuck. Sure, I had a great board for the top, and the basic shape and the joinery all finished, but it just wasn’t something special. It was too much like other tables I have seen in books. So, I put the pieces up in the attic, until I had an inspiration.

As the months passed, I worked on other projects for customers, and just kept sketching ideas for this table every once in awhile. Still, nothing would pop out.

Then, this past Fall, Bari Garst, a local Interior Designer asked me to build a walnut bookshelf with carved oak leaves across the top, similar to what she had seen in my brochure of other Arts & Crafts work I have built.

I have carved quite a few leaves, but never in a fashion where the leaf edges formed the visual edge of the board. I’ve always carved them in the framework of a panel, in a raised relief styling.

Since Ms. Garst needed a sample carving board to show her clients, I tried this new concept to me in the carving sample, and mailed it off, and waited.

I liked the idea of the “positive vs. negative” space that the leaves give the eye when hanging off the board. Carving the leaves so that about an inch of the leaf edge hung over the edge of the board, made it a little more difficult, but that concept was something I really liked. Maybe something original?

The client liked the carving, but actually decided not to put my work in the basement spare bedroom to hold old Romance novels, and so the Walnut Bookcase project died. I am told it will be resurrected, but it in a bigger form, by converting the carving idea into larger Dining Room glass front cabinet for storing a large collection of table settings, sometime after the first of the year. I’ll give more details in my blog someday as that project takes bloom.

So, a few weeks ago, I dug out the parts for this little Entry Table from the shop attic, and started putting it together, with the idea of adding the carved leaves on the ends, and across the front.

the carved leaves are each a set of 3 leaves grouped together, and attached to the furniture structure by small tenons. I just cut the tenons out first, then cut out the shape of the leaves on the bandsaw, and then used a router and dremel set, and whittling tools to finish up the leaf clusters. The Leaves on the front of the cabinet also act like gussets, adding structural strength. All of the project construction is by mortise and tenon.

Voilà (pronounced “wallah”), I was happy, and finished up the table a few weeks ago while waiting for approvals on the steak knife project I posted last week

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If you like carved and ornamented Artisan-Built Arts & Crafts work, here are some other projects I have posted:

  1. Sectioned Entertainment Center
  2. Orchid Stand/Wine Storage
  3. End Tables
  4. Coffee Table
  5. Table Lamps
  6. Prairie Couch
  7. Morris Chairs & Ottomans

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Want to See More of my Furniture Work?:
If you go to my Mark DeCou Website you will find that I have not updated my website in quite some time. I realize that I need to invest in improving my website, but until that is accomplished, here are some more Lumberjocks related lilnks with updated postings of my furniture work, sorted into categories. Thanks for your interest in my work, and your patience with my website.

Arts and Crafts, Mission Style Related Projects:
  1. Arts & Crafts Entry Table; with Carved Oak Leaves
  2. Arts & Crafts Orchid Stand w/ Wine Bottle Storage
  3. Arts & Crafts Style Morris Inspired Chairs
  4. Arts & Crafts Display Top Coffee Table
  5. Arts & Crafts Style Inspired End Table Set
  6. Arts & Crafts Style Inspired Prairie Couch
  7. Table Lamps
  8. Arts & Crafts Carved Entertainment Center
  9. Mission Entertainment Center
Church & Worship-Art Related Projects:
  1. Carved Communion Table
  2. Carved Roll Top Sound Equipment Cabinet
  3. Fancy Chuch Altars
  4. Processional Cross
  5. Fancy Speaker's Lectern
  6. Church Hymn Number Board
  7. Communion Chalice (Cup) and Paten
Art-Furniture Related Projects:
  1. Sam Maloof Inspired Walnut Rocker
  2. Original Art Carved Tilt Front Desk, inspired by Birger Sandzen
  3. Natural Edge; Nakashima Inspired Coffee Table
  4. Decoratively Painted Box End Tables
  5. Birch China Cabinet for Cut Glass Collection
Rustic, Western, Cedar Log, and Cowboy Related Projects:
  1. Naughty (Knotty) Refined Rustic White Oak & Black Walnut China Hutch
  2. A Kansa Indian and Buffalo Accent Art-Chair
  3. Refined Rustic Dining Chairs
  4. Refined Rustic Dining Table
  5. Cowboy-Western Style Suitcase/Luggage Support Racks
  6. Fun With Cedar Logs #1; Sitting Stool
  7. Fun With Cedar Logs #2; Coat/Hat/Spur Rack
  8. Fun With Cedar Logs #3; Western Style Hat/Coat Rack
  9. Fun With Cedar Logs #4; Entryway Stool
Outdoor Furniture Related:
  1. Kennebunkport Style Adirondack Chair
  2. Outdoor Garden Wedding Arbor
  3. Outdoor Project: Cedar Wood Double Settee

