Nakashima Inspired Conoid Side Table Burl Maple Slab Top with Black Walnut Modern Contemporary Base

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 05-31-2011 09:43 PM 10318 views 8 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just finished this Natural Edged Nakashima Inspired Conoid style base side, coffee, or end table.

Dimensions: 38.5” long x 22” wide, by 18” tall.

This was a commissioned piece, if you would like something similar, start by visiting my Etsy store item


aemail P1060617

The extraordinary wood for the top is a 2” thick Maple Burl slab, with a Kansas black walnut modern contemporary Conoid Inspired base under it.

If you would like something similar, please email me:
[email protected]


aemail P1060593

Project Story:

This Nakashima Inspired Conoid style side table was built for a customer in the Washington D.C. area. He ordered a Sam Maloof Inspired Rocking chair from me last year, and added this Nakashima Inspired Conoid Table.

If you like Nakashima Inspired Furniture, you might also like seeing this End Table Project and this Coffee Table Project

This is my first attempt at the Coniod Base, which I soon discovered wasn’t all that easy to master. I’ve wanted to try this table base ever since I first saw it pictured in Mr. Nakashima’s Book, and I was delighted to get the chance to try it. Since I make my living from my woodshop, I often have lots of ideas that I would like to try out, but don’t get the time while trying to pay bills. Once in awhile, my desires, and a customer’s request will line up, and shibang!

This Conoid base took me about half of a pad of scratch paper, an eraser, quite a bit of pencil lead, two scaled wooden models, and a full size prototype (all of which are headed to the burn pile) before I learned enough to build the base to the right proportion, angle, and with the three point stance perfect for the balance of the top, and leveled in two planes.

I added two walnut dovetail butterflies to the top to secure a long fault line in the burl board, and picked the size and location to best compliment the grain in the top. What I love most about Nakashima work is the use of unique, live edge boards, with all the flaws and bark inclusions, and knot holes, and those subtle butterfly dovetails. In other styles of furniture, we cut around the knots, and rip out the splits, and throw out the spalted sections, and the bug eaten edges are cut off. When I look for a log nowadays, I look for something with lots of bumps and limbs, and twists on the side of the tree, as those “flaws” seem to yield the most unusual pieces of wood. Those “flaws” are sometimes a real pain to work with, so I can understand why furniture factories stay away from such wood.

In my opinion, the genius of the Nakashima work was/is the combination of natural live edges on a base that has an architectural feel to it. It’s like bringing together two cultures that don’t fit, but are bonded together through an arranged marriage. You can’t get that “feel” with log feet on a table like this.

thanks for reading,
Mark DeCou

(note: all photos, text, and project design is protected by copyright 2011 by the Author, M.A. DeCou, all rights reserved, no use in whole, or part without expressed written permission.)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

10 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4583 days

#1 posted 05-31-2011 10:55 PM

fantastic table mark, i love slab did well with the legs, the beauty of the slab is the table and the legs add the elegance that brings the whole project together, i also noticed , it looks like you have a coffin in the makes there…are you selling those as well or is it for your class your doing…as always mark, i love your work…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View FoxMountainWoods's profile


30 posts in 3868 days

#2 posted 06-01-2011 02:21 AM

Looks like quite the balancing act.

-- Scott Hubley - Nova Scotia, Canada -

View glynn's profile


306 posts in 4600 days

#3 posted 06-01-2011 02:53 AM

beautiful piece the beauty of the wood,you nailed it

-- jim nevada

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 4094 days

#4 posted 06-01-2011 03:57 AM

Very nice. Great look.
Hey, did you get the chainsaw mill going?

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5686 days

#5 posted 06-01-2011 04:15 AM

Thanks guys. The casket in the background is indeed my mock-up for the casket making class at the John C. Campbell folk school that I’m teaching.

The tripod balancing act is a real chore, not only with the geometry of the legs, but the uneven density of the burl slab and trying to center it visually and also with the center of gravity, finding a happy medium and missing the natural holes in the top, etc. But after going through the balancing of four legs on two runners for a Maloof rocker, it wasn’t that bad really to do this tripod style base..

I used all mortise and tenon joinery on the legs with two 1/8” dia. wooden pins through each tenon for strength (just thinking ahead about what someone is probably going to ask me about on the base).

The chainsaw mill is in the process of being built still, should finish it this summer, it will have a capacity of 55” at least, if not a little bigger, perfect for cutting up Y-crotch slabs for Nakashima Inspired table tops. I had to take a break on it for a few weeks while I prep for the casket making class.

thanks for the nice comments, back to my casket building.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5681 days

#6 posted 06-01-2011 05:31 AM

Mark; A nice looking tble. Great use of natural materials in the table top.

-- 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 BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4744 days

#7 posted 06-01-2011 04:01 PM

Another home run! Keep running up the score!

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View junipercanyon's profile


198 posts in 3973 days

#8 posted 06-01-2011 07:55 PM

Great looking table Mark. I cut a few 2 1/2” thick live edge slabs with my chainsaw mill this weekend from the root base of a wind blown fallen pine. It had been down for who knows how many years because all but the last 4’ or so of the root end was completely rotten and it had been through a few fires which really added to the “flaws and inclusions” on the live edge you referenced that make for unique pieces. Legs like the ones you have here would be perfect on them. Awesome project, thanks for posting this.

-- Juniper Canyon Design

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6875 posts in 5260 days

#9 posted 06-01-2011 11:36 PM

Another great job, Mark

Beautifu wood.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View BlueStingrayBoots's profile


866 posts in 5282 days

#10 posted 06-03-2011 12:16 PM

Awesome! Feels kool to know your just a few clicks away. What you said Mark, I got exotic slabs too. What kind of finish did you use?

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