"Queen Anne" Coffee Table - Sapele

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Project by MulliganWoodworking posted 09-11-2019 04:44 PM 307 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m calling this a “Queen Anne” table pretty much just because of the legs: I think it makes it sound a lot fancier! A friend of mine wanted a smallish coffee table (42 inches long, 26 inches wide, 16 inches tall), and they really wanted me to make it for them.

It’s all sapele, which I LOVE. It’s dense, tough, and beautiful. I also recommended a tung oil “friction finish”, because they already have one toddler and a newborn (or will soon). In my experience, the friction sealing makes a piece essentially liquid-proof, handles heat (like coffee mugs) a lot better than poly, and – most importantly – handles damage a lot better as well. In a highly polished polyurethane finish, a ding (such as might be caused by a toy car) or a scratch (like a toddler dragging car keys along it) stands out quite a bit as clear, obvious damage. However, in a piece finished with tung oil (like our own coffee table), the table seems to incorporate the damage into the overall look. Damage is much less obvious, and much less of a flaw that needs to be fixed.

This project had quite a few firsts for me, and the biggest was definitely the cabriole legs. I didn’t have a bandsaw, and so I knew I would be doing quite a lot of chisel work, but honestly the legs came together a lot quicker and easier than I anticipated. The first leg, I pretty much made according to a Popular Woodworking article about making them by hand: Basically using long cuts from a hand-saw to remove most of the material, before going after the rest with a chisel and draw knife (although I didn’t have the draw knife, so it was all chisel work).

It turned out pretty well, but for the other 3 legs, I thought I could do a little better. I used my table saw to “outline” the cuts, going at quarter-inch intervals, and it worked spectacularly. It greatly reduced the amount of wood I had to remove with my chisels, and helped me make the legs even more consistent.

This was also my first time making something completely out of sapele, and I hope I’m able to do it again soon! It planes beautifully, and the chatoyance is incredible. The whole table shifts as you walk around it, and I love it.

I also had a lot of fun making my first elliptical jig for my router (thanks Popular Woodworking!). It worked like magic, giving me a perfect oval.

Overall, this project was a LOT easier than I thought it would be. Even with just a few hours a day, it took me about a week and a half while also working on a couple smaller projects (another huge advantage of friction sealing over polished poly!). I hope I’m able to make another one through Etsy soon!

-- Mackenzie Mulligan, trying to get better every day at

8 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23198 posts in 3586 days

#1 posted 09-11-2019 04:52 PM

Excellent table!!!!!!!!

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


184 posts in 28 days

#2 posted 09-11-2019 05:29 PM

I am also a huge fan of sapele, to blanket this wood with a finish like poly is a travesty. Shellac on the otherhand, compliments the wood well and enriches all that superb detail.

To accomplish a feat as you did with the legs, without a bandsaw, is wicked(in a good way).

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: It is wiser to find out, than to suppose (S. Clemens)

View pottz's profile


5978 posts in 1465 days

#3 posted 09-11-2019 06:42 PM

very nice work,i agree on the sapele very rich beautiful wood.without the bandsaw you did a killer job on those legs,excellent craftsmanship.nice work.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View AJ1104's profile


824 posts in 2140 days

#4 posted 09-12-2019 01:01 AM

Gorgeous table. The dimensions and proportions make this stand out. Beautiful finish and craftsmanship. Great job!

-- AJ

View swirt's profile


4144 posts in 3452 days

#5 posted 09-12-2019 01:35 AM

Beautiful work. I like the proportions on the legs.

-- Galootish log blog,

View BurlyBob's profile


6471 posts in 2746 days

#6 posted 09-12-2019 03:08 AM

That is one beautiful piece of craftsmanship. A truly wonderful work.

View Peteybadboy's profile


1015 posts in 2430 days

#7 posted 09-12-2019 06:29 AM

Nicely done!

-- Petey

View therealSteveN's profile (online now)


3629 posts in 1055 days

#8 posted 09-12-2019 06:44 AM

I like it. Kinda looks like an English Bulldog. A distinctive stance.

Nice job.

“I also had a lot of fun making my first elliptical jig for my router (thanks Popular Woodworking!). It worked like magic, giving me a perfect oval.”

Isn’t it wonderful when the short time making a jig, pays such a nice dividend. Plus you still have the jig to use again.

-- Think safe, be safe

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