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Still Want to See more of my work?

Start with each of these links, and they will take you to other organized lists of my other niche products:

  1. Custom Knives
  2. Custom Walking Canes and Walking Sticks
  3. Artisan Hat Making Tools

(Note: this writing, photos, and project design is protected by copyright by M.A. DeCou 12-3-2007 & 12-31-2007. Go dream up your own ideas.) – sorry, I’m getting frustrated, there’s just too many Chinese and North Carolina hits on my website, makes me nervous.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

32 comments so far

View TomFran's profile


2964 posts in 4966 days

#1 posted 12-03-2007 09:25 PM

Mark, This is beautiful! I love it. Great piece.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5132 days

#2 posted 12-03-2007 09:26 PM

all good things come to he who waits…. and the perfect timing to finish the table was now – when the right inspiration guided your plan.
Although I am not surprised, I am in awe at the craftsmanship and the beauty of your carvings.

The little history lesson was enjoyable as well!

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5190 days

#3 posted 12-03-2007 09:27 PM

another wonderful piece, Mark. I love the grain on the top.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4911 days

#4 posted 12-03-2007 10:44 PM

A very beautiful table, what more is there to say other than thanks for the history lesson (which was as good as the table).

-- Working at Woodworking

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 4884 days

#5 posted 12-03-2007 11:01 PM


Wonderful and inspiring work! The design is as interesting as the wood is beautiful.

I really like the ornamentation that you do on your Arts & Crafts pieces with the carving. Would you be willing to elaborate on how you carved the leaves? Did you do them before or after they were joined to the table?

Great Stickley history lesson as well!

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 4963 days

#6 posted 12-03-2007 11:13 PM

What is in North Carolina Mark?

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5377 days

#7 posted 12-03-2007 11:17 PM

Mazzo: I added a little more detail to the story on the leaf construction. Also, the methodology I use to do the carving was laid out in my blog on the Desk Chair (still haven’t posted it as a project yet), and also in the Desk Project. I laid out the tools and steps in those blogs. If I get time someday, I’ll write up another methodology blog with the leaves from this project, as I did take a bunch of step-by-step photos. I need to get back to work today.

Desk Front:

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5377 days

#8 posted 12-03-2007 11:19 PM

good point Damian. Still, I get quite a few hits on the website where folks have sorted through all of my furniture postings from “High Point.” Maybe it’s just folks trying to find a job these days.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Karson's profile


35269 posts in 5372 days

#9 posted 12-03-2007 11:26 PM

Great table mark. A beautiful job. And your daughter looks very happy.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View gizmodyne's profile


1785 posts in 5062 days

#10 posted 12-03-2007 11:31 PM

Work piece = Interesting. Love the top and the through tenons.

Treatise= Fascinating.

I think besides the “handmade” (true or not) that simplicity, proportions, is what attracts people to Stickley. Good design and utilitatian function goes along way. Don’t you think?

I live in an “Arts and Crafts” neighborhood, people find the houses small, unasuming, and charming. I think the same is true about the furniture.

Though, and I agree with you here, ceratain clientele will be interested in the idea of working with an artist/ artisan/ craftsman. They are just not enraptured with paying for it.

