Curly maple nightstands (Shaker pair)

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Project by dtblack posted 03-03-2012 07:17 PM 6199 views 19 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this pair of Shaker inspired nightstands to match a companion lingerie chest. The whole set is employed in a guest bedroom.

The legs, aprons and top are constructed from curly maple. The drawer fronts are birds eye maple, and the drawer sides and backs are crafted from spalted maple (white rot, but no zone lines.) The knobs are curly maple that were purchased from an online vendor.

Finish was water-based aniline dye topped with three light coats of clear satin wiping varnish.

I am nearing the end of a nice pile of curly maple I acquired some time ago from a local sawyer, and the last of the remaining stock will be used for a sofa/side table. I really enjoyed working with figured maple, but am looking forward to getting into a pile of cherry that I have been sitting on! I think my tools (and patience) will appreciate the much needed break from the rigors figured wood presents. . .

19 comments so far

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6773 posts in 3592 days

#1 posted 03-03-2012 07:47 PM

Excellent work! That a great looking finish on that wood.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View dpow's profile


504 posts in 4127 days

#2 posted 03-03-2012 07:58 PM

Worthy project for such beautiful wood. I like the design and really like the color. Thanks for sharing.

-- Doug

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6875 posts in 5263 days

#3 posted 03-03-2012 09:03 PM

That color is fantastic!

You didn’t mention the brand and color dye you used, but I sure would like to know what it is. It is so rich

Great build, too.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Heidi Neely's profile

Heidi Neely

550 posts in 4458 days

#4 posted 03-03-2012 09:38 PM

That grain is just SPECTACULAR! Beautiful work as well. Lucky guests that get to stay and use those :)

-- Heidi :) “The only source of knowledge is experience”

View a1Jim's profile


118296 posts in 4860 days

#5 posted 03-03-2012 09:44 PM

That’s drop dead gorgeous wow wow wow. Fantastic workmanship and finish.


View Lostalos21's profile


35 posts in 3730 days

#6 posted 03-04-2012 02:27 AM

Absolutely Beautiful! I wish I could find someone with a stock pile of curly maple like that. I like how the tapers and beveled top give it a light, airy feel.

-- A Family That Prays Together...Is A Family That Stays Together

View Anapolis7's profile


50 posts in 4201 days

#7 posted 03-04-2012 02:42 AM

Man, it’s a shame that’s in a guest bedroom. These are beautiful.

Did you do anything to highlight the curl in the maple? Just curious, I have a blanket chest I am working out out of curly maple and I have contemplated using charles neal’s trick of dying it black or dark brown first, sanding off the surface color, leaving the dye that got soaked into the end grain of the curl to highlight the figure. Thoughts?

View Billp's profile


804 posts in 5483 days

#8 posted 03-04-2012 06:15 AM

Wow,excellent work I also would like to hear of your finish methods.

-- Billp

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 5106 days

#9 posted 03-04-2012 09:01 AM

My hats off to you. What an exceptional piece this is. The overall look is stunning. I can agree with everyone, that grain just explodes with the first view. I honestly felt something deep, and said “Yes” out loud. What an awesome post.

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View dtblack's profile


12 posts in 3752 days

#10 posted 03-04-2012 11:30 AM

Thanks for all the support and kind words regarding my project! It is a good feeling to get some positive feedback from other wordworkers. There were a couple questions about the finish schedule I used. It broke down like this:

The dye was J.E. Moser brand, W1270 Dark Col. Red Mahogany. It is a water soluble aniline dye. I dissolved 1 oz. of the dye powder per 1 quart water. I first applied plain water to the wood to raise the grain. Let it dry for 24 hours and then sanded the raised grain with 220 grit sandpaper. Then I applied the first coat of dye stain and let it dry for 24 hours. Then I applied the second coat of dye stain. I have found that the second coat of dye really helps to even out the color more uniformly. I did not do any further sanding after either of the coats of dye were applied.

The finish on top of the dye stain was Minwax Wipe On Poly in clear satin. Three coats in total with a super light sanding with 0000 steel wool in between the first and second coat. The third coat was left as is – maybe a little buffing with a soft cloth.

Anapolis7: You can definitely lay down ebony (or any dark dye) first, and then sand 80% of it off leaving only pigment behind in the grain of the curl (the curly figure is very much like end grain.) Then follow up with a subsequent layer(s) of lighter colored dye(s). That really highlights the grain and creates bold contrast. (However, on this particular project I just applied one color of dye straight up – no sanding between applications of dye) Look for a LJ blog on using aniline dyes by a member named “Trifern”. I credit Trifern’s blog and methods with aniline dyes with teaching me how to finish curly maple.

View Francois Vigneron's profile

Francois Vigneron

263 posts in 3603 days

#11 posted 03-04-2012 12:04 PM

Beautiful ! At first I fought it was some kind of exotic wood. Excellent stain job.

By the way, are there any european/french woodworker who could give me a tip on where to get nice maple like the one used in that project ? or other figured hardwoods ? Because in Europe they always claim that figured wood are reserved for the music instrument industry so they don’t let me buy it. In California, I got all my suppliers in a 10min drive, but around Paris, I am at a loss.

-- Francois Vigneron, Gif-sur-Yvette, France & Altadena, CA

View eyekode's profile


30 posts in 4066 days

#12 posted 03-04-2012 03:26 PM

Your tables are striking! I am usually not a fan of staining wood but this treatment is artistic. I also like the proportions in the piece. Thanks for sharing!

View Ken90712's profile


18081 posts in 4472 days

#13 posted 03-04-2012 03:57 PM

Amazing wood and color, and great work. Congrats.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1110 posts in 5091 days

#14 posted 03-04-2012 05:11 PM

The coloration is just beautiful! fantastic work.

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2859 posts in 4875 days

#15 posted 03-04-2012 05:38 PM

Beautiful Curly Maple & Excellent Craftsmanship!

-- Dennis Zongker

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