Walnut Console Table Build


Not long ago, I bought a large walnut slab with no real intention or idea of what I wanted to do with it; I just really liked the look of the slab. Over several weeks, I played around with some ideas and things I might want to make out of it before I finally settled on an idea. I thought this board would be perfect for a long and narrow console table. However, in my design I wanted to accomplish three main objectives.

First, I wanted my table to be a little different than what I “usually” build; I have done a lot of tapered legs, in classic Shaker style, but I wanted this table to be different. So what I did in this build was to use a very subtle curve in the legs. Not as exaggerated as a cabriole leg, but more subtle and hardly noticeable. I also wanted curved aprons on the table, instead of just straight ones, as I thought this would also add a little elegance to the table.

The second thing I wanted from this project was I wanted a book matched top. I love a book matched top on tables, panels and doors and I try to do this whenever possible. When you can pull it off, it is really an eye catcher. The challenge with doing the book matched top, in this case, leads me to design element number three.

Lastly, I wanted the entire table to come out of the one single board. The board I had was an 8/4 (2" thick) rough sawn board that was roughly 15” wide and about 8’ long. When you start to factor in the length of material required for the legs and the book matched top, you really start to run out of board quickly!

So, let’s take a walk-through of how I pulled this off…

Console Table Parts Layout

The first thing I needed to do in this console table build was to come up with what I wanted the overall dimensions to be. The dimensions I came up with was a table 30” tall by 15” deep by 42” wide/long.

Once I had these dimensions in mind, I could then sketch out the design of the table and get an idea of the part sizes I would need. Next, I went to the actual board I had and used chalk to start to roughly lay out where each piece would come from on this particular board.


Once I was sure I could get all of the parts out of this one board, it was time to break the parts down and do their initial milling. This involved using my jointer to flatten one side, run it through the planer to make the other side parallel to the planed surface and get it to the final thickness. I also joint one edge and use the table saw to cut each piece to their width. Here are all the parts stacked and ready to begin laying out the joints.


Console Table Joinery

The legs and the aprons are joined using mortise and tenon joints. The legs are about 1.25” square and so the tenons are just over ½” long. I use the table saw to cut the tenons and my hollow chisel mortiser for the mortises, but I then fine tune all the joints with hand tools to ensure a perfect fit. Here you can see my mess of hand tools with the legs and aprons dry fit in the back.


Once I had the mortise and tenon joints complete, I could cut the curve in the aprons and dry fit the base.


As you can see in the photo above, I have not yet curved the legs in any way at this point in the build. It is best to do that after you have ensured the mortise and tenon joints are done; it just makes that process so much easier.

Shaping the Legs

Once all of the base joinery was complete and dry fit, I could turn my attention to shaping the legs. What I wanted to do here was kind of a reverse cabriole leg in a way. Instead of having a knee that kicks out, I wanted the leading edge to curve in. So, I made a template (which I can’t find anymore!) and traced that onto the legs and cut them out on the bandsaw.

Next, I used my card scraper and spokeshave to clean up the saw marks.


Once all four legs were done, I re-assembled the base so I could get a sense of what it would look like.


In this above photo, you can see the very slight curve in the legs, but you will see it even more in the final photos below. First, we need to make this amazing book matched top!

Console Table Book Matched Top

I love the look of a book matched top on a desk or table, of any kind. For this console table, this was the one thing I really wanted to make sure I nailed, above anything else. So, what I needed to do was, during my parts layout from above, make sure I chose from a section of the board that would have some interesting grain. And, to keep the top flat, I wanted to utilize breadboard ends on the top. Now, these breadboards were not really necessary for a console table of this size, but I thought it would add an interesting design element to the top as well.

So, first I needed to cut my selected section of the board for the top, in half, on the bandsaw and glue it up. Here is the top in the clamps.


What do you think of that grain? I think it is pretty cool, and will look better with the oil on it at the end.

Now, I’m going to skip over the breadboard portion of the build, mainly because I didn’t get any photos of it; I was too wrapped up in the process I guess. It happens a lot. So, let’s go to the finish and the beauty shots!

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