Keep up the outstanding work!

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View David's profile


1969 posts in 5111 days

#11 posted 12-04-2007 12:38 AM

Mark -

Always a pleasure reading your posts and seeing your latest project. This is an absolutely beautiful piece. I like the scale, lines and finish. The carvings without a doubt add a unique signature. I love the top. What a wonderful piece of timber . . . a diamond in the rough brought to life. I couldn’t help but wonder, had the board been thicker, how the top would have looked with a quarter match and the flame burl centered gracefully reaching to the ends of the table.


View Napaman's profile


5533 posts in 5049 days

#12 posted 12-04-2007 01:42 AM

I didnt read the whole post…(still at school—taking a break with the kids gone…phew) but I read enough to think…”man mark decou knows how to use scrap wood!”

Beautiful work…as always!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4977 days

#13 posted 12-04-2007 01:52 AM

Very nice table indeed. Outstanding work.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5377 days

#14 posted 12-04-2007 02:22 AM

John: I agree with you. I’m not arguing with you in any way. Probably more likely supporting what you are saying, just using more words. I just read about how someone is upset that the comments they received aren’t longer. It is sort of like the old mail phrase, “if you want letters, you have to send letters.”

And, I was tired of writing this afternoon, since things in the shop were calling, so I cut short my treatise, or diatribe. My wife is finishing up dinner, so I’ll continue until she calls for help with setting the table.

There are several reasons that people collect furniture. Having someone else think it is valuable is a big part of the Stickley craze, if not the most important aspect. To prove my point, why would anyone pay the price of an antique Stickley that needs to be reglued, when they can buy a new Bassett for a tenth of the price?

It is because there is a perception of value that people like others to know about.

“Oh, you have a Stickley?” “Oh yes, of course, hubby and I have been collecting them during each trip to Santa Fe from a little quaint store that only sells….....they aren’t cheap, but we just love it…...those lines, that man, it was all hand made you, know?” “Oh, I had no idea it was all hand made, wow, can I sit in it?” “No, I’m sorry, we don’t use it, it might break.”

Another example to support my opinion; the people that own my Maloof-Rocker had a guest show up a month ago, and noticed the rocking chair, and just got real excited, “You have a Maloof!”

“No, it is a DeCou.” And the world yawns. Sam’s work is beautiful, but copied, it is just a copy, regardless of how hard it is to copy. I can say that, cause I copied it. Sure, I threw a little originality in at the last minute, the only part of the chair I don’t like now, but a knock-off is a knock-off, and will never be worth what the original signature is worth…....despite the fact that the lines of the style may be copied, or at least resembling.

So, back to Stickley’s collectibility. Is it just because the lines are simple? I like the lines of Craftsman pieces, but it isn’t just the style that I like. There are many simple forms of furniture, Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware are full of pieces now with opaque finishes to cover the grain of Asian wood, and simple lines. Makes for a nice contrasting colored home. I actually like it. I like Shaker also. Actually, it is pretty hard to define what I like. I like Charles Rolfs’ work the best from the historic A&C era. But, there are new artisans today that are creating collectible pieces. Dan’s hand made tiles in cool looking frames are a real gem. I predict he will have great success with that item, wish I had thought of it first. So, “liking it” is important, but there is more to it.

I have found that people who buy from me are not the type to pick out something just because they like it. Liking it is a requirement, but not the top priority. They seem to be more interested in the “story” of how it was made, and sharing that story with others. The impression that friends get about them, when they talk about the strange guy that lives in hills making things, and they collect it. We live in a culture with enough extra income that quite a few of us can be supported on the gravy of the moment. History has a way of repeating itself, and so I realize that everything will change, and recycle. I just hope to survive on the upside of things, with a back-up plan for the downhill side.

