Fivebraids Cutting Board Medallion

Fivebraids Custom Woodworking, Inc.

Purveyor of "Things Wooden"

Metter, Georgia


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Fivebraids Cutting Board Medallion

Ambrosia Sugar Maple and Walnut

 Dinette Table


Click on any thumbnail below for full size picture


Ambrosia Maple Table


A local Metter couple came to the shop wanting a small dinette table.  The space the table was to occupy was too narrow for a standard dinette table, so their new table had to be custom built to fit the space.


With dimensions established, it was time to decide what material this table would be built with. The client's original idea was a mix of colors, light and dark, in some sort of alternating or striped pattern.  The client was also leaning towards a 'distressed' look.  We discussed possibly mixing African Mahogany or Walnut (dark), with  some Rock Maple (light).


The clients then saw a scrap of some Spalted Maple I had in the shop that was left over from a mantle we did some years ago.  Their decision was made...they wanted their table made from Spalted Maple.  Well, after more than a week of searching across the country, we were unable to locate suitable lumber for the project. 


What we did find was a nice large slab of Ambrosia Sugar Maple  at "The Wood Yard" in Griffin, GA, about 150 miles north of the shop. I shared pictures of the slab with the client, and after resigning themselves to not being able to get their Spalted Maple, they decided to "settle" on this Ambrosia slab.  Having worked with lots of Ambrosia Maple in the past, I had a feeling their attitude would change when they saw the finished project.


The day the client made their decisions, off I went to visit Rick Wood, the owner of The Wood Yard, up in Griffin.  I picked up the 12' slab, as well as four choice pieces of 16/4 (4" thick) walnut for the tables legs.  Here's the raw material in the shop that night:



The slab wasn't much to look at in its raw unfinished state, but I knew what was hiding below the surface!  After studying the various designs (and defects) in the slab, a decision was made where to split the slab to make the table top.  Here's the top glued up in clamps:


With the top addressed, it was time to move on to the base.  Since the top was almost 2" thick and about 30" wide by 48" long, aside from being quite solid and stout, it was going to be heavy and needed to be well supported. The legs were milled from the rough 4" thick stock down to a finished size of 3" square.  To add support, a 2" thick apron of solid Walnut was made to connect and support the legs.


The legs were mortised to accept the aprons.  The aprons had tenons machined on each end that would fit in the leg mortises.  The tenons were also made oversized and then mitered to meet each other inside the leg mortise.  This is about the strongest joint possible for the leg to apron connection, yielding the longest possible tenons and also maximizing the surface area for gluing.


Dadoes were cut along the top inside of each of the aprons to receive 'table buttons'.  (More on that in a minute.)  And of course, one of our signature medallions was inlaid into one of the aprons.


Mortise and Tenon detail Mitered Mortise and tenon joint
Table base ready for assembly Table base in clamps


 Wood is a living breathing organism that absorbs or gives off moisture as the humidity around it changes.  The top of this table *WILL* move as the seasons change, expanding in width during the humid summer, and contracting during the dryer winter.  If the top were secured to the base with simple screws that attached it in a fixed position, the result would a cracked top when this seasonal movement was restricted by the screws.


The way to prevent this (to the greatest extent possible) is through the use of  'table buttons' to secure the top to the base.  It's quite a bit more work than simply screwing the top to the base, but it gives the table top the best chance of surviving in one piece for many years to come.  The buttons for this table were made from extremely hard Rock Maple, and attached to the underside of the top with solid brass screws.  The buttons fit into the dado that was cut into the aprons, but don't extend all the way into it.  The additional room left will allow for the inevitable expansions and contractions of the top.  Here's a picture showing some of the dozen or so buttons installed:


Here are a few pictures showing the finished table, including the Ogee profile on the edge of the table the client wanted to match the edge of the granite counters that would be on either side of it in their home. 


Oh yeah, and a little something extra...the leftover cutoff from the Ambrosia Maple slab was turned into a lazy susan.  A matching Ogee profile, a walnut base, and rubber feet completed the turntable.


Ambrosia Maple Table Ogee profile
Table with lazy susan Table with lazy susan
Ogee on lazy susan Lazy susan walnut base


And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't give proper thanks to a very good friend of mine, Tod Evans, owner of Mountain Home Woodworking in Mountain Home Arkansas.  Tod was in town helping me out with another project when the time came for this table to be picked up. 


Since the client didn't have any easy means to transport the table home, and they live so close to the shop, we agreed to deliver it for them.  The challenge was that the table had only recently emerged from the finishing room.  The lacquer finish wasn't cured enough to be able to withstand being tied down with the usual ratchet straps.  So Tod volunteered to ride in the back of our truck the few miles to the client's home, providing much needed protection for their new table.


Thanks Tod!


Tod Evans riding with table in truck