The table design is inspired by the furniture of brothers Charles and Henry Greene born around the 1860’s. The Greene brothers architectural and furniture design peaked during the years 1902-1910. It was during this period that they created some of their finest works which includes the Gamble and Blacker residences in Pasadena, California. The brothers not only designed the homes but they also designed some of the furniture and built-in features of their houses. They primarily used mahogany wood with unique joinery details in ebony.
This table was designed by William Ng of Southern California. William conducts woodworking classes and instructs students in the making this and other G & G inspired projects. Visit http://wnwoodworkingschool.com/ to find out more about his classes.
I inherited this project from a fellow woodworker who passed away shortly after taking William’s class. I completed this table at the request of his partner. My Instructables is not based on William’s construction methodologies . I am sure I would have been more efficient had I taken his class.
The footprint of this table is 12 1/2” deep and 53 5/8” long. The top overhangs on all sides and measures 16 ¼” deep and 56 5/8” long. The table includes three drawers. The best mahogany available today is from Honduras and is referred to as “genuine mahogany”. It is expensive and runs between $10-15 a board foot and can be difficult to find. African Mahogany is more readily available and is cheaper ($6-8 a board foot) but it is more difficult to work and is generally a little darker in color and is more prone to grain tear-out.
The primary construction method is mortise and tenon joinery. The top utilizes breadboard ends for stabilization.
This project requires basic woodworking skills and access to woodworking machines. Woodworking machines have sharp cutting edges and are NOT forgiving. You should be properly trained in the use of these machines. Ensure that you wear safety glasses and hearing protection, use push sticks, hold-downs , clamps and a cutting sled to cut the project parts safely.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being very difficult, this project is a “7 ½ “.
- Approximately 6 board feet of 2” rough sawn thick mahogany (One board 2” x 8” x 72”) for leg stock.
- Approximately 20 board feet of 1” thick rough sawn mahogany (Top, aprons, drawer fronts, dividers, stretchers and panels).
- Approximately 4 board feet of ¾” maple (drawers sides, backs and runners).
- 2” x 2” x 24” ebony blank
- 150 to 220 grit sandpaper and 0000 steel wool.
- Yellow woodworkers glue
- Minwax Wipe-On Poly varnish and Minwax Red Mahogany oil stain
Tools & Equipment Utilized:
- Table saw with a crosscut sled
- Router table and router bits
- Band saw
- Mortising machine
- Drill press
- 8” jointer
- Planner and/or drum sander
- Block and jointer planes
- Bar, pipe and toggle clamps
Step 1: Materials List
Step 2: Stock Preparation for the Legs
Each leg has a different set of joinery for the aprons, stretchers, drawer rails and side panels. Any variations in leg dimensions or square will cause you significant problems down the road.
Use a bandsaw and rough cut the leg stock to 1 ¾” widths and 31” long. This is longer than is needed but it is always better to have a little longer stock to work with.
Use a jointer and make one side flat on each of the 8 leg blanks. Mark the squared side. Use a thickness planner or a drum sander and make the other side parallel to first side. Reduce the thickness to about 1 5/8”. Go back to the jointer and make a perpendicular side square to the flat sides.
Return to the planner or drum sander and make the opposite side parallel.
Reduce the legs to 1 ½” square using a drum sander. Start with 120 grit and work up to with 180 grit. Use a sanding block with 220 grit for a final sanding after the joinery is cut.
NOTE: African mahogany has interlocking grain and is prone to tear out when using a jointer and planner. Take very shallow cuts and use a drum sander to avoid tear out. Mahogany is also on the soft side and scratches easily and pencil marks can leave indentions. This is why you want to leave the stock a little proud until all the joinery is completed before final sizing to 1 ½”.
Step 3: Layout the Joinery for the Legs
NOTE: The position and size of each mortise is critical. Take pains to ensure that they are marked correctly and that they align with the other mortises.
Set all the legs on your workbench and determine the best outside faces and mark them. You need to mark the positions of the mortises on each leg. The center sets of legs have mortises on 3 faces. The outer set of legs have mortises on 2 faces. Although the placement of the mortises are consistent, the lengths are different. Each leg will either have a different set of mortises or the placement of the mortises will be reversed. It is best if each leg is marked to ensure that the joinery is cut accurately. Measure twice and cut once is the woodworkers motto!
All the stretchers and panels are ¾” thick. All the mortises are 3/8” wide, leaving a 3/16” shoulders on the sides, top and bottom of the mortises. The length of the mortises depends on the stretchers or panel widths. All the mortises should be cut no more than 7/16” deep.
The front legs are connected with 3 sets of top and bottom drawer rails and a series of bottom stretchers.
