Canadian Woodworking

Entrance table

Author: Gordon Graff
Published: August September 2002

What are the first impression visitors get when they enter your home?


Architects, designers and psychologists all agree that a person’s first impression is a lasting one.

Here is a table that will make a great first impression. This modern entrance table has an attractive design using two contrasting woods and is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.


The two species of wood I chose for my project (ipe and ash) provide a dramatic visual impact. Other combinations of woods that also work for this project are: walnut and maple; ash and walnut; or ash and wenge. Any combination of two woods that are at opposite ends of the colour spectrum will provide you with a nice contrast.

Before you begin, it is always a good idea to give yourself a “fudge factor”. For instance, it is easier to make the tabletop a little longer and wider than needed and then trim it to the finished size.

The project can be adjusted to suit your particular space. Check with the material list for specific dimensions. Decide on the finished size of the table and then have your material milled (photo 1).

Use a jointer, table saw, hand plane or router for jointing the Ash center panel of the table. Whatever method you choose, your goal in jointing is to create nearly invisible joint lines, while providing the best glue surface for strength (photo 2).

Next, rip and joint the Ipe for the top and the leg slats. Rip the ipe for the top a little bit wider than the finished width because you will be trimming it to its final width after the top is assembled (photo 3).

Take care with the placement of the biscuits (photo 4). The top is going to be cut on an angle later and you don’t want the biscuits in an area where you will cut through and expose them when cutting the angled top. Mark for biscuits by roughly drawing the finished top on the blank first. In this way you can easily see where to place the biscuits.

Now dry fit the top in the clamps and check to see if your jointing method has produced a flat panel or not (photo 5).

If the top is flat, then go ahead and glue it up and let it sit in the clamps overnight (photo 6). If the top is not flat, then correct it before the glue goes on. After the glue has dried, remove the top from the clamps, scrape and sand it smooth.

Next, cut the top to its finished width and length. If you have built in the “fudge factor” I mentioned earlier, you will now appreciate having cut the top a little longer and wider.

Cut the top’s angled end and lay it out. Find the center of the panel, mark it and draw a line from the center mark of the panel to a pencil mark located 2” down from the top on each edge of the top (photo 7). Join the lines together. This gives you the angle at which to cut the top.

Set the mitre gauge on the table saw to the angle you have drawn and cut (photo 8). The mitre gauge has an auxiliary fence installed on it to support the tabletop’s length during the angled cut. The fence gives you more control over cutting a wide panel. Turn the mitre gauge backwards from its usual position to allow the width of the top to be cut safely on the saw. When the top is finished, ease the edges with a 3/8” radius round over bit using a router.

Set up a stacked dado in the saw to a width of 3/4” (the width of the leg slats). Check with the drawing to place the dadoes. Clamp the four Ash slat supports together and cut them all at the same time. Use a sacrificial pine board to back up the cut and prevent tear out (photo 9).

Cut the open mortises for the rails. You can do this on the drill press with a forstner bit and clean it up with a sharp chisel. Cut the open mortises to a depth of 3/4” and to the width of the rails, 1 3/4”. Cut these into the slat supports 1 1/4”, leaving 1/2” of Ash at the back for support (photo 10).

Clamp the leg assembly together and leave the assembly overnight to cure (photo 11).

Bring the leg assembly and the rails together (photo 12). Use glue and two #8 1 1/2” to hold the assembly together. At this point that the assembly is weak. Brace it square until the glue dries. Marry the two pieces and place the screws to hold the tabletop to the base (photo 13).

Use elongated screw holes to mount the top to the base (photo 14). The elongated screw holes will allow for the seasonal movement of the top.

I finished with three coats of lacquer. Now place the table at the door and invite a few guests over. I am sure they will be impressed.

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