Next on the list of furniture to build for our house was a dining table. I already wrote about the start of this project, buying the lumber and rough cutting it. Since then I finished the project.
This was my first time working with cherry. I found it nice to work with, although it did seem to tear out more easily than other woods I’ve used.
I was most worried about gluing up the top. Obviously on a table, it’s important for the top to be flat and preferably smooth. The top does still have some tearout and plane tracks that I couldn’t eliminate, and a couple of dips here and there. I’m hopeful that day to day wear on the table will even out some of these spots. Doing the whole project with hand tools was a challenge, but overall I’m very happy with how easily it went. As I kept gluing more boards onto the top, it got very heavy and difficult to deal with by myself, but I managed. The bottom side of the top was left very rough, I only worked it where I needed to to get the frame to fit well. The frame was attached to the top with wood buttons cut from scrap.
This was also my first time doing breadboard ends. For the tenons, I used a straightedge to guide my saw to cut the initial kerf, then knocked off most of the waste with a 1″ chisel before cleaning up the tenon with a rabbet block plane. The shallow parts of the mortise was cut with a plough plane, with my mortising chisel clearing out the deeper parts. I wish the exposed ends of the breadboard tenon had been tighter and cleaner looking.
The base is typical table drawbored mortise and tenon construction. I tapered the legs with a saw and hand planes. After transporting the pieces home, I broke all the edges with a block plane, did a little final smoothing, and then applied four coats of amber shellac. I plan to put a coat of urethane on top of that to help protect against alcohol spills, but haven’t had time to do so yet.
One thing I’m most pleased with is how quickly this project came together. I purchased the wood on December 31st and had the project finished in our house on April 20th, so a little less than 4 months. That’s a pretty good turnaround for me, considering I only work evenings and weekends as time allows. I’m also eager to see how the cherry ages in my dining room, which gets quite a lot of light.