The back is constructed with solid aprons and bottom stretchers.
The sides utilize frame and panel construction on the top which requires an additional ¼” groove in the legs to accept the panel.
The two sets of center legs also have mortises for the drawer dividers.
Step 4: Cut Mortises in Legs
Four legs have mortises on 3 sides. In order to ensure a strong joint, the mortises should be no deeper than 7/16”, otherwise they will intersect with each other.
Notice that the mortises made with a router bit will leave round ends. When you make the loose tenons, you should round over the edges to better fit the mortises.
Step 5: Leg Indent and Router Jig
The indent is 1” wide and 4 ½” long. The depth of the indent at the bottom edge is 1/8” and becomes shallower as it progresses up the leg until it disappears and melds into the face if the leg.
You will need to make a jig to produce the indent. The jig is made from ¼” MDF and 5/8” x 1 3/8” x 12” maple. The slot in the MDF top is 1 1/8” wide to allow for the offset of the router guide bushing.
There is a ¼” block set 12” from the edge of the jig. This block elevates the far end of the jig. This will produce a slopping cut that will meld into the upper portion of the leg stock. The leg fits into the jig between the two fences set 1 ½” apart. I screwed a stop block on the end that registers the end of the leg so that each recess is positioned the same.
Clamp the leg into the jig and clamp the jig and leg onto your workbench. Make sure that the end of the leg contacts the end of the jig.
I used a ½” router bit with the guide bushing. Place the router on the jig and set the depth of cut to 1/8” at the end of the jig.
NOTE: Always make test cuts before you use the actual leg stock in order to correctly set the depth of cut.
Start routing in a counter clockwise direction from the top of the jig and work to the end of the leg and back up the other side. Make sure that the guide bushing is pushed against the jig slot as you follow around the jig. Go back over the inside of the slot to catch areas that were missed during the initial pass.
Step 6: Stock Preparation for the Aprons, Dividers, Rails & Stretchers
During the milling process keep the stock as long a possible but in lengths that you are comfortable to work with. I choose to mill boards that are shorter than 5’.
Use chalk or pencil and mark witness lines across the face of the rough wood. The witness lines will indicate high and low spots until the entire face is flat.
Use a jointer and flatten one face of each piece of wood. Use a planner or drum sander to make the opposite face parallel.
Now that you have clean faces to work with you can easily identify the grain patterns and determine the best pieces of wood to use for each part. The objective is to choose pieces that will provide you the best visual appearance.
Top: The top is about 16” wide so you will need 2 or 3 boards to edge glue to achieve 16” width. The boards should be about 5’ long. Color and grain match is critical since the top is the highlight of the table. You will also need to select straight grain pieces for the two breadboard ends.
Drawer fronts: The second most visible part of this table are the drawer fronts. You should consider one piece of wood that the three drawer fronts can be cut from, so when assembled it looks like a continuous board. This will also help ensure consistent color and grain pattern. NOTE: The drawers parts are not cut to their final sizes until the base is assembled.
Back aprons: Although the back of the table may be against a wall you should apply the same selection process as the drawer fronts.
Rails & Stretchers: These are only 1 1/8” to 1 ½” wide so the best stock for these parts would be straight grained.
Side panels: These are close to the same size as the right and left back panels but are only ¼” thick. I selected one piece of wood and re-sawed it on the bandsaw to create the two panels. Visual appeal is important since the sides will be highly visible.
After selecting the boards for each part write an identifier on each board to ensure you have accounted for each part and also for quick identification.
Step 7: Cut Aprons, Dividers, Rails & Stretchers to Final Width
Once the wood has been selected, square one edge of each board using a jointer. Mark the edge for reference.
Organize the boards according to their final width. For consistency you should cut all the boards of the same final width at the same time.
Use a table saw and cut the boards to width.
TIP: I always cut the width about 1/32” wider so I can clean up the saw marks with a hand plane.
Step 8: Cut Aprons, Dividers, Rails & Stretchers to Final Length
Organize the boards that will be cut to the EXACT same length and stack them together.
Measure and mark one board from each stack. Line the mark with the saw blade and set the stop block accordingly to ensure that all the boards in that stack are cut to the same length.
Place the joined edge against the crosscut sled fence and the square end against the stop block and start cutting each piece to length.
Repeat this process for each stack.
You should have all the component parts for the table base cut to their exact widths and lengths.
Step 9: Cutting the Mortises in the Aprons, Drawer Dividers, Rails & Stretchers
The depth of cut is ¾” for the aprons, drawer dividers, stretchers and rails.
