Walnut Table

This table was made on 24th January 2016 from plans in a woodworking magazine that I got for Christmas that year, which labelled it as a blanket bench and used pocket holes. I tweaked the design to suit what I had stock-wise, but otherwise the credit goes to the magazine’s contributor.

I ended up using 4 different types of wood for this build. I had originally purchased the 1″ thick walnut plank (below) from Catford Timber for another project, it was about 2.3 m long and cost around £35-40. They planed it for me (the snipe marks are from them) and cut it in half so that I could get it in my car. When I saw the grain pattern on this, I thought it would be criminal to cut it up further so I set it aside for the right project to come along.

I had lots of stock from my grandad’s garage and from a recent eBay haul – fortunately, the seller I bought a large bundle of oak from was also selling the rest of his stock as he was moving his workshop. Driving to north London was easy, coming back with 2 of us in the car with large lengths of heavy hard wood and delicate veneer was slightly more subdued!

The magazine’s plans were very straightforward and I didn’t take any other photos than shown here, unfortunately. Some of the wood I used was thicker than the magazine suggested. I used walnut for the top, cherry for the bottom shelf (which I had cut from a larger length from the generous chap in Wembley; I managed to score four 3-4′ lengths of 3″ x 6″ for a measly £20 among others!), sapele and iroko for the sides (from grandad’s garage). I did this from two woods because I didn’t have a wide/tall enough board but I also wanted to vary it somewhat.

This was my first go at pocket hole joinery and I decided it is essentially cheating. It’s also extremely satisfying and effective and I enjoyed this build. For hiding the screw holes, they recommend cutting plugs and inserting them, sanded flat. I didn’t bother as they are all hidden from view. I think if I was to build this again, I wouldn’t leave the hole in the top (to carry it, they say) but I would still probably use pocket holes. Filling the holes would make repairs, modifications and the ability to take it apart without damaging it very difficult. I have since purchased a plug cutter for the pocket holes so that I can use the same piece of wood to plug the holes and not rely on the poor quality ones normally supplied with packs of screws.

My favourite bit is usually the illuminating effect you get when you oil a good bit of timber. Let there be grain! The cherry always responds well to it. Looking at it now in 2018, I would have kept the two knots together so as to preserve the bookmatched appearance. You can’t see much of the bottom shelf in use anyway, so no biggie.

The top came out particularly well. Reminds me of my dad’s old Triumph dashboard, except without the rust and splinters.

Here it is fully assembled in our newly acquired downstairs living room before we moved out. We weren’t in it for long so we never really settled in – excuse the mess. Notice in the background the WW1 German 210 mm Morser 10 case (our bin) and the German 77 mm FK 16 case housing the ceramic poppy as seen at the Tower of London – I wanted a German case for the poppy for the irony. Finding these without any “trench art” features is extremely rare nowadays; these were as-fired. So many people have created vases or otherwise bastardised the originals after the war(s) now that you aren’t actually getting so called trench art. Far better to stick to the plain ones in my opinion… I digress.

In a future project I will probably widen the table, insert some strips between the two wide boards and the thin boards and blank out the hole. I will put a link between the two projects when it’s done if I remember.

It’s now pride of place in our new house’s living room, decorated with all sorts of interesting antiques, candles and a light. Careless, unsupervised use has seen it take some surface damage from cups, water and the like, but I’ll see to this when I get around to filling the centre in. Comments and suggestions on how to go about this are welcome!

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