Walnut Coffee Table

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Project by schroeder posted 02-24-2007 05:12 AM 3636 views 19 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this table as a house warming for friends. Based on design by Kevin Rodel, I liked the “Craftsman” style, but it was still a little off the traditional. The only thing I regret is not talking to them first – They have all White Oak furniture, but I think the walnut compliments the oak, and they seemed pleased.

The plugs are u-wood, mortise & tenon throughout. I caught a lot of flack for the big stripe of sapwood in the top from some peers, but I personally like to take the wood as it lays ( I think wood is beautiful already, I’m just trying not to screw it up!)

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

19 comments so far

View rookster's profile


67 posts in 5062 days

#1 posted 02-24-2007 05:32 AM

Nice work! I just love walnut, and it looks like you did a beautiful job matching the grain on the top. The strip of sapwood is well placed too: I’m with you on taking the wood as it is. As long as you compose it well, sapwood brings out the beauty rather than hinders it.

-- Rookster, (

View RusticBru's profile


89 posts in 5023 days

#2 posted 02-24-2007 05:40 AM

Clean with very nice lines. I am quite fond of the sapwood line myself. The plugs really accent this fine piece of furniture. I really enjoy a bit off traditional…...and the blending of the complimentary woods is excellent. Elegant piece of furniture. I also believe many woodworkers are grounded to Earth by their canine friends.

-- RusticBru of Utah,

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5239 days

#3 posted 02-24-2007 06:05 AM

Outstanding! I love what walnut brings to craftsman style – especially if you can take a loose approach with the design. Looks great – and when the wood is that nice, you don’t need to dye the supposed “imperfections”. Can’t take to much flack for something that’s only a matter of opinion.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5226 days

#4 posted 02-24-2007 07:23 AM

What is my dog doing at your shop? I am impressed with your work.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5072 days

#5 posted 02-24-2007 01:27 PM

this is beautiful!
The splash of colour on the top takes this table to a new level of art! “perfect” = “perfect piece of furniture; “flawed” = “perfect piece of art” (or functional art)

I find this concept also falls into photograph, with people removing damaged flowers from their photos etc. But that is not how Mother Nature designed it. I like natural.

This is beautiful. They must be really proud of this gift!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5158 days

#6 posted 02-24-2007 03:42 PM

Thats the way I am, if its part of the wood what the heck wood is’nt perfect. I actually like a little sapwood in my walnut, gives it character. jockmike2.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5149 days

#7 posted 02-24-2007 04:07 PM

WE are your peers and the sapwood gives it a nice “Hey, I’m a board” feel to it. I made some nesting tables and the middle one has sapwood running through the middle of it. In todays world there are so many people that have spent their lives at Wal-Mart that they think that that unifrom plastic laminate stuff is really oak. I was almost going to put a knot in everything I did, just for a “Signature”. I put one in my sones Cherry/Maple table that was beautiful. Some people don’t see it though. They think that a know is ugly.

And what IS Dennis’ dog doing in your shop?

Oh, one thing you can’t see in the nesting tables is the smallest one, the grain in running in the wrong direction. It doesnt show because it still fit, although it is wider than it is long.

It was the first one made and I was at the beginning of the learning curve.

Hey Dennis, see the way the dog is looking over it’s shoulder? Like it knows it’s been busted.

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5149 days

#8 posted 02-24-2007 06:15 PM

Schroeder this was the first thing I ever did that had an ententional knot. I thought it was a beauty mark

Look at the lower left corner.

View Kaleo's profile


201 posts in 5051 days

#9 posted 02-25-2007 01:09 AM


Man that is a beautiful table. I also love the craftsmen style. There something about the nice squareness about the style. Your table has great lines and I love the strecher at the bottom. Plus I just love walnut. That is the main problem with being over here in Australia at the moment. Here in Tasmania there are not truely dark woods. I can’t wait to get home and use some walnut.

-- Kaleo ,

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 5037 days

#10 posted 02-25-2007 01:25 AM

Thanks all for the comments – and Dennis,... _your _dog crapped in the back of _MY _pickup! (the price I pay for a “pretty” shop dog instead of a “smart” shop dog I guess :)

Debbie – They were pleased with the gift, and have inquired about some more pieces, but unfortunately, most people just don’t realize how much time goes into a piece of furniture. The two Morris chairs and ottomans I’m working on now are at about 130 hours with at least another 30 to go -

I’d love to take credit for the design, but its Kevin Rodel all the way. I really like his take on the craftsman style, and hopefully it will sink in and I can use it in some of my designs.

Obi – I love the wild grain in your table top – I’m all about not spoiling the wood!

Kaelo – bring some wood home in your suitcase – I’ll trade ya! ;)

Thanks again all

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View richard58's profile


8 posts in 5023 days

#11 posted 02-25-2007 05:43 PM

Really nice work and nice design ,Walnut really looks good.

-- [email protected]

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5073 days

#12 posted 02-25-2007 06:32 PM

I think the table looks great. No one around here is giving you grief about the stripe on the top. I think it adds to the beauty of the table.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5149 days

#13 posted 02-25-2007 06:48 PM

And whatta ya mean not a smart dog? Did the dog crap in the truck or the shop? Crap in truck, o.k., crap in shop NOT o.k.

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5089 days

#14 posted 02-26-2007 12:42 AM

Nice work, Schroeder. I’m partial to arts & Crafts furniture.

I’m curious about the breadboard ends. I know it is common practice to screw into the ends of the breadboard to the table and plug these. Garry Rogowski wrote an article in Fine Woodworking a couple of years ago on making table tops with breadboard ends in the Greene & Greene style. He showed the same thing, although his table had plugged screws every three inches or so.

However, my curiosity has to do with the effectiveness of screws that have been driven into end grain. Can they really be expected to hold? How far into the end-grain do your screws go? The concept of a breadboard end, as I understand it is to allow for expansion and contraction (wood movement) due to seasonal humidity changes. I assume that the center screw is fixed and the two outside ones allow for movement by elongating the holes, Is this correct?

By the way, I really like the intentional over-sized ends.

As usual, Mate, nice work!

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 5037 days

#15 posted 02-26-2007 01:26 AM

Don – The bread boards help keep the table flat, or rather the apperance of flatness, (there are those who will disagree, but I speak from first hand). On this table, and typically all my tables w/breadboards, I sink a dowel about 1 1/2” in from the end, then rout away and sink the screws into the dowel (i.e. am screwing into short grain). The over size ends allow for the expansion/contraction of the top. If I made them flush, they would be short part of the year, long part of the year and flush – at least when at the time of building – being oversize is essentially “empasizing” the defect. As the top shrinks and expands, there is always overhang, so looks “correct” all the time. I’d post pix of the process, but better wood worker than geek – thanks, Schroeder

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

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