Furniture Project: The clean lines of the Craftsman style have always appealed to me, so when I wanted a pedestal dining table that wasn’t Country or Modern, and wouldn’t look out of place with my grandmother’s antiques, I settled on this design.
The table is built in three steps: the top, the apron, and the base. In keeping with the Craftsman era, I used quarter-sawn white oak for the top and aprons, and plain-sawn white oak for the rest of the table. Of course, you can use a different wood to suit your decor.
Pedestal slides (Photo by Lee Valley)
Top and Leaf
The top consists of two semi-circular halves and one leaf.
• Select 5/4 stock for the top (A) and leaf (B). Cut the boards a couple of inches longer than the finished length, and mill them to the same thickness. Arrange the boards to present a pleasing grain pattern. (If you do not have access to 5/4 stock you can use ¾” stock for the top).
• Joint the edges of the boards, and then glue them together to form two top panels and a leaf. I used biscuits, placed every 6″ to 8″, to facilitate assembling and levelling the boards. Alternately you could use dowels or splines to join the boards.
• Use a doweling jig to drill holes in the two halves and the leaf. The holes will be used to hold the table leaf alignment pins. You can either use metal alignment pins or wooden dowels.
• Place the two top panels bottom-side- up on a sacrificial piece of plywood, and align them using the alignment pins. Using a router trammel (see Router Trammel sidebar) and a carbide spiral up-cut bit, cut out the circular table top. Rout in a counter-clockwise direction, taking shallow cuts with each pass, until the circle is cut through. Alternatively, take one pass with the router to scribe the outline of the circle, cut the circle with a jigsaw, and then clean up the cut using the router.
• Insert the leaf in between the two top halves, and mark out the final dimension of the leaf. Then cut the leaf to final size on the table saw.
• Plane, sand or scrape the top, ensuring that both halves, and the leaf, are level.
Apron and Keys
There are three ways to make the apron: kerf bending, steam bending or laminate bending. I had intended to use kerf bending, but then I read that the kerfs would eventually ‘telegraph’ to the outside of the apron – something I did not want! That left steam and laminate bending. I chose laminate bending for my apron, as it seemed the easiest for one person to accomplish (see the Bending Form sidebar)
• Build the plywood form, remembering that the outside diameter of the form will be the inside diameter of your apron.
• Prepare stock for the aprons (C, D). Cut the top aprons (C) about 6″ longer and ½” wider, and then trim them to finished dimension after they have been laminated.
• Using a bandsaw, re-saw your apron stock into three thinner pieces.
• Plane one side of each piece, and then align, glue and clamp these pieces around the form.
• Clean up one edge of the aprons on the jointer, the other on the table saw, and trim to fit the table top. Leave a little room between the two apron halves for wood movement; the gap will be covered by the decorative keys.
• Attach the aprons to the underside of the top. I used a Kreg pocket hole jig for this. To allow for seasonal wood movement I enlarged the bottom holes. You could also use expansion washers.
• From the scrap ends of your apron, shape the decorative keys (E). I made mine ¼” thick.
• Glue and pin or nail the keys to the apron and the leaf.
• I used metal slides, but you could substitute wood slides. Use a file to lengthen the mounting holes in the slides to allow for wood movement in the table top.
• Attach the slides to the underside of the table, ensuring that they are square to the table opening, and parallel to each other.
• Attach the leaf locks.
The base is comprised of a pillar, four fins, and four feet. I used plain sawn white oak for the base. When it is cut for the fins and the feet, the ray grain is most visible on the outer edges of the fins and the top of the feet. I attached the feet to the pillar with mortise and tenon joints. To attach the fins to the pillar I used spline joints, and I used lag bolts to secure the feet to the fins.
• Dimension and glue the 4″ square base pillar (F), and then square the ends.
• Cut mortises in the top of the pillar to accommodate the table supports.
• Glue up the blanks for the four feet (H) from 8/4 stock, preferably from the same board so the grain patterns match. It is critical that the top and bottom edges of the feet are parallel to each other so that the table will sit square on the floor. To accomplish this, machine the feet blanks square before band sawing them to shape.
• Mark out the shape of the feet onto cardboard or hardboard, cutting and fine tuning the feet pattern. Then lay out the pattern on the feet stock and shape with bandsaw and drum sander.
