Hall Table


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Hi all,

I though I'd solicit responses from my Hall Table. This is only my third project, but it is a quantum leap beyond anything I've tried before, so in so many ways it was a first.

It's made from cherry and walnut with a maple beading round the panels. The top is made from a walnut burl veneer with tulipwood banding on BB ply with a solid walnut frame. I did have the lumber yard plane the boards S2S, but after that it was almost entirely built by hand (with occasional resort to a router).

I knew the legs were going to challenge me. Originally I tried to use my router to shape the legs, but the bit slipped in the collett and cut a nasty gouge across three of the leg blanks, requiring me to cut and fit an insert to plug the damage. So I gave up on the router and just cut the legs to shape using my jack plane and rabbet plane. I also tried to use the router to put the flutings in the legs, but a couple of the legs had bowed very slightly - this meant that the fluting depth didn't rout evenly along the length, not by much but very visible. So I had to go and buy a small carving gouge to even out the flutings. More cursing against the router. The machine did redeem itself somewhat by cutting the curved pieces on the stretcher from a template. But I'll be happy the day I don't even think about getting it out of the cupboard for a project.

The veneered top was the other part that I was apprehensive about tackling. Although it was intimidating to take the first step, the hammer veneering process turned out to be much easier than I had imagined - I guess the proof will be in whether or not it delaminates with time.

So I have some questions...

- Since I clearly don't have the skills to use a router efficiently, what would have been the best way to cut the flutings by hand? After shaping the legs there isn't room to slide the skate of a plow plane along, even if I did have a curved cutter.

- I cut the curved pieces on the stretcher with the grain at 45 degrees so that neither end would have a weak tenon across the end-grain, but this left both ends with the tenons at a 45 angle, which doesn't seem very strong either. Is there a better way to make this stronger?

- Apart for the stretcher, the design is still all square and boxy in a beginner friendly way. What simple things could be done to a design like this as I advance my skills to 'soften' the angularity?

- Wood movement. The top has a ply core so I'm not too worried about that, but the side panels are solid walnut, and I made no allowances for expansion. The 'shrinkulator' says I should expect 0.03" movement. Am I going to regret this in time? or can I get away with it for panels this size? if so, at what size panel should I start worrying?

Finally the lesson of "measure twice cut once". This project spent a lot of time being tweaked in sketchup, and by the time I was finished it had grown bigger than the space I had originally measured. Something I didn't double-check before I started cutting wood - it still fits, but it's a little larger than I had planned - still that just means there's more table for me to admire every time I walk through the door.







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For only being your third project I'd say your on your way to being quite a craftsman.

Other than what Vic has already pointed out, my personal taste would have not used such a light wood around the drawer front and the panels.

It might just be the photography lighting but it may take away from the great veneer on the top.

Nice work


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From a design point of view I would change almost nothing at all. It has exactly the right amount of boxy if you really want to know and balances well with the curves.

Overall I would say the quality of workmanship is superb. If you've got a few hidden mistakes or bodges you've certainly hidden very well, and only you are likely to know about them. Feel justly proud, after all taking a pride in what you do will only drive you to strive to do better and that can never be a bad thing.

On the question of movement there is absolutely no hard and fast rule except that the wider the panel the more chance of movement. However, it is completely down to the timber selection the cut from the bole, is it radial, is it quarter sawn or a variant in between. all will have some movement. Movement is much much more about the EMC of the wood. If it remains constant or very close to it there will be virtually no movement. If it varies a lot then there will be.

I take Vic's view concerning the veneering. I obviously don't know exactly how you did it. But one of the problems with hammer veneering, and with a top like this I certainly would not have veneered it any other way, is the introduction of water into the process and the subsequent shrinkage as things dry out. If you lay the veneers in the normal manner and overlap the joins by a few millimetres then leave it to set until the next day before very carefully softening the hide glue as close to the join as possible, say no more than 1/2" I use an electric soldering iron over a damp rag and apply in short bursts just enough to soften the glue. Once you see it is soft lay your straight edge along the centre of the overlap or exactly where you want the join, slice right through both veneers with your craft knife, tilting it ever so very slightly away from the straight edge as you do, then peel away the top piece, next carefully slide your blade under the bottom piece at one end and ease the top veneer up and withdraw the bottom slither of veneer out. Relay the two veneer edges and you should end up with an invisible, or, virtually invisible join. The secret is to only soften as much as you can and by tilting the knife you effectively create an angled joint with the top veneer going over the bottom one. By doing this after the veneer has had a chance to dry somewhat and only softening the minimum at the join you avoid as much shrinkage as possible.

Practice makes us almost perfect.

On the question of tenons I would probably have used dowels here or loose tenons. I don't, and probably never will, own a Domino machine so I can't say if they would have been appropriate here or not. I'm sure some one will tell us.

Great piece enjoy it


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Hi H3nry,

Great looking hall table. Really pretty design. I like the medalian at the bottom, it really sets it apart.

The only thing I think I would add to the comments is thinning the design up here and there. For example, on the drawers take them down from 3/4 to 3/8 thickness. The nice thing about this is if you are using true 4/4 stock alot of time you can get two drawer sides out of one piece.

Also thinning the legs might lighten the design a little. Its a delicate design which I love but I think some of the parts are a little chuncky.

Just a little positive critisim.

Great Job!,

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