Friday, November 28, 2014

Stupid Table

Although it has been a couple months (!) since I have posted last, it doesn't mean I haven't been doing any woodworking.

Just not much.

Most notably, I finished our stupid walnut (Juglans nigra) table.  It is not a stupid table, it is just one of those stupid projects that takes years to finish just because it is no fun.  Now that I think about it, it wasn't no fun because it was a dining table, it was no fun because of the particular nature of the walnut I used.  It wanted to tear out no matter which way it was planed.

I did all of the joinery, which included gluing up the top panel, planing it flat, and cutting all of the mortises and tenons by hand at the Army woodshop on the post where I work.

Once that was done, I took all the parts to our Garmisch apartment for assembly and finish.  The Frau helped with several parts of this build, most notably the finishing.

Many of you probably won't approve of our choice of finishes, but we are pretty gentle with our furniture, so we used boiled linseed oil followed by pure beeswax applied with a polisoir.  This is truly an amazing finish on walnut.

The walnut panel resting on top of our old, temporary table. 

This is the underside of the table, which shows some of the tearout I was dealing with.  There also are a couple knot holes that don't go all the way through.
M+T joinery with drawbored pins.  This was the most pleasant part of the build.  I really took my time to make sure these joints all fit together perfect before hammering the pegs home.  The goo is just some paste wax which lubricates and assists the pin when driving home.   I chose to drawbore these joints using no glue at all.  Great choice.  It made for a completely stress free assembly.  Oh, and you might notice the end grain looking weird compared to the face grain.  I laminated 8/4 stock together to make the thick legs, then veneered the faces of the legs that showed the glue line.  It looks awesome.

A close-up of the finished top.
The finish is amazing.  However, it turned out a bit different than we expected.  On the base, we went straight from a planed surface to the BLO, then applied the beeswax with straw burnishers.  On the top, we added the step of burnishing the raw wood before applying any finish.  The base looks just the way we wanted, but the top practically glows in the dark.  It is a bit glossy-er than we envisioned.  It almost looks like French Polish.  We wanted a little bit more of a matte finish.  I have let it set for about six weeks to cure, hoping the gloss would mute over time a little bit like paste wax would, but no luck.  I am thinking we might have to apply something else over the top of the wax to subdue the shine a little.

In other news, I have two unfinished projects sitting on my bench in a state of only needing a little more work until they are finished - the Welsh stick chair and the Shaker side table.  I have some time off to myself this week so I should be able to get them both finished - unless I start another project which is exactly what I did.

I need to get a Christmas gift built, so no time for anything until this is done.  Unfortunately, I left my camera in Garmisch so I have no pictures of this chair yet.  I spent two days at the Dictum shop in Munich working on it, so it is almost done.  Diane talked me into using some lumber I already had rather than buying some new ash or oak for this project.  I'm glad she did.

I had some wenge (Millettia laurentii) intended for something else that I haven't started yet laying around from when I used to think that exotic wood was good to use in every project.  I probably will stay away from using exotics for future hand tool projects, but I had this stuff laying around and it looked like it would make a freaking bad-ass Roorkee.  All of the woodworking is done, and it indeed looks bad-ass.  The leather is almost done, and it looks cool, too.  I am using leather from a whole hide of hair-on leather I got a few months back for exactly this project.  I thought it was going to look kind of silly-western, but with the wenge it looks super refined and swanky.  I can't wait to put a picture of it up.  I've decided to call it Coffee and Cream.  Coffee, because the pile of shavings left from the lathe looked exactly like coffee grounds, and Cream, because the rest of the chair was obviously made from cow, and Coffee and Steak just doesn't have the right ring to it.

It would have been finished yesterday, as I had the whole day to myself (The Frau works on Thanksgiving, being it isn't a German federal holiday).  While I was getting my shop ready for working on the Roorkee, I cut my finger bad enough on a loose tool while rooting around in the trunk of my car to earn a trip to the emergency room.  I sliced a chunk of skin off of the end of my finger.  The slice wasn't terribly big, but it was deep enough that it started to bleed like crazy and wouldn't stop.  Note to self - keep your car clean.

Hopefully, in a day or two I'll be back in the shop and the Roorkee will be in the mail.


  1. I like the finish on that and the smell have been great - boiled linseed oil and bees wax!

    1. Thanks, Kev! It is indeed a fantastic finish. It's just that on this project it is an awful lot of gloss.

  2. Sorry to hear about your finger. Hopefully you'll be fit for work again soon.
    The table looks great.
    Assembling the frame without glue sounds like a super idea. A glue up of this type would otherwise surely involve some sort of panic if I had to do it.

    1. This table is essentially the same as the table I built for the Schwiegereltern out of oak. I glued that one together, and the glue up was decidedly un-fun. This was pleasant, I could take my time, and the drawbore pins are plenty strong enough.

  3. Nice work as always, Glad you've got one of those un-fun projects checked off, I find they weigh me down and prevent me from doing more interesting projects, but often can't be avoided, and get me in a loop of not doing anything.
    My lethargic self would say to give the gloss finish some time, because the surface will either grow on you, or dull on it's own given the less durable surface treatment. or a bit of both. If in 3-6 months it's not where you want it, I'd give it a rub down with steel wool or green pad (after testing in a discreet place to see if it gives the desired effect)
    Can't wait to see this Coffee & Cream Chair of yours, sounds sweet.

    1. Hey thanks, Jeremy! You've described perfectly how this project has been for me. I find once I lose momentum in the shop, it can be a real challenge to get it back. I think I'll take your advice on the finish, and give it another coupla months.

  4. I love that table! Can't wait to see the picture of the chair.