• Draw a pattern for the fins (G) as well, and cut and shape them from 8/4 stock.
• Rout the grooves in the pillar and the fins to accommodate the ½” plywood splines (I).
• In the bottom of the feet, drill and countersink the holes for the lag bolts. I also countersunk holes to accommodate two plastic levelling glides in each foot to compensate for the uneven slate floor in our kitchen.
• Cut the mortises in the bottom of the pillar, and cut the mating tenons on the feet.
• Glue and clamp the feet into the pillar, using the fins to check for square.
• Glue the splines and fins onto the pillar.
• Drill pilot holes and screw in the lag bolts.
Table Support and Sub-base
Cut the table supports (J) from straight-grained stock and trim to fit the dado in the pillar.
• Mark and cut a half lap joint in the center of the supports.
• Drill and countersink the bolt holes in the supports.
• Cut the plywood sub-base (K) from 1″ Baltic birch ply.
• Center the plywood on the supports, and mark the location of the bolt holes, then drill and insert T-nuts into the plywood.
• Center the plywood on the underside of the top, pre-drill holes into the slide centers and then attach with #10 screws.
I wanted a finish that would really ‘pop’ the quarter-sawn grain of the white oak. This involved applying an aniline wood stain followed by several coats of Watco
Oil. The aniline stain highlights the ray grain, and the oil highlights the straight grain. You can, of course, apply a finish of your choice to the table.
• Sand to 220 grit.
• Wet the wood to raise the grain, and then re-sand lightly.
• Apply the Light Oak Aniline Wood Stain. I found I had to re-wet the wood prior to application to avoid lap marks.
• Coat the end grain around the table edge and on the legs with a thin coat of lacquer to keep it from absorbing too much colour and getting too dark.
• When totally dry, start applying coats of Dark Walnut Watco Oil, one coat every one or two days, until the colour is as dark as you like. Then switch to Natural Danish Oil until you have built up at least seven coats.
So now that the table is finished all I have to do is make six matching chairs to go with it.
Make this Bending Form to Make Curved Apron
There are a number of ways to make bending forms. The method I use is adapted from Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, Book 2, (ISBN 1-56158-068-6, available through your local bookseller). The form should be about ½” wider than the piece you are bending – for my aprons the form needed to be 3 ½” wide. Make the form longer than the finished length of the apron so you’ll have enough to trim the ends neatly. I made the form out of one sheet of ½” ply and four sheets of ¾” ply (you could also use MDF). Having an extra pair of hands makes assembly and glue-up easier.
• Layout the apron curve on the ½” ply.
• Bandsaw or jigsaw the curve.
• Sand or hand plane the curve smooth.
• Use the ½” ply as the template for cutting the ¾” sheets of ply.
• Glue and screw the five sheets of ply together.
• An inch or so in from the edge of the form use a saw tooth bit to drill holes through the form to accommodate the heads of your clamps. I placed the holes 6″ apart.
• Wax the curve or apply cellophane tape (to prevent the veneer from adhering to the form).
• Glue up the three pieces of veneer (but don’t put glue on the two outside faces of the veneer stack).
• Lay them on the form. Tape helps to position and temporarily hold them in place.
• Place the backer on the outside of the veneer stack. You can use a continuous piece of ¾” ply or smaller blocks.
• Apply the clamps, beginning in the middle and working towards the sides.
• Allow the glue to dry overnight before removing the clamps.
Make this Router Trammel to Cut Perfect Circles
You can make a simple router trammel out of scrap ¼” or ½” plywood.
• Cut a piece of ply approximately 1″ wider than the width of your router base, and about 6″ longer then the radius (half the diameter) of the circle that you want to make (for this project cut the ply about 30″ long).
• Remove your router’s sub-base, place the router on one end of the trammel board, and trace out the bit opening and the locations for the mounting screws.
• Cut out the hole for the router bit, and then drill and countersink holes for the router’s mounting screws.
• Chuck a ¼” or ½” spiral or straight bit into your router, and attach the router to the trammel with the mounting screws.
• Mark out the radius from the inside edge of the router bit to the other edge of the trammel, and drill a pivot hole. For the pivot you can use a nail, dowel or screw.