Layout the mortise on an end of one piece for each of the different parts (drawer rails, stretchers, drawer dividers and back aprons).
I used a horizontal router to cut the mortises.
I setup the machine with hold-downs and made a test cut on a sample piece. Once satisfied with the setup, I cut all the mortises for that set of parts and then moved to the next setup until all the pieces were mortised.
Step 10: Glue Loose Tenons
I cut long strips of plywood to the width of the various mortises then used a drum sander to reduce the plywood thickness to fit the mortises. On wide tenons a cut a series of 1/16” deep grooves to allow for glue squeeze-out.
Once the plywood was sized to the correct thickness I cut them to the 1 1/8” long using the cross cut sled on the table saw.
Use yellow woodworkers glue and evenly spread it into a mortise and tap it down to bottom it out.
Use clamps to ensure the tenons are seated and let set at least a couple hours.
The are multiple parts that are the same size. In order to ensure that each part is placed in its appropriate position during glue up, I label the exposed tenons with a fine felt tipped marker to identify the part and its orientation.
Step 11: Cut the Mortises for the Cabinetmakers Buttons
I made the buttons from ¾” maple 1 ½” long and 1 ¼” wide.
Mill several strips of ¾” maple 1 ¼” wide, 18” long.
Cut the tongue on the table saw. In cutting the shoulders of the tongue, I set the fence to ¼” and the saw blade height to 3/16” and ran the face of the strips through the saw blade on both sides. Since my blade is 1/8” wide this cut will produce a 3/8” tongue.
Reset the fence to 1/8” and the blade height to 5/16” and run the strips on edge to cut off the waste. This should produce a ¼” thick, 3/8” wide tongue along the edge of the strip.
Use a crosscut sled on the table saw and set a stop block at 1 ½”. Slice the strip in 1 ½” lengths.
Drill a countersunk hole in the blocks. Chamfer the edges with sand paper or a block plane.
The two top side rails and the inside faces of the two drawer dividers have two ¼” wide 2” long grooves cut in them. Position the buttons flush to the top edge of these pieces and mark the position of the tongue. This is the position of the grooves.
Use a router table to cut the mortises for the buttons. The mortises should be 3/8” deep.
Step 12: Side Construction: Rails & Panels
A ¼” x ¼” groove needs to be made in the leg and top and bottom side rails. On a table saw set the blade height and fence at ¼”.
Using a scrap piece of ¾” stock left over from cut offs from the stretchers make a test cut. Flip the piece end-to-end and make another cut. This process will automatically center the groove in the rail. Make blade height or fence adjustments as necessary. You want the panel to fit snug but not a force fit.
When satisfied with the result, run both sets of side rails through the saw.
Step 13: Cut Groove in Leg for Side Panels
To cut the ¼” groove in the two sets of outside legs I used the router table. Use a ¼” router bit set at ¼” high.
In order to accurately layout the panel groove in the leg, set either the top or bottom side rail in the leg mortise and mark the position of the groove on the leg. Use that mark to set the router table fence.
The start and end of the groove are the mortises. Mark the limits on the top of the leg. Use tape on the router table fence to set the router bit edges.
NOTE: Hold the leg tight to the fence during the cut otherwise the bit may follow the wood grain and not cut straight.
Lower the leg on the router bit and cut the groove. Turn off the router while maintaining pressure against the fence. Lift leg off router bit once rotation stops.
Step 14: Mortises for Ebony Pegs
The placement of these square pegs is at the intersection of the mortise and tenon joints. On the center sets of legs the are two square pegs at each mortise/tenon location. On the outside legs there is only one peg for each mortise and tenon joint.
Mark the location of the pegs on the legs.
I used a mortising machine with a ¼” mortising chisel/drill. The mortise is drilled ¼” deep.
Make all the peg mortises.
Do a final sanding of all four faces of the legs. Once the pegs are in place it will be harder to sand the leg faces.
Step 15: Make the Ebony Pegs
I made a sawing jig to hold the ebony strip so I could cut the pegs to a consistent length. I use a small backsaw to make the cuts.
I used a small block of wood and used the mortising machine to cut a ¼” mortise. I then slightly enlarged the hole with a chisel. I used this as a holder so I could ease the back edges on a sanding block.
I then flip the square peg over and chamfered the four edges of the face of the peg. This is for decorative purposes only.
I also created a block with a 1/16” dado to use to set the height of each pin.
I spread a small amount of glue into the mortise and placed the peg into the hole.
I then set the block with the 1/16” dado over the pin and with a hammer set the peg to height. When there were two pegs I set them at the same time.
Clean up any glue squeeze-out. Make sure no glue residue is left around the pegs because it will not accept the stain or finish.
