Canadian Woodworking

Half moon table

Author: Denis Roy
Published: February March 2003

This little half moon table is something that fits well into virtually any living room.


It can be used as a decorative piece where a larger table won’t fit or as a snack table that can be moved to any chair side as needed.

I searched high and low for the right styling for this table and found that it just cannot be found in furniture stores. The inspiration for the design came from an antique which lets it fit into any decor.

The table can be built from pine, cherry, oak, or whatever stock you may have around. Ideally, the legs should be 1” thick and the two surfaces should be ½” thick. ¾” stock works just as well, used throughout if you prefer. My prototype was built from solid walnut tongue and groove wall paneling, ½” thick, glued to double thickness for the legs and cross members. I was most fortunate in finding a good quantity of this paneling at a give-away price in a used building materials store.


Prepare your stock by edge-gluing to required widths. My stock was ½” thick so the photo shows some parts being glued to double thickness.


Using the grid diagram, transfer the profiles to your stock or to stiff cardboard.

Cardboard templates are an additional step that will pay off if you ever want to build the project again. When others see this little table, you are bound to get requests for more!

Trace the templates onto the stock and cut the shapes using a band saw or jig saw. A band saw greatly simplifies this project. Cut the tenons to the shapes on the templates. The tenons should be ½” wide. Turn each crossbar 90 degrees and cut the tenons to ½” thickness. The tenons should look like ½” cubes when done.

The top can be built as a half-moon or as a pie-crust shape. Choose your contour from the grid diagram. Draw the center line on your stock. Place your template along the line and trace it on one side. Flip the template along the mirror line and trace the opposite half. Note also, that the pie-crust table top is 2” longer than the half moon. Cut your stock to the correct dimension for your chosen contour.


Sand the parts. The tight curves on the legs and the crossbars are best sanded using drum sanders in a drill press but they can also be hand sanded. Sand the tops smooth and even up the curved edges with a belt sander. The concave sides of the legs must be done using the end roller of a belt sander.


On the full length stringer (#2) and the full length cleat (#4), mark the center point of the side. Using a ½” Forstner bit, drill a hole ½” deep in the center of each part. Using a sharp chisel, square the corners of the holes. Test fit the tenons of the half stringer (#3) and the half cleat (#5) into these mortises, adjusting with the chisel as required. Don’t worry if the fit is a little sloppy.

On each leg, cut two more mortises in the same manner. The locations of the mortises are marked on the grid diagram. When drilling the lower mortise, make sure to prop up the part as required to drill the mortise parallel to the top & bottom of the leg. Square up the mortises with a chisel and test fit the parts.


Using a ½” or ⅜” radius router bit, round over the outer edges of the legs. A router table greatly simplifies this process. Leave the ends and the inner edges square.


On the full length stringer and cleat (#2 & #4), apply glue to the tenons and insert them into their mortises. Gently pull the joints together with pipe or bar clamps. If excess glue was used, allow the glue to be gently squeezed out of the joint. If excessive force is used, the parts may split from hydraulic pressure. Make sure the assembly is flat. Check that the assembly is square by comparing diagonal measurements, adjusting as necessary. Wipe up squeezed out glue thoroughly with a wet rag.


When the glue has set for at least 30 minutes, clamp the remaining leg, the half-stringer (#3) and the half-cleat (#5) together, as shown. A piece of scrap lumber can be used vertically as shown to allow the use of a single clamp. Stand the assembly on a flat surface and check that it is square using a carpenter’s square.


Using a profiled router bit of your choice, contour the upper edges of the top (#6) and the lower surface (#7). Complete the final sanding of all parts, paying particular attention to areas where glue was washed away.

Install the top and the lower surface using glue and screws. The screws should be counter sunk and the length should be carefully chosen to provide a good bite without penetrating the surface.

Your table is now ready to apply a finish of your choice. My walnut version was finished with three coats of low-lustre polyurethane. This is my favourite finish which I apply to virtually everything I build. It is a tough, water-resistant surface which is easy to wipe clean. No coasters are necessary.

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