Table Design and Wood Choice Sanity Check


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Hi Everyone,

 

I am in the initial planning stages of my next project. The wife wants a new formal dining room table. We have settled on a trestle design similar to the one that Marc did on the free site. She also likes a design that she found on the Ishitani youtube channel.

I already built her a figured Sapele table for the breakfast area, so we decided to go with a lighter top for this table. She likes Ambrosia maple and I happen to have a rather unusual piece of 8/4. I will include a photo below. Now we need to decide what to do with the base. We want to go with a darker wood to contrast with the top. We are thinking walnut because I also have a piece of figured walnut that could be used for the stretcher.

I would like some thoughts from all of you. Does this thought process make sense? I would like to get some thoughts from all of you. The folks here have much more experience that I do with wood choice and design.   I am open to other choices outside of the walnut. I appreciate your thoughts and help (I am sure that the wife will as well).

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Thanks for your thoughts. I can see how it could be busy and a waste at the same time. The wife wants the table to be between 6 and 7 foot lomg. The ambrosia board is about 10 foot in length. I was going to use that in the middle and get some additioanl ambrosia for the rest of the top. My local yard has 8/4 for 3.50 bf this weekend.

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JMO and opinions vary. As much as I like ambrosia maple, this piece is way too busy for a tabletop that size. I could see you loosing a salt or pepper shaker or even a dinner plate on there. I've always thought that the designs in the carpet at casinos were made in such a busy design that if you drop a chip, you wouldn't be able to find it. Maybe save the board for an end table or something smaller. 

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Your post indicates you have only one piece, do you have enough of it to make the top ?

Matching figured lumber is always a challenge, and this piece is very unusual.

Too much of a good thing, is not always better.  

I personally preferred a figured top and a subtle base, in this case maybe a pure white maple base will do it, that way you will not take away from the top. 

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I like the idea of putting your beautiful board in the middle but I am not sure that I would put more abrosia maple on each side of it.  Your showpiece board wouldhave a realy Wow factor if youuse something like walnut on each side of it.  Cherry would work but will look better as the cherry darkens.  Just an idea.

 

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I do like the idea of a contrasting dark wood on the top next to the maple. I thought about not using this board and doing a regular ambrosia top with dark breadboards. Wifey was not a fan of that idea. I ma be able to talk her into something light and dark that does not involve breadboards.

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2 hours ago, AcworthWW said:

I do like the idea of a contrasting dark wood on the top next to the maple.

You don't wanna do this.  Single species top, single species base.  You'll thank me later.

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3 hours ago, AcworthWW said:

I do like the idea of a contrasting dark wood on the top next to the maple. I thought about not using this board and doing a regular ambrosia top with dark breadboards. Wifey was not a fan of that idea. I ma be able to talk her into something light and dark that does not involve breadboards.

Light and dark on the top will give you racing stripes. Do you want the top to look like a NASCAR reject?

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Like @wdwerker I imagine a pretty nice contrast with some cherry. But it's hard to be sure with photos. Anyone have his own taste. Think about it with balance and elegance as master words. If you use a figured wood as eye catching element, you want a more sober wood to contrast with it. Because contrast is not all about colour. It's also about grain and texture. A darker figured wood won't match IMHO because it's like a over-sugared cake. You don't want either a love/hate relation between the two species. Find a wood that matches with some areas of your maple board. You want a second wood that reveals the figured one, you don't want it to challenge the maple. You need some consistency all over the piece of furniture. I don't like tops made out too much species, and it's not only a question of look. Don't worry you have only one single board of maple. You can resaw it and use it as a thick veneer on top of another wood (make sure to use a softer wood than your maple). This is not easy starting with a strongly figured board as eye catcher to find the perfect match. Go to the lumber yard with your board, a block plane and a damp rag, and select the best possible match. Pay attention about the look but also the hardness of the wood, and the way it was sawn. Forces must be balanced between boards and species. I guess that's why @Eric. advices about a single material for the top and one for the legs. It prevents nasty surprises...

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5 hours ago, Eric. said:

You don't wanna do this.  Single species top, single species base.  You'll thank me later.

I'm guessing that this is about response to temp and humidity.  Would Gee Dub's design work, with some provision for wood movement?

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1 hour ago, Jean [Fr] said:

I guess that's why @Eric. advices about a single material for the top and one for the legs. It prevents nasty surprises...

 

1 hour ago, Pondhockey said:

I'm guessing that this is about response to temp and humidity.  Would Gee Dub's design work, with some provision for wood movement?

No, my comments are driven purely by aesthetics.  Mixing boards from different batches of lumber for either the top or the base won't look right...especially when using such unique-looking material.  It'll look thrown together in cheap if the boards don't match.

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9 minutes ago, Eric. said:

No, my comments are driven purely by aesthetics.  Mixing boards from different batches of lumber for either the top or the base won't look right...especially when using such unique-looking material.  It'll look thrown together in cheap if the boards don't match.

Agree 100% on this.

Color and grain are the two easiest things to control, but seem to be the hardest to teach. Most of the people on here that make things have good construction techniques. But the wood choices leave much to be desired.

Step it up!! :) The info is there! 

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I appreciate tall of the comments and suggestions. We decided to do with a single species. We stopped by the lumber yard to check on the maple and wandered over to see how the walnut looked. We ended up going with the walnut.

I was able to get 8/4 FAS walnut for 8.50/bf. Pretty happy with that price. It is all front he same batch so the color matches well. I will likely go Monday and pick up a few more boards to give myself some more options for grain continuity. What I don't use in the top I  can use in the base.IMG_0050.thumb.JPG.c33c084fd0efa307cfeb565ff85ef473.JPG

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I agree with @Eric, don't do the racing stripe, but I think @gee-dub's idea of a border using that ambrosia maple is good. 

While I haven't dealt with a lot of ambrosia maple, that piece is insanely figured.  Most of my experience, the maple is just splotched with colors here and there.  This one looks like a Jackson Pollack painting.   As a sanity check, I googled it, and few if any of the pics I saw were even close to that piece.  You will be hard pressed to match any other lumber to that piece.  I would consider that board to be unique and find a project to build around that one board.  

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I do not see much call for wildly figured dining table figure. Think about how the table is covered in use and you will see why the tops are often bland with refinement in base features. Just a thought that the pull is not universal. 

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