Round over the edges of the pegs with 180 and then 220 grit sandpaper. The top of the pegs should have a “pillow” top, soft round-over edges and a high center.
Step 16: Dry Fit Assemblies
It is not unusual to have to trim the tenons to ensure alignment.
Make any adjustments to the tenons as necessary.
Step 17: Gluing the Boards for the Top
Mill the wood flat and square. I used 3 pieces of wood and edge glue them together.
After drying overnight I ran the top through a drum sander to remove any glue squeeze-out and to flatten the surface.
I cut the top to its final length using a crosscut sled on the table saw.
Step 18: Cutting the Tongue in the Top
The tongue is cut on the table saw. You can setup a dado blade or use your standard blade.
Mark ½” on the end of the board. Using a cutoff from the top, mark the ¼” tongue centered on the cutoff.
Use the cut off to set the height of the blade, approximately ¼”. Use a scrap piece of wood and measure the depth of cut to ensure it is correct.
Setup a stop block on the crosscut sled that will position the saw kerf ½” from the end of the table top.
Hold the top flat on the crosscut sled and make the shoulder cut across the board. Move the board was from the stop block by a little less than the saw blades thickness and make another cut to remove waste. Repeat the process until all the waste is removed.
Turn the board over and repeat this process on both edges.
The saw blade will leave a saw kerf pattern on the tongue. Use a shoulder plane to clean off the tongue on both sides. Use the saw kerfs as a depth guide so you evenly plane the surface.
The thickness of the tongue should be consistent from front to back. Be careful to remove the same amount of material from both sides so the tongue remains centered in the top.
Step 19: Cutting the Groove in the Breadboard End
Therefore the groove in the breadboard end is NOT centered.
Select the best side of the board as the top side and mark it. You want to make the cuts with the bottom side of the breadboard end against the fence.
Use the tongue to mark the position of the groove in the breadboard. The groove will be cut ¼” wide and 9/16” deep.
You can cut the groove on a router table or a table saw. Although it will take a couple of cuts, I use the table saw because it allows me to sneak up on an exact fit.
Use a scrap piece of wood to set the table saw fence. Make a test cut and compare it to the position of the tongue. Make sure both are lying flat on the same surface. Make adjustments as necessary.
When satisfied with the fence setting, run both breadboards through the table saw.
Reset the table saw fence for another cut. Use the same sample board and run it through the saw blade. Continue making successive cuts until the groove fits over the tongue.
Step 20: Cutting the Breadboard Grooves for the Inlays
Layout the 5 inlays on the edge and transfer the marks to the face of the board.
Place a piece of white tape on the router table and mark the width of the router bit. These marks establish the start and end points of the cuts.
Mark a ¼” layout line on the end of the breadboard. Set the breadboard against the router table fence and move the fence so the bit is centered between the layout lines. Make a test cut and make adjustments to center the cut.
The breadboard must be held firmly against the fence.
Lift one end of the breadboard and carefully set it over the running router bit. Move the board back and forward to the marked lines. DO NOT go past the lines.
Lift the board up carefully and move to the next set of marks. Repeat until all the grooves are cut.
There is also an ebony spline on the ends of the breadboard that align with a stopped groove on the edge of the table top. This groove is centered in the edge of the table top but is offset on the end of the breadboard. I cut these grooves on the router table.
Step 21: Making the Top: Breadboard Ends
The 2 outside holes are oversized to allow for wood movement. The center hole is sized to fit the screw.
The inlays are ¼” ebony and vary in length from 2 ½” to ½”. The lengths of the inlays are discretionary.
Line up both breadboards in a vise and mark the ends of the grooves so they are consistent. Adjust the length of the grooves as necessary and square the ends with a chisel.
Step 22: Finishing the Top
In regards of the top, the breadboard ends are proud of the top. I was concerned about the build-up of the polyurethane where the breadboard joins the top so I applied the stain and wipe-on poly to the top before attaching the breadboard ends.
The breadboard end is not glued to table top tongue. Applying stain to the tongue is fine but avoid a build-up of the wipe-on poly on the tongue’s shoulder. You want the breadboard to seat tight against the shoulder when screwed in place.
Step 23: Assemble the Top & Breadboard Ends
Position the breadboard so that both the ends overhang the top 1/8”. Place the screws through the holes in the breadboard and mark the positions of the corresponding screw holes by lightly taping the screws.
Remove the breadboard and use a 3/32” drill bit for the screw holes in the tongue.
Replace the breadboard ends and screw the two pieces together. DO NOT USE GLUE. THE BREADBOARD END NEEDS TO MOVE WITH SEASONAL CHANGES.
