Elm Slab table

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Project by Manitario posted 01-20-2013 07:22 PM 11894 views 38 times favorited 43 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Like so many of my projects, this started off with my wife wanting to buy a piece of furniture. She’d been bugging me that we needed a new kitchen table and started sending me pics of tables from stores…I told her that there was no way I was going to pay money for something that I could make. I’ve admired the slab furniture on LJ’s and really wanted to try making a slab trestle table. I’ve used elm before and I really admire its rich grain figure; as well I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba which unlike most of the cities in N. America still retains most of its elm forest, so I have a certain nostalgia for elm. When planning this table, I thought it would be relatively simple to make; a couple of weeks of casual work to throw it together. As I started the work though I realized that this was a huge undertaking. The joinery is simple; basic mortise and tenon construction for the base and only one glue joint for the top, but it presented several serious difficulties due to the size of the pieces. The bookmatched slabs for the top came “planed on on side and jointed on one edge” but in reality the top was not flat and the edge was not at 90 deg. After several very awkward attempts to feed the 80lb slabs through my 6” jointer I gave up and used a #7 plane which was still awkward given that the top is almost 3” thick. After I got the edge jointed as best as I thought possible I glued the top together; which ended up with an almost 1” cup from edge to edge. Time for more hand planing. And more hand planing. And hours of sanding. Then filling most of the cracks with epoxy which I dyed black. Finally, almost 3 months after I started the “two week” project is done!
Finish is 8 coats of Minwax “Tung oil” aka wiping varnish progressively sanded up to 1000 grit. The bowties are walnut. Now comes the fun of making benches and chairs….

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

43 comments so far

View Retsof's profile


134 posts in 2742 days

#1 posted 01-20-2013 07:32 PM

The first thing that came to mind as I saw your table was, “Wow, that looks heavy!” That top is beautiful. Nice work!

-- "There seems to be a black hole in my garage that swallows up pencils and tape measures as soon as I put them down."

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2513 days

#2 posted 01-20-2013 07:39 PM

Beautiful job! My wife is standing next to me and she says “OOhhh, THAT’S nice!”

Which in “wifespeak” means… “Why couldnt you have built ME one like that?” LOL

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View kimosawboy's profile


173 posts in 3477 days

#3 posted 01-20-2013 07:43 PM

Your second pic certainly got my attention, love the joinery!!
What are the small “blocks” on the horizontals under the slab??
Nice all around.
G Vavra

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2697 days

#4 posted 01-20-2013 08:11 PM

beautiful table!great job,a lot nicer than you’d buy in a store.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Manitario's profile


2781 posts in 3389 days

#5 posted 01-20-2013 08:16 PM

joein10asee; yep, you might as well buy the wood and start…
kimosawboy; the blocks are screwed into the slab and fit into slots on the trestles; it attaches the top to the trestles but still allows for wood movement in the top.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2850 days

#6 posted 01-20-2013 08:22 PM

very nice table

View Don W's profile

Don W

19331 posts in 3074 days

#7 posted 01-20-2013 08:45 PM

Well it was worth the wait. Its beautiful for sure.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View John's profile


341 posts in 4304 days

#8 posted 01-20-2013 08:51 PM

what a beauty! elm is some tough wood, that’ll look as great 200 years from now; great butterflys

-- John - Central PA -

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4083 days

#9 posted 01-20-2013 08:57 PM

Super table ,great job.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3363 days

#10 posted 01-20-2013 09:42 PM

That is one great table
Elm being my favorite timber
well worth the extra ten weeks

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Manitario's profile


2781 posts in 3389 days

#11 posted 01-21-2013 12:49 AM

thanks guys! I see all its flaws but my wife is happy so I guess it turned out ok…

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2991 days

#12 posted 01-21-2013 12:55 AM

I hope your wife has since mentioned that it’s so much nicer than anything store bought! Great work, very stout.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4194 days

#13 posted 01-21-2013 01:57 AM

Anything worth having is worth waiting for …...point proven by this beautiful table : )
Looking forward to your chairs and benches !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View LexWoodWorks's profile


15 posts in 2728 days

#14 posted 01-21-2013 02:09 AM

Rob…Love the dovetail keys; Nakashima would be proud. Funny how the “small” projects become much more huh. One of these days I’m going to get to get good at estimating time and scope with the “Mission Control”...ha ha ha.

Have fun making the benches and chairs! Great project…well done!

-- the lyf so short the craft so long to lerne

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3196 days

#15 posted 01-21-2013 02:11 AM

You did a wonderful job on this table. The black dyed epoxy and the bowties really look great. Elm is not easy but the end result justifies the headaches. How did you dye your epoxy?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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