Shaker Hall Table ( Making the Top and finish)

If you have come this far to read about this project, let me start by saying thanks for showing interest and reading my blog. This is the final entry about my Shaker Hall Table build. Ill show how I made the Top and then a quick read about the finish I used.

It usually all starts by roughly crosscutting stock to the length. Duh. The Top was going to be 17 1/2″ wide and 30 1/2″ long. Since the board I had on hand was roughly 8″ wide I cut 3 pieces out of the one maple board. I then let the boards sticker on my bench for a bit to acclimate since this board was in my garage for a while. How many days did they acclimate? I left mine stickered for about two days, but the longer the better. This board was pretty dry to start with, so I didn’t worry to much.

Once the boards sat in the basement shop for two days I continued. I started planing the boards flattish on one side if that’s a word, and jointed only the edges that needed jointing for the glue up. I must add that these board where pretty flat to begin with according to my winding sticks. The maple board I used was 4/4 ( roughly 7/8″) thick . Since the top was going to be almost 18″ wide and I had to glue up the top, I decided to leave the boards as thick as possible. I don’t have a thickness planer big enough or a bandsaw that can resaw 18″. Again these boards were pretty flat , so all I did was joint the edges and quickly refine the already flat surface for a rough glue up. This actually worked out great cause after the glue up, by the time I was done planing the top to thickness, and making sure everything is flat I was at roughly 3/4″ . I could have taken the extra time to work on the 3 boards individually before glue up and used my bandsaw, but I didn’t want to deal with the extra work . Also didn’t want to risk screwing up the glue up or having a twist in the board and ending up with less then 3/4″ thickness.

I used liquid hide glue, so I let it dry for a day. Once the top was out of the clamps, that’s when the fun began. I don’t use my scrub plane lots , and this was the perfect opportunity. Again if I would have done the extra work before glue up I probably wouldn’t have had to use the scrub plane, but I didn’t mind. On the side that I planned flat before glue up , I used it as a reference side since when I glued up the boards I made sure it was flat, and that there wouldn’t be too much planing to do after. There wasn’t. All I had to do is get rid of the glue and smooth it a bit , that’s it. On the other side of the now 18″ wide board, it looked a little rougher. If you’d seen the view from the end grain it looked like a zig zag. Again this wasn’t a problem , I just used the scrub plane with the grain to make a valley, then went cross grain with my no 6 . I did use a marking gauge to Scribe my thickness before I went to crazy with my srub plane.

After constantly checking for flatness, which did not take that long, both sides were flat. After this I went over to the bandsaw and rough cut to the 17 1/2″ x 30 1/2″, leaving just enough to clean the surface with the plane. I made sure when planing the endgrain to have a sharp blade, and to plane from both sides, to prevent spelching at the corners.

Now the most time consuming part was done. Next up was Planing a bevel on the underside of the top. Using a square and pencil, I marked a line going 1 1/2″ from the outside edge to the inside, and another line on the ends that went down 1/4″ from the top of the underside. This leaves the top looking more like 1/2″ rather then 3/4″. I then transferred the lines all around the board.

Using my no 62 low angle plane and a freshly sharpened blade I planed the bevel on the underside all around . I plane the bevels on the board with the grain first, then the endgrain to help prevent spelching .

The top was almost done. I went over the whole board with the card scraper,and stamped my makers mark centered on the underside of the top. A while later I found an off cut of cherry in my scrap pile that was already 3/4″ I went to the bandsaw marked out the dimensions for the buttons and cut away. After cutting out the cherry wood buttons on the bandsaw, I refined them with the block plane and chisel once I had the tables frame on the the Lid upside down.

Once I had all the buttons dry fitted , I went and drilled the boles for the screws and countersunk them 1/4″ into the cherry. I had 3/4″ slotted #8 screws , and since my buttons where 1/2″ thick I wanted the screws to go into the top a littler more then 1/4″ . Hence the deep hole for the countersink. The holes where drilled, and the next step was to center the frame on the lid leaving roughly 2″ overhang on the frame all around. Since this table was handmade there was maybe and 1/8″ difference, but nothing anyone would notice. Once everything was in place I used an awl to mark the location of the buttons on the underside of the lid. Then I removed the base and drilled the holes into the lid. The holes in the button are slightly bigger then the screws used ( think of buttons like washers), but the holes drilled into the top cannot be since they hold the top down. This might sound like common sense, but I made the mistake before on a different project where I had drilled all the way through the button into the lid and then the whole was oversized.

Once everything was drilled I test fitted 4 screws and the lid on how it fits, and I was satisfied. Then I Removed the top again and went of to sand.

Sanding one of my favorite things to do. NOT.

So before applying the finish, I went over the whole thing to see if there are any major spots that I may have forgot to scrape, or anything that pops out. There was maybe 3 spots I had to go over again. I sanded the frame, Drawers and top with 220 grit sandpaper, then applied some water to raise the grain and quickly went over with some 320 grit sandpaper. Then I went over the whole piece again with some #0000 Steel wool to give it a nice sheen. I really like the look. The piece was nice and smooth after this . I used Tried and Trued Danish oil as the finish. Using only a little oil applied to a cloth I rubbed the finish in, let it sit for 5-10 min then wiped it off with a clean cloth. Pretty simple. I ended up applying 3 coats of danish oil scuffing with #0000 Steel wool in between coats and waiting a day in between coats.

I am no expert on finishing , and there’s probably better or different ways of applying danish oil. But this was easy for me and worked well. Below are some pictures of the finish table.

Thanks for reading,


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