Make sure the breadboard end is tight to the shoulder of the tongue.
Cut ebony strips for each groove. Spread glue into the grooves and position the ebony inlays.
I cut a 1/16” deep groove in a scrap pieces of wood to use as cauls to clamp the inlays. Use a 3 way edge clamp with cleats to protect the finished surfaces. I clamped each inlay separately.
Step 24: Finishing the Top
The breadboard ends were then attached to the top and the ebony inlays were inserted and sanded to create a pillow effect.
I taped off the top and applied 3 coats of wipe-on poly to the breadboard ends. I used 0000 steel wool to remove dust nibs between coats.
Step 25: Pre-Finish the Component Parts
Make sure that all the component parts have been hand sanded to 220 grit. Wipe down all the parts with mineral spirits (paint thinner) prior to applying stain.
Apply blue painters masking tape to all the exposed tenons. You don’t have to worry about the leg mortises since neither the stain nor wipe-on poly will be applied heavy enough to drip into the mortises.
I drilled two 7/64” holes in the ends of the legs to set finish nails. This provided a way to set the legs across 2 sets of saw horses for applying the finishes on all the faces.
I set all the other parts on risers to ensure that they were suspended so I could apply finish to all the surfaces.
Use a clean cotton cloth and apply the stain. I used stain to ensure an even color across all the pieces.
I used Minwax Red Mahogany oil stain.
I applied 2 coats 24 hours apart.
I then used 0000 steel wool to smooth the surfaces of any dust nibs. All the surfaces were wiped clean
with a tack cloth before applying the next coat.
I then applied three coats of Minwax Wipe-on Poly allowing the finish 24-48 hours to set before
applying subsequent coats. I used 0000 steel wool between coats and wiped the surfaces with a tack
cloth before the next coat was applied.
Step 26: Clamping & Gluing
It is important to think through the assembly process to ensure tight joints, accurate positioning of component parts and a square table base.
Working on a flat level surface is important to ensure that all the legs are registered to the same base level.
All the drawer rails and stretchers need to be aligned and squared to the legs.
The most effective methodology in assembling the table is to do it in sub-assemblies and then glue the assemblies together one at a time.
I assembled the table base in the following order:
Glued up the two sides as separate assemblies.
- Glued up the front center section.
- Glued up the back center section.
- Assembled and glued the front and back center sections with the drawer dividers.
- Assembled and glued a side, back apron, stretchers and drawer rails to the center assembly.
- Assembled and glued the other side, back apron, stretchers and drawer rails to the other two assemblies.
Step 27: Clamping Jigs & Gluing Sub-Assemblies
I used toggle clamps to position and hold the legs square and flat against the jig base.
I taped felt to cover the edges of the cleats that the stretchers, rails or aprons would be clamped.
I staged all the parts before starting the glue-up.
I did a dry assembly to familiarize myself with the process and positioned all the required clamps. I checked to make sure that all the joints seated tightly and were square.
I glued one side together and then glued the back center section using the other jig.
I repeated this process for the other side and the front center section.
At this point I had both sides and the front and back of the center section glued.
Step 28: Gluing the Center Section
I positioned the assembly against the fences of center section jig to ensure the assembly would be square.
To complete the center section all that was necessary was to attach the two drawer dividers to the front and back of the center section. The critical issue is to ensure that it was glued square.
I first did a dry assembly to rehearse the clamping sequence.
I spread glue into the mortises of the back section and on the tenons of both dividers. I inserted them into the back section. I then spread glue into the mortises of the front section and attached it to the dividers.
I place the back of the center section against the jig fence and secured clamps from the legs to the base of the jig to ensure that the assembly was flat. I then placed clamps to tighten the dividers to the leg assemblies.
I then placed another set of clamps on the front legs to the base, once again to ensure the front assembly was flat against the jig.
I used a Veritas® Bar Gauge Heads to measure the diagonal between the inside corners to ensure that the assembly was square.
The assembly dried overnight.
Step 29: Assembly & Clamping Platform
There is a 1 ¼” fence on the back edge and on one end of the platform. I taped felt to the fence to prevent scratching the legs.
I placed the platform across two saw horses to elevate it to a good working height and also to allow clamps to be tightened below the platform.
This platform provided a way to ensure that all the parts would be glued flat.
Step 30: Gluing Center and Side Assemblies Together
Clamps are positioned to draw the side, stretchers and drawer rails tight to the center section as well as applying downward pressure to ensure that the side, back apron and drawer rails lie flat on the platform.
Clamps also are positioned to pull both units against the fences to ensure square alignment of the two sections.
