After getting a grasp on hand tools and machines in week 1 and 2, we put all our new knowledge to good use this week making a shaker side table. We had to follow a set design (way too difficult to have each student doing their own thing), but we were free to chose whichever wood combination we liked best. Ron gave some good input into what combinations work best, and really helped me to get the most pieces out of the least amount of wood, saving me some $$$ in the end. While all tools are supplied at school, you do have to pay for your own lumber which you can either bring yourself, or buy from the school (rates are competitive with local shops).
The table is 18″ square at the top and includes a 3″ drawer (to be made in a future week). I decided to make mine out of Black Walnut, a favourite wood of mine. While some people like to avoid the light coloured sapwood of walnut, I love the contrast and chose my pieces in order to highlight it. For the drawer front, there was a piece of curly birdseye maple that was just asking to be used.
While this seems like a simple table, it did take most of the week to get all the parts milled to size and all the joinery cut. The aprons of the table are held together with mortise and tenon joints, while the top is held on with screws in oblong holes from the stretchers below. Besides a few screws in the top, everything else is held together with wood glue. The glue up was a little harry as I had a bit of twist to deal with, but nothing that a half a dozen clamps couldn’t fix…
The finish is about 12 coats of blonde shellac, padded on over several days. I may still put a coat of poly or varnish on the top of the table to give it some more durability.
What I really liked about this week was learning all the steps and proper order of operations to be able to finish a project like this. Knowing which parts to cut first and when parts should be finished made a huge difference in completing this project. For instance, the entire table had finish applied before I glued it up, as many of the parts would be hard to access once it was assembled. I also liked how Ron was very approachable with questions on how I might apply these techniques to my own projects down the road.
Next week we’re on to joinery!