Walnut and Curly Maple End Tables

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Project by JDNC posted 04-23-2013 02:03 AM 4385 views 5 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We needed some more storage, and needed something to serve as end tables for our sofa. so I drew up some plans for a cabinet that could serve both purposes… The next question was what to build it out of.

A while ago I bought some Walnut, but I’d never made any furniture-sized projects out of any of it. I thought that making the end tables totally out of Walnut might make them too dark… so I decided to use contrasting wood. I had seen Walnut paired with Curly Maple, so I decided to buy some Curly Maple, and give that a try.

Lots of learning happened over the last few months while I was working on this project… it started with how to plane and prepare the Curly Maple parts – learning just how to plan, then sand and scrape the Maple to get a good smooth surface, and then figuring out how to pair it with the walnut parts.

But the biggest challenge was learning how to finish these two types of wood – and how to finish them so that the finished product would look good and be protected. I did a lot of Web-based research about how to make the grain pop on Curly Maple, and how to bring out the beautiful color of steamed Walnut. I listened to Charles Neil talk about how you should spend almost as long finishing your piece as you did building it… that’s what happened here!

To finish the piece, first I used a wax-free shellac which was tinted with a dye (TransTint Dark Vintage Maple). I put on a coat, let it dry – then sanded to remove the tint from the less porous grain – then repeated. For the Walnut, I read a lot about using an orange tint in the shellac, but I ended up just using the same tint on it as well… I am now a believer about using shellac with tint to bring out the warmth of the wood! I then followed up the shellac with a coat of Watco Danish Oil – per the instructions on the container. After letting that dry thoroughly (72 hours minimum), I top-coated with General Finishes Arm-R-Seal (satin). I did this whole process on the individual parts, then assembled the entire piece, and put several more coats of Arm-R-Seal on the finished End Tables. All in all there are probably 6 coats of the Arm-R-Seal. I rubbed on each of the layers of all of the different types of finish.

I’m really pleased with the result – it is amazing how at any time during the day, the pieces look different, because the light catches the maple and walnut differently – showing of the grain and color. I would recommend giving these wood species and finishing techniques a try!

7 comments so far

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8547 posts in 2493 days

#1 posted 04-23-2013 03:10 AM

Very nice job. I’ll never tire of those contrasting wood types together.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3536 days

#2 posted 04-23-2013 05:39 AM

Looks great

-- Dreaming patterns

View Ken90712's profile


17743 posts in 3699 days

#3 posted 04-23-2013 09:56 AM

Great work, it does really pop. I have recieved help from Charles Neil as well. Great guy…. Nice Job!

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

View Oldtool's profile


2788 posts in 2701 days

#4 posted 04-23-2013 10:33 AM

Great looking set of end tables. I like that combination of woods, and that curly maple really stands out nice. Two beautiful pieces of furniture.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2854 days

#5 posted 04-23-2013 12:45 PM

nice job

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2686 days

#6 posted 04-25-2013 02:44 PM

Very fine looking end tables! Great design and choice of wood. The finish is amazing. Impressive work!

View waho6o9's profile


8770 posts in 3088 days

#7 posted 04-25-2013 02:56 PM

Beautiful work.

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