I made 4 spacers that accurately positioned the two lower stretchers that connect the side to the center section. These spacers are taped to the inside of the legs between the back apron and lower drawer rail.
There is also a 4” spacer that fits between the front drawer rails of the side to ensure alignment with the center section drawer rails.
Layout all the parts and do a dry assembly to ensure that you know the clamping sequence and have the right clamps readily available.
I used small pieces of wood taped to the legs to prevent the clamps from scratching the legs.
Lay the center assembly on the opposite end vertically. Spread glue into the leg mortises.
Spread glue on the tenons of the back apron and drawer rails. Position them into the legs of the center assembly.
Spread glue into the mortises of the side assembly and place the side onto the tenons.
Position and tighten the clamps.
Step 31: Gluing Center and Side Assemblies Together
Check that the two sections are against both fences, this will ensure they are square.
Clamps were placed on the top of the back aprons and on the drawer rails to ensure that is laid flat to the platform.
I placed a 90 degree brace on the inside of the drawer opening to ensure that the side is square to the back apron.
Step 32: Final Base Assembly
Longer bar clamps are required to span the total width of the table base and platform, a clamping capacity of nearly 60”.
I required the help of another person to position and hold the long clamps so I could tightened them without racking.
Once again make sure all the joints are squeezed tight and the base lies flat on the platform and squared to the fences.
Step 33: Stock Prep for the Drawer Fronts, Sides & Backs
You need to select mahogany stock that is attractive and flows seamlessly from one side of the table to the other side. Ideally a single 60” long piece with great pattern would be best. Otherwise select complimentary pieces of wood.
The drawers are made from rough sawn ¾” thick stock and sized down to 5/8” final thickness. Mahogany for the drawer fronts and maple for the sides and backs. The finished size of the side drawers are 3 7/8” high, close to 12 5/8” wide, and 12 ½” deep.
NOTE: You want to custom fit each drawer into their respective cavities. Cut all the stock to 4 1/16” wide, this will give you some margin to work with.
The drawer bottoms are pre-finished ¼” maple plywood.
The drawers do not have any mechanical drawer slides, they slide on maple runners attached in the drawer cavities.
The construction of the drawers are blind dovetails on both the front and back of the drawers.
After selecting the ¾” rough sawn mahogany stock, cut it to approximate length.
Joint one face to make it flat and make the opposite side parallel either with a planner or a drum sander.
Reduce the thickness to 5/8” thick.
TIP: Mill a couple extra pieces of maple at the same time to use for dovetail setups and other sample cuts.
Step 34: Stock Prep for the Drawer Fronts, Sides & Backs (continued)
Cut all the drawer boards to 4 1/16” wide.
Use the crosscut sled on the table saw to make one end square to the edges. Mark this end.
Precisely measure the drawer openings and cut the drawer fronts and backs to that measurement using the crosscut sled and a stop block. You want to cut the fronts and backs with the same stop block setting.
NOTE: The drawers will have a 1/16” margin (space) on all four sides of the drawer opening. Cutting the dovetails will make the dovetail pegs proud about 1/32”. You will plane the pegs flush after the drawers are assembled. You want the fit of the drawers to be precise.
Measure the inside distance of the drawer cavity from the drawer rail to the back apron. Reduce this width by 5/8” and cut the drawer sides to that measurement. This will allow for the setback of the blind dovetails and will ensure that the drawer doesn’t bottom out on the back apron.
Step 35: Cutting the Blind Dovetails
The supplied instruction booklet details the process.
Step 36: Cutting the Grooves for the Ebony Drawer Inlays
The three drawer fronts have offsetting ¼” wide ebony strips. The ebony strips are inlayed about 1/8” and stand proud of the drawer fronts by 1/16”.
The inset is the same on all the drawers. The lower inlay is inset 1 ¾” from the ends of the drawer fronts. The two others are set ½” in from this (2 ¼” and 2 ¾”).
There is a 1/8” space between them and they are centered in the height of the drawer front.
Layout the stopped grooves on the end of a extra piece of wood that you milled back the drawer stock.
Use white paper tape and place it on the top edge of each drawer front. Mark the end point of each groove and number them. Draw a line that will serve as a reference when cutting the groove on the router table.
Make sure that you are marking the top edge of each drawer front so that the drawer front orientation is consistent.
Step 37: Router Table Setup for Cutting the Inlay Grooves
Place a piece of white tape and place it on the router fence about ¾” above the table.
You want to mark the router bit width on the tape. This will indicate your starting and stopping point when cutting the stopped groove. Use a pair of triangles in the following manner.
