My wife and I recently moved into a new house. The living room was very empty, so we decided that I should build a coffee table to fill it up. As I’m very new to woodworking, I was unsure of the species of wood to use for the table. I brought (dragged) my wife along to the lumber yard to get her input on the matter. She saw a piece of Box Elder, in all it’s red splotch glory, and suggested (decided) that it should be incorporated into the table. I ended up resawing the piece to 1/2″ thickness in order to make the 18″ inlay. I finished it with marine Waterlox, it looks like glass–very cool! I heard that I should use something like this with UV protection or the red splotches would turn brown.
The rest of the table is 8/4 soft maple. After a few weeks of trying different finishes to get a strong black to contrast the Box Elder, I punted and painted it black. Lesson learned–don’t try to achieve a dark black with a white wood.
For the table base, I took inspiration from the Wood Whisperer’s Sculpted End Table project and used sliding dovetails for stretchers attached to each leg with a little “turret” in the center for them to attach to.
I’m not sure it was a great plan to work above my level for such a prominent piece in my house, but I certainly learned a lot along the way, and most people will never know about all of the issues hidden under the top :)