Shaker Table, curly maple
Except for its drawer innards (poplar), this table was made from a single board, an exceptional piece of curly maple I got from Kevin Koski (www.curlymaplewood.com) in Williamsfield, OH. Kevin’s an excellent source, his wood is harvested by the Amish in eastern Ohio. This board was originally 2″ x 9″ x 72″. I re-sawed two sections to make the top and aprons, leaving enough thick stock to turn the legs.
In this summer’s extreme humidity, because the original piece was so thick, there must have developed a moisture content disequilibrium between the board’s center and its surfaces. As a result, when it was re-sawn for the top, the two re-sawn pieces had a different moisture content on each surface, leading to considerable warping both along and across the grain. I waited a few weeks for it to settle out, then flattened the pieces to 3/4″ with a hand plane and a little help from my planer. Then they warped some more. Finally got them straight at 11/16″, and beveled for edges 5/8″ thick. Finally it stayed put.
Dyed with Moser’s Golden Amber Maple. To accentuate the figure, a dilute mix of dye was first applied. The figured areas (basically end-grain) gobbled this up while the rest of the surface was much less affected, jump-starting the contrast between the two areas. Then full strength dye was applied and followed by many hand-rubbed coats of a tung oil/linseed oil/varnish mixture.
The table’s design is based on one in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
To create a continuous grain pattern across the entire front, the rails above and below the drawer are veneered with matching grain from the same piece the drawer front came from.
Also, to enable figure in the knob, it was turned with the grain running not along the axis between the lathe's centers but perpendicular to it. A more delicate procedure for a more satisfying result. Otherwise the front of the knob would be characterless end grain.
Click on image to enlarge.
Click on this to blow it up. A once-in-a-lifetime piece of wood.
It's called curly maple for a reason. The chips from cutting the drawer front dovetails went every which way.