With the fence set back about a ¼” from the bit, place one triangle flat on the table and square to the router table fence. Move it against one side of the bit. Take the other triangle and set it against the flat triangle in order to place a vertical mark on the tape.
Move the triangle to the other side of the fence and repeat the process.
I also clamped a cleat on the outside so the drawer fronts ride in a channel between the fence and the cleat. I used two drawer fronts set against the fence to position the cleat. The cleat should be tight to the edge of the drawer front but still allow for movement. This will help ensure a straight groove.
Take the sample board with the groove layout and place it on the router table and move the fence to align with the first mark.
Set the bit height to 1/8”.
Make a sample cut to ensure proper groove placement and the depth of cut. Make fence adjustments until it aligns correctly. Adjust bit height as necessary.
Step 38: Cutting the Inlay Grooves
NOTE: Always keep a hand on the board and exert downward pressure while pressing the board against the fence. Move the board slowly through the bit. Make sure you do NOT go beyond your reference lines.
The line markings on each board indicate the start and end of each groove.
Turn on the router.
Position the board so the bit is cutting inside the first mark by at least ½”.
Lift the end of the board above the bit height and slowly lower it down onto the bit. Once the board is down on the bit you can move the board back towards you until the line on the board aligns with the line on the fence tape.
Now move the board forward until the same reference line is align on the other end of the board.
Move the board back a couple of inches and shut off the router. Wait until the bit comes to a complete stop before lifting the board off the router table.
Repeat the process on the other drawer fronts. Once all the boards are cut, rip off the corresponding number on the each drawer tape. This will help eliminate any confusion when cutting the other grooves.
Repeat the above process until all three grooves are cut.
Step 39: Square the Ends of the Inlay Grooves
The first is to ensure that the inset of the 3 grooves are the same on each drawer.
Use an adjustable square and check the inset of each groove. Mark the ends of the grooves so they are consistent from drawer to drawer.
The second thing to do is to square the ends with a chisel.
Step 40: Making the Ebony Inlays
The longest inlay for the center drawer front was about 20”.
The final size of the ebony inlays is slightly wider (1/32”) than ¼” and ¼” high.
I wanted the inlays to overlap the drawer front grooves by about 1/64” on each side.
I cut 5/16” strips of ebony about an 1 ¼” wide. I then ran them through a drum sander to a thickness of 9/32”.
I marked the boards with a white grease pencil so I knew the edge that was 9/32”.
I then ripped them on the table saw to ¼”. I now had strips 9/32” x ¼”.
I made a jig to hold strips so I could run the edges on the router table to reduce the width of the strips to ¼”. The height of the bit was set at 1/8”. This produce a 1/64” lipped edge on both sides of the inlays.
Step 41: Making the Ebony Inlays
On each end of the strip cut a shallow rabbet. This will create a slight overlay of the groove similar to the overlay create on the sides.
Prepare a caul a little larger than the area of the inlays. Stage 2 clamps.
Sparingly spread glue into a groove and position the inlay. Tap the inlay to seat in the groove and clean up any glue squeeze out.
Proceed until all the inlays are positioned. Clean up any glue squeeze-out.
Sand the inlays with a sanding block and then by hand to create
the “pillow” rounding effect.
Step 42: Making the Drawer Bottom Groove
A ¼” wide, ¼” deep groove needs to be cut in the inside faces of the drawer front and sides set ½” from the bottom edge of the drawer components.
NOTE: Mark the inside bottom face of the drawer fronts and bottoms. Cutting the groove on the wrong side or wrong edge is very bad!
The placement of the groove should be within a tail on the dovetail joint. This way the groove will be invisible from the outside of the drawer. Make adjustments to the location of the groove based on your dovetail joint layout.
Set the table saw fence at ½”. Set the blade height at ¼”. Using a scrap piece of wood make a test cut. Check the depth of the cut and the offset from the bottom edge. The width of the saw kerf depends on the blade you are using. It should not be any wider than 3/16”.
When satisfied cut the grooves in all the fronts and sides.
Step 43: Cutting the Back of the Drawers
Assemble each drawer and mark the location of the groove on the back. It should be around ½” but may vary a little. A precise measurement is important to ensure a good tight fit.
Set the table saw fence accordingly and rip the backs.
Hand plane the cut edge to remove saw marks.
Step 44: Drawer Assembly
I used 6 Bessey parallel bar clamps that have a clamping height that is a little less than the drawer height.
Spread glue on the dovetails of one side and on the pegs of the front and back. Seat the front and back onto the tails.
Spread glue on the tails of the other side and seat them accordingly.
Move the glued box to the clamp station and tighten the clamps across the width of the drawer in order to tightly seat the sides.
Set clamps from the front and back and secure those clamps.
