Two Drawer Table

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Project by Builder_Bob posted 12-11-2010 09:25 PM 2629 views 3 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Forgot to put waxed paper or something between the top and my parallel clamps. The glue oxidizes when in contact with the clamp. This leaves a black spot which can soak into the wood.

Made the cabriole legs from laminated poplar. Two no-nos right there. Soft wood, and laminating. Generally sloppy work in cutting and carving, resulting in lots of wood filler and paint. Butchered the feet which were going to be turned to an elegant shape on the lathe. Chopped all the feet off and turned some little buns on the lathe. Drilled a little cup in them as a socket for the leg. Legs all different diameters, glued the buns on and shot a brad to hold them in place. The brad might scratch the floor, put felt stickies on the feet. More wood filler to smooth off gaps.

Built up the curved drawer fronts from a stack of arcs milled from ¾ inch cherry stock, using a pivoted router. Not as accurate as they should be, required a lot of time at the belt sander. Blew out the toothed drive belt in the sander. $21 to get a new one.

Stacked five arcs for each drawer front. Shot brads into each new layer to hold its position while the glue dried. Amazingly, I did think ahead about the location of the brads to avoid hitting one later on when trimming the arcs to length. I guess I didn’t think enough, as I did hit one or two. I did not forsee the desire to joint the top and bottom of the stacked arcs. I did the bottom, but the top was a minefield of brad heads just below the surface. I decided not to joint the top.

Bought some veneering supplies. Veneer saw, J roller, veneer tape. Only the tape got a spot of use.

Veneered the drawers with bird’s eye maple on the front and birch everywhere else. Used one drawer front as a caul for the other during the veneer glue up. The radius of the curves when clamping like this isn’t exactly the same, but I used thick foam in the clamping process to even up the pressure. Didn’t work. I’ve glued up mahogany veneer before, so I was surprised when the birch and maple veneers immediately soaked up all the water in the glue, swelled up, and wrinkled, especially in the middle where the drying was slower. I’m talking big time wrinkles, sink the Titanic wrinkles. Sickening.

I tried reclamping the center, ironing the dry waves, rewetting and ironing the wet waves, slitting the waves. Eventually, as the days passed, the waves laid down a little bit. These veneers are pretty thick and I could sand down the wave tops a bit. Eventually they met my quality control standard (squinting from 5 feet).

The bird’s eye veneer wasn’t long enough to span the curved front, so I spliced a piece on. Learned a few things about that. Bird’s eye has a wild and dynamic look with all the burls and grain irregularities you would expect. When you butt a piece on, the eye is immediately drawn to the straight line. It would have been nice to cut an irregular line for the splice.

One splice is tight, the other isn’t. Thankfully Elmer’s wood filler is about the same color as bird’s eye.

Bought a $90 piloted Freud router bit to cut the ¼ inch slot for the drawer bottom into the back of the curved front. The bit worked as advertised, cut a great slot, also pulled out great shards of birch veneer from the back, either side of the slot. I guess this problem goes back to the lousy glue job on the veneer. I’m hoping that enough coats of polyurethane will hold everything together.

I attached the drawer sides to the curved front with pocket screws. The sides were cut with a 10 degree slant to match the slope of the curved front. Unfortunately as you tighten the screws the side gets pulled down the slope toward the center of the curve. Had to glue in stop blocks to keep the sides from riding down the slope.

I was hoping that the plugged pocket screw holes would kinda match the poplar sides. No such luck. They look terrible. Maybe I should have just use metal brackets and riveted the pieces together.

I have a bit of experience with finishing so I boldly set forth on my finishing protocol, which is, sand, seal with shellac sealer, sand a bit more, water based dye as desired, light shellac sealer to hold the dye in place, poly coat as desired. I have mostly worked with mahogany and this is a bulletproof schedule for that wood. With the cherry I was fine until the penultimate step (sealer to hold the dye in place). To be extra careful, I sprayed the shellac on so as to leave the dye completely undisturbed. Unfortunately with a closed grain wood like cherry I found that the shellac didn’t flow out flat. It was drawn into drops and “orange peeled” puddles. As the shellac dried it moved the dye, leaving a mottled finish. Think of antiquing “wrinkle” paint. I couldn’t believe it. I saved the top for last. I sprayed a light shellac mist into the air above the top so that it would settle on the wood. It took a while, but that worked pretty good, although there is still a bit of mottling on the top.

Hmmm. Maybe I should make another one.

-- "The unexpected, when it happens, generally happens when you least expect it."

15 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5013 days

#1 posted 12-11-2010 09:44 PM

Nice looking table.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5558 days

#2 posted 12-11-2010 10:00 PM

Bob, you’ve got to sharpen your PR skills. I looked at the photos and was thinking this was an absolute masterpiece by a master woodworker. Then you spent about 500 words trying to convince me otherwise. LOL!

It’s still a beautiful table any way you slice it.

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

View dustinkester's profile


32 posts in 4514 days

#3 posted 12-11-2010 10:28 PM

You are much too hard on yourself Bob, this is a great table! I love the contrasting wood colors.

-- | |

View degoose's profile


7286 posts in 4694 days

#4 posted 12-11-2010 10:33 PM

We are our own worst critics… relax and enjoy the accolades… well deserved.

-- Be safe.

View dustyal's profile


1322 posts in 4815 days

#5 posted 12-11-2010 10:59 PM

First, I’ll say I really like your table. It does look better than your descriptive process would suggest. But as much as I like the table, I really enjoyed reading your descriptive process… error, omissions, commissions. whatever, etc.

Actually, I wish we could get more contributors of “what I did wrong, and what I did to fix it.” I tend to think the better woodworkers are the ones who know how to fix their mistakes. I’m still learning.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View ncdon's profile


220 posts in 4216 days

#6 posted 12-11-2010 11:36 PM

Bob, The table looks like it’s worth $500.00 bucks, the story, priceless. Thanks for sharing both. The table looks great

-- Don, North Carolina, Working full time at retired.

View sras's profile


6520 posts in 4469 days

#7 posted 12-12-2010 03:36 AM

Table looks great! I appreciated the story as well. A big part of woodworking is being able to deal with the unexpected. You have demonstrated that admirably. In the end you have a beautiful table and a great set of stories to go with it. Thanks for sharing!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4917 days

#8 posted 12-12-2010 03:41 AM

Wow Bob
This is a fantastic table with amazing woods.


View dub560's profile


632 posts in 4253 days

#9 posted 12-12-2010 03:47 AM

those legs are too sexy for being wood you here me bob…just too sexy

-- Life is enjoyable especially when you borrow from people

View blackcherry's profile


3349 posts in 5163 days

#10 posted 12-12-2010 03:54 AM

The day you become satisfied is the day to find a new craft…lol nice work my friend…BC

View Loucarb's profile


2388 posts in 4785 days

#11 posted 12-12-2010 04:50 AM

Great wood combination & craftsmanship.

View Gintaras's profile


199 posts in 4261 days

#12 posted 12-12-2010 10:19 AM

very elegant and subtle

-- Gintaras,

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1600 posts in 4592 days

#13 posted 12-12-2010 06:03 PM

Wow looks awesome

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 5432 days

#14 posted 12-13-2010 12:32 PM

The legs make this piece jump right off the page at you. This is just wonderful. Beautifully executed and well worth the effort Bob.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View RobJD's profile


10 posts in 4536 days

#15 posted 12-22-2010 04:59 AM

The table looks GREAT !!!!
You handled it with dignity and poise, I don’t think anyone on LJ CANNOT relate to your story…. I know I can.

Isn’t it insane how a simple little idea can completely drive you insane !!!!!!!!!!

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