Guy’s Woodshop: Sunburst Table
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Guy Dunlap, and I have been a woodworker for long as I can remember. I fell in love with the craft when I was in junior high school, and I have been building furniture since. I treated woodworking as a hobby for many years, and then in the late 1990s I opened my own shop and started a business making custom furniture. While I enjoyed the freedom and fulfillment it gave me, it was not as financially rewarding as I hoped it would be. So after a few years of trying very hard to make it work, I realized I would have to go back to a regular job and make furniture as a hobby again.
Recently, Ben Strano at Fine Woodworking contacted me and asked if I would be interested in doing a guest blog for the Fine Woodworking website. I have been a subscriber of the magazine and website for many years, and have drawn a lot of inspiration and learned many techniques from Fine Woodworking, so of course I saw this as a great opportunity.
My wife decided that she wanted me to build a table that will sit between two chairs in our family room. The piece would need to have a 24-in.-dia. round tabletop and be about 26 in. high. After a couple of rough (very rough) sketches, I came up with a design and material selection, then got approval from my design consultant (my lovely wife, Judy) to move forward with the project.
The top will be a sunburst design using some spectacular cherry crotch veneer and curly maple veneer for the border and edge. Since the top is going to be the focal point of the piece, I will be using shopsawn flat-cut maple veneer for the skirt. I was also very lucky to find in my lumber rack some 8/4 maple stock with some very nice, straight grain that I could pull the legs from. The legs will also be turned round with very few extra details so as not to take away from the top.
I started searching FineWoodworking.com for articles that fit the project, and would also allow me to try some new techniques. The first was an article by Mark Arnold “How-To Veneer a Sunburst.” It fit in well with my design, and gives me an opportunity to build on some of my skills working with veneer. I have worked with veneer before, but not at this level, so it is really going to challenge me.
Since the skirt of my table needs to be perfectly round, laminating the skirt is not an option because of having to deal with springback. I found an article by Kirt Kirkpatrick, “Forming Curves from Layers of Blocks,” detailing a method of “bricking” the skirt. I have seen this method before, however I have never attempted it. The article lays out in great detail how to perform the process and gave me the confidence to use this method for this build. I will be doing a few things differently, but the basic process is the same.
With the design work done, and with the materials in hand, I’m excited to start this build. I will be posting regular progress of the build on my Instagram account and also posting instructional videos on my YouTube channel. I hope you’ll follow along with me as I try some new techniques.