Use a tape measure or a steel rule and measure the outside diagonals corner to corner. The same measurement will indicate that the drawer is square.
I used another set of clamps from the front to the back to ensure the joints were tight.
Step 45: Dovetail Joint Clean Up
Attach a ¾” piece of MDF, 12” wide across the width of your workbench that extends 6-8” past the edge.
This will provide a platform to hold the drawer steady. I placed clamps across my workbench to secure the drawer.
Using a low angle block plane and a jointer plane, I cleaned up the dovetails and plane the side of each drawer.
I planed each side to ensure that the drawers fit snugly into their respective drawer cavity.
After ensuring a perfect fit I sanded the drawer sides with 220 grit sandpaper.
Once all the sides of the drawers were sanded (with the exception of the drawer front), I applied 3 coats of Minwax wipe-on poly to the inside and outside of the drawers, including the drawer fronts.
I used 0000 steel wool between coats.
Step 46: Sizing the Drawer Bottom
Use an adjustable square and place it inside the groove until it bottoms out. Lock the square. Transfer the measurement to the top edge of both sides. Do the same for the groove in the front.
Measure the distance from the marks across the drawer and that measurement in the width of the drawer bottom.
For the depth of the drawer bottom, the distance from the mark on the drawer front to the back edge of the drawer back is the depth of the drawer bottom.
Use the table saw to cut the drawer bottom to size. Adjust the width and depth of the bottom until it slides easily into the grooves without binding.
Ease all the edges of the bottom with a sanding block.
Step 47: Making Drawer Runners
Once the cleat is screwed to the side rails and the drawer dividers, the drawer should fit between the cleats with no more than 1/32” clearance.
The cleat is 7/16” wide, 1 ¾” high and 12 ½” long. The cleats fit between the legs and is 1/16” proud of the legs.
The drawer runner is ¾” square and 13” long. Drill countersunk holes through the runner and cleat for attachment.
The drawer runner is glued to the cleat. The drawer runner overhangs the cleat by 3/8” on both ends.
Ease the edges of the drawer runner with a block plane. The top of the drawer runner should be smooth. Remove any glue squeeze-out in the joint. The edge of the drawer side sits and slides on the top of the drawer runner.
Smooth drawer operation is dependent on the positioning of the drawer runners. In order to position the runners consistently I made a simple jig. The jig spans the top to the back apron and top front rails and hangs down into the drawer cavity.
The jig is clamped to the back apron and top drawer rail, then the drawer runner is clamped to the bottom of the jig and also against the drawer divider and/or side rail. Once clamped, drill a pilot hole for the screws through the jig. Make sure that you do NOT drill all the way through the side rails. Attach the drawers runners with screws.
Step 48: Drawer Pulls
Cut a couple of strips of wood 1” wide by 18” long.
Use a round nose router bit to create the edge profile.
Make test cuts to set the bit height. The center of the bit established the fence setting.
Run the strip through the router bit on both sides.
Use a cross cut sled with a stop block to cut the drawer pulls to length.
Make a jig to cut the end grain of the drawer pulls. This will hold the small piece securely against the fence and through the router bit.
Step 49: Drawer Pulls
The spacing and depth of the grooves must match the position and depth of the inlays.
I tried a number of methods to make the groove but decided that sanding the waste was the best way to control the depth of cut.
I made a simple jig to hold the pulls and position the grooves.
The inlays are around ¼” wide and spaced 1/8” apart. The jig has 3 slots cut into a maple block. The pull is held in place on 3 sides. The dept of the grooves are 1/16”.
I used a ¼” thick strip of maple and secure a 150 grit adhesive back strip of sandpaper on the edge of this piece of wood.
Using the grooves as a guide, I sanded the waste away. Mahogany is pretty soft and it doesn’t take much time to sand each groove. I consistently check the dept of each cut to ensure a tight fit.
Once the grooves were cut I drilled two 3/32” holes in the outside recesses to secure the drawer pulls to the drawer front.
Each drawer pull was hand sanded to round over each edge of the drawer pulls. This created a soft edge.
Stain and varnish the drawer pulls. I suspended the pulls on nails so I could access all the surfaces.
Step 50: Wax the Table
Step 51: Drawer Stops
The first is a 4” long 1 ¼” wide strip that is mounted on the back of the lower drawer rail. This stops positions the drawer front to the face of the table. This stop is mounted with two screws.
The second stop is ¾” x 1 ¼” and is mounted on the back side of the top drawer rail. This stop swivels and prevents the drawer from being pulled out of the drawer cavity. The screw holds the stop in place but is slightly loose so it can swivel to remove the drawer.