a green, Greene and Greene inspired table

Some projects require a trip out to get new materials, others are made from what you have on hand at the time, for the better – or more often – the worse.

After deciding to throw my hat into the Thorsen Table contest ring, I only intended to make my interpretation as “green” as possible. I wouldn’t be buying any new materials, and hopefully I wouldn’t regret that desicion (and in the end, I surely don’t!)

I like the arts and craft style, and I really like the Japanese influence on it. Ironically, while I like much of the G&G work, I don’t care so much for the cloud lift detail. It’s a little “art deco” for my taste.

My first design decision was to find a new spin on that detail. Perhaps something with a natural edge, or a little rustic. I had a couple of boards in mind, however I wasn’t able to find a way to put it together that I liked, or that I could figure out the logistics of (with the materials and tools I have on hand).

After weeks of pondering, lots of research, and several sketches, I was struck with the reminder of a door I had stored away in the shed. It could have been oak, turns out it was fir (I think). I was happy to have enough of the stock I would need, and that all of it was nice and dead flat. This and some of the slate I had would make a nice table all out of reclaimed materials.

All the lumber in this table, the legs, aprons, rails, lower shelf and even the corner glue blocks are all cut from the old door. No other lumber is mixed in. The aprons are all quartersawn (or rift-sawn), the legs are quartersawn, with veneer hiding the two plain sawn faces.

I used the plan dimensions in the size and contruction of this table, though pulled a little inspiration from the original. While I may have eliminated the cloud lifts, and cut outs of the inspiration piece, I kept the authors addition of ‘quirks’ on the legs, rails and aprons. I also added them to the wood frame that supports the slate top, partially giving the illusion that the top is floating a bit above the surface.

The legs are a hair thinner than the original, and the aprons are thinner, and an inch or more shorter, as well. Overall the piece looks nice and light, though well proportioned and sturdy. The scale of the apron comes right from the rail of the door, the shelf on the bottom is the same size, though I did add supports to the back of those rails so a larger slate shelf could be added. After using a handsaw (see blog) to cut the top, I’m not in a rush to do that again. I’m happy with how the table looks as is, but now that I know there is an easier way…. a larger shelf may prove more functional in time.

The slate top, a little over 14″ square, is cut from a piece of salvaged chalkboard roughly 1/4 thick. This was sanded and waxed. The slate is attached to a 1″ frame that overhangs the legs by about an inch, which looks to be more than the original – which virtually the same overall size as mine.

The top is waxed, the wood – coats of boiled linseed oil and Howards feed and wax.

I mentioned in the project blog that I was surprised how small this table ended up being overall, though it is just the right size to go next to a couch or chair in our living room. From a table I’m likely to never have made, to a great addition to our house – made from the house!


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