Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Dining table and benches are now finished and looking lush

I have finished the matching benches for the dining table that I recently finished.
Here's the completed dining set.

The colours are looking well good in the low evening light. This table will seat six in comfort on the two benches and eight if needed by rocking up extra chairs at the end.

All the wood in here is satisfyingly either reclaimed from scrap or from raw logs, which I have ripped down myself into planks, seasoned and planed. That's a good feeling. Just about two months to complete too, so not too long in the making really.

There are various types of wood in use here. Specifically reclaimed from:
  • One english oak mantle piece beam of about 6' 6"
    used for the table legs and the lightest of the table top mitred trim
  • Two mahogany (or mahogany-like wood like sapele) mantle piece beams that were even bigger
    used in the outer planks of the table, for the bench seats and the main central core of the bench legs
  • Spalted beech (beech with nice fungal discolouration), which I found as logs and ripped into planks with a chainsaw and seasoned for 8 months
    this is the tigery stuff, used for the central decorative panel on the table top, the end-cladding on the bench legs, the drawer fronts and as an inlay in the table base cross-rails.
  • A door from an old broken specimen cupboard door, which may be something called Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata), which is a hardwood similar to mahogany with an incredible play-doh like smell. This apparently repels insects
    used for the inner broad dark framing  round the central decorative panel on the table-top and for the drawer frames and the upper cross-rails of the bench leg-pillars
  • An unknown light tropical hardwood from the wooden frame of an old sofa
    used for the central rails of the lower I-brace of the table frame that gives the legs stability and for the lower cross-rails of the bench leg-pillars
  • Some dense dark hardwood planks from a broken garden bench, possibly teak
    Used for the cross-rails of the  I-brace and for the drawer front frames which the drawers fit into  
  • Some common beech from the same sofa frame
    used for the lengthwise cantilever braces that stabilise the joint between the bench seat-planks and the bench leg-pillars
  • Some oak-faced plywood from the back-panel of an old bookcase
    used for the drawer bottom panels
  • Some blockboard panels from old library shelves
    used for the main supporting bed of the central table-top panel (this is the only wood not visible)
  • There are also some reclaimed beech dowels from old IKEA furniture
    used for  strengthening the butt joints between blockboard panels in the table bed and to anchor the bench leg-pillars into the seating plank

Glowing nicely

The lovely tiger-striped wood is spalted beech. This discolouration caused by fungal colonisation after felling gives random curving swirls of light and dark. The curves soften up the more rigid patterns of the mitred rectangles and T-shaped joints.

This is most obvious on the table-top in the central decorative panel. It is also used on the ends of the bench legs to clad the darker central upright, as the decorative face on the draw fronts and as an inlay in the cross-rails in the lower I-frame bracing that stabilises the table legs

The basic design is contrasting light and dark woods brought together with the light-and-dark beech

All the woods are pulled together by the amber colouration from using naturally pigmented shellac in the French polish that the set is finished with. This makes any wood look lush. It is a transparent shell that lets light through to bounce back mellowed with a lovely warm glow.

This low view is one side of the table at drawer-level showing the beautiful range of light to dark ambers this gives.

The same view on the otehr side of the table, with its equivalent matching bench.

The drawer frames inside are also polished so when pulled out, they too blend into the colour scheme. They are made from the same mahogany-like tropical wood in the wide bands of the table top.

There is one drawer per seating. This is in case the drawers are used for hiding gifts for diners. Most of the time though, they will be full of handy things like scissors and stuff I suspect. They are deep enough to house about 4 bottles of wine per drawer!

The hand-painted ceramic handles are the only manufactured parts of the build . I thought about making wooden ones, but these look great. There are also some screws and nails used in the drawers and to hold the table top onto the base, which can be dismantled for moving.

The table top, table base and benches are all held together simply by the strengths of the wood-working  joints

From the side view, you get a slightly different pattern mix of straight and curving lines of light and dark amber.

Another view of the drawer fronts and bench

Ditto on the other side. I like the flow of lines across all three drawers, like something on Jupiter's atmosphere.

The top is hard to photograph as it has a high gloss from the French polishing.

I took this standing on one of the benches. The bench planks are strong. These I think may be mahogany (although whether they are true Honduran mahogany, I'm not sure)


  1. Just amazing.

    1. Thanks - there are some more posts about the various component builds like the table top further down the blog

    2. Thank you. I've been following this and other projects you've done. Sorry it's taken so long for me to say something. You're an inspiration.