So, I think the “story” is pretty important. People want to know the person behind the art. I recently saw a catalog where everything was imported. Yawn, I thought. But, as I started to look through it, they had smartly posted photos of people in that country of origin that supposedly make the things in the catalog. A little snipet with a name, a face, and paragraph story. Suddenly, I started to like it all. Why? Because there was a face associated with it, a story behind the work, not just a large steel framed building with a big sign in the yard, and a corporate owner on vacation somewhere.

I first stumbled onto this concept when I was asking a retailer about why he was able to sell so many of my walking canes. I was expecting him to tell me it was a certain wood, or certain ergonomic look, or the price, or something I had some control of changing to make them sell even faster. I was into a “manufacturing mindset” with my canes at that time.

What he said is that he didn’t know if he would have sold any of them without the “story” behind who makes them. That sort of struck me strange for several months, and then I started listening to what other folks were telling me. It has been a few years now, and I am finding that the “story” sells the stuff, as much as the stuff sells the stuff. Ok, so cancel the “manufacturing plans” and I started carving the canes more and more. For the past couple of years, hardly any of my old manufactured looking canes sell, but rather the carved ones, the story sticks, eventhough they are more than 2-4 times more expensive. But here is the most important part for an artisan, “I like making them better.” So, more heart, less mind, and no repetition, each one is different. So, there are fewer pieces, at a higher price, means a happier artist, and more inspired work.

There have been times that people have just dreamed up a functional need to have me make something, even though they didn’t need the item, really. They already had the item, they just wanted a different that I could make for them. Make sense?

Believe me, I’m not trying to blow my horn, I’m a nobody, and may always be, but the point I’m trying to help others grasp is that “they” are the valuable part of their work. There isn’t any misconception of my self-importance in this world, and when there is a misconception, I live with “lady-reality” who sets me straight quickly. And, I appreciate that about her, if not at the moment, a little later, when my cheeks aren’t flushed.

So, sure the quality has to be there, the wood has to be nice, the style has to be pleasing, the function has to have a purpose, but before someone will cut loose with the money it takes to keep a full time artisan working in this country for the number of hours it takes to build something one piece at a time, there is a “story” and an anticipation of a future return on the investment. Not in their lifetime, but in the lives of their kids and grandkids that will inherit the piece. Few artisans have lived long enough to realize the financial success of their art. And, even if they did, we are born, and leave this world the same way, “naked, and then the judgment.” That is the ultimate leveling bar.

One of my favorite magazines is American Bungalow. I liked it so much, I decided to support it by placing an ad for my work during the Summer 2006 and Winter 2006 issues. Ok, Ok, I thought it might sell something for me. It didn’t and so I have moved on. I love that magazines pictures. Their articles aren’t that great, but the photos just melt you. That style, the peacefulness of an A&C home, is just warming to me. Not only that, but I have found that people who like A&C work, just love art, and love artists, and have the coolest and unique approaches to life. The style appeals to the lifestyle, not the other way around. Stickley’s articles tried to make it swap around, creating a buying urge, but ultimately, the style is defined by how someone wants to live, and how they want to be seen living.

WOW: Martin’s feature to autosave comments before they are posted just saved me about a half hour of typing. Thanks again Martin! Ugh, I hate dialup.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5377 days

#15 posted 12-04-2007 03:14 AM

David, you wouldn’t believe how sick I was when I discovered that narrow board, and that grain. Oh, yea, you would believe.

Why hadn’t it been cut so that it was the full width of the log at the moment? Ugh. But, I had to make do.

I’m on the look-out for pieces like this now, and it is why I prefer to always buy my wood rough in 8/4, full log width if I can get it that way. Takes a lot of cash though, something that is hard to come up with most of the time.

Crap, who as the quirkiness to dig through a big pile of dusty walnut in an old drafty barn in the cold, just looking for the right knot hole for a knife box? “Hmm, that one might work….no, it won’t.” “Hey, that one might be the ticket, no, the sap wood is spunky already.”

On and on I dug, until I found just the right knot. Now, who would be that weird? Only one hand raised, I bet. But, I’ve already told that story.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

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