Ambrosia maple table

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Project by 502flier posted 03-28-2021 07:19 PM 865 views 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Man, this table was an undertaking. I was asked to design and build a farmhouse table with 2 leaves. Fully open, it’s 48” x 10’. I decided on Ambrosia (wormy) maple because it was one of the least expensive materials available at $7.95/bf. Even fir is over $11 right now. Where I live, pine or cedar are much more readily available, but I don’t particularly like them for tables because they’re so soft. I built a cedar strip table about 10 years ago and it lives in my wife’s craft room. Every note we’ve ever written on it is embedded in the surface.
I couldn’t get 6×6 for the legs, so I used 2” x 6” boards and dovetailed them together. Pins and plugs are all walnut for contrast.
Finishing was 5 coats of Danish oil, 5 coats of gloss waterborne urethane, 1 coat of satin waterborne urethane to finish.
I’m just a home hobbyist, not a furniture builder, so please keep the criticisms cordial. Thanks.

Oh, and most of you will be well aware, but for those that haven’t worked much with maple – it does not take stain well. I was going to stain this thing originally in a kind of Puritan pine for a bit of weathered look, but it was so blotchy I couldn’t stand it. (I tested on the underside first).

-- Kevin - Keep the shiny side up

15 comments so far

View 987Ron's profile


1027 posts in 391 days

#1 posted 03-28-2021 07:31 PM

Really nice table and benches. Yes I can see that it is a lot of work in it. Nice work. Like the mix of the maple and walnut.

-- Ron

View MrWolfe's profile


1545 posts in 1198 days

#2 posted 03-28-2021 07:32 PM

Excellent design and build!
So much to like about this table, so many features and even the wood and finish.
I really like your solution with the dovetailed legs. Rather than conceal it, you’ve turned it into a beautiful and unique feature.

View mtnwild's profile


4047 posts in 4602 days

#3 posted 03-28-2021 07:47 PM

You have the skills…Great looking table, well made!

Love your solution on the legs, great detail. Good looking wood, all around beautiful…Fantastic project…

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View grovemadman's profile


961 posts in 4847 days

#4 posted 03-28-2021 07:54 PM

Nice work!!! Maple is finicky about finishes. I just found that out on my bench top recently. I didn’t freak out because it is a bench top. Excellent workmanship!!

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View Eric's profile


1352 posts in 948 days

#5 posted 03-28-2021 08:47 PM

Beautiful craftsmanship in the build, a lot if detail on it. Great job

-- Eric, building the dream

View controlfreak's profile


2056 posts in 676 days

#6 posted 03-28-2021 09:49 PM

I love it, it is fascinating to look at. Well done!

View Eeyore's profile


111 posts in 291 days

#7 posted 03-28-2021 11:48 PM

I love the curved braces. Very graceful and they exude stability. I also think the color is wonderful as-is.

-- Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans

View 502flier's profile


61 posts in 3352 days

#8 posted 03-29-2021 12:09 AM

Thanks for the comments! It’s always a learning process.

-- Kevin - Keep the shiny side up

View Pappyles's profile


12 posts in 57 days

#9 posted 03-29-2021 12:52 AM


-- Les, Pa.

View BB1's profile


2127 posts in 1923 days

#10 posted 03-29-2021 02:27 AM

Love it. Like the no-stain look!

View swirt's profile


6179 posts in 4047 days

#11 posted 03-29-2021 03:04 AM

Outstanding work. I like the design and joinery. Great looking results and a table to make many smiles.

-- Galootish log blog,

View gdaveg's profile


124 posts in 277 days

#12 posted 03-29-2021 03:17 AM

Love the build. I agree, maple is tough to stain, I tried to seal first with a 50% cut on unwaxed shellac, stain would not penetrate.

Great job on the details. Makes the table unique.


-- Dave, Vancouver, WA & Tucson, AZ

View Tom's profile


263 posts in 967 days

#13 posted 03-29-2021 12:06 PM

A lot of visual interest there. Very creative. Nice work.

-- Tom

View 502flier's profile


61 posts in 3352 days

#14 posted 03-29-2021 02:22 PM

Dave – I did the same – tested 1 and 2 coats of sealant, no sealant – just couldn’t get a consistent look. The reason for the waterborne urethane was because it’s a young family with incredibly active (that’s what we’ll call them) kids. I wanted something durable and apparently waterborne will cure harder than solvent-based urethane. I expected more buildup of product and was pleasantly surprised at how nicely the urethane finished. I tried a very expensive, borrowed HVLP sprayer, but it had too small a tip and the product wouldn’t feed. I bought a homeright all-in-one sprayer from Lee Valley for $129 and it actually worked pretty well. I tested brushing the urethane too, and didn’t like the brush marks. Lots of mucking around on this project, but the end result was pleasing (to me, anyway).
Something else I learned was that I should have initially filled the worm holes with epoxy before sanding out the surface. Maybe not necessary with solvent-based urethane (I don’t know), but the waterborne was a nightmare – it left these weird moon craters around the holes and required heavy sanding and re-finishing. Not good.
Just some things about what I learned.

-- Kevin - Keep the shiny side up

View dpfunk78's profile


7 posts in 1374 days

#15 posted 03-29-2021 02:55 PM

Beautiful work. Well done.

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