Tom’s Mission Style End Table
By Tom Erickson from Princeton, MN
Added on April 24, 2012
I wanted to send this project to Marc, not for posting but to thank the forum members and him personally for the inspiration to get me out of the virtual woodworking mode. I wanted to try woodworking for a long time but never seemed to have the time or confidence to begin. I have watched The New Yankee Workshop for as long as I can remember, and incorrectly assumed that woodworking required a unique power tool for every different cut and joint! After accumulating some basic tools, I was ready to start. I watched Marc’s videos, read his advice, and gained confidence, but what really motivated me was Marc’s series of articles regarding Duane Moore, a woodworker battling cancer who wanted to make projects for his children. I was touched by Marc’s compassion and support and wanted to be able to create something from my own hands to proudly pass down to my own children.
I chose this table design because I very much like mission style furniture, or so I thought at the time! It had enough challenges for a beginner to learn from, but nothing insurmountable considering the limited tools and skills I have. My first shock was the cost of quarter sawn White Oak, so I decided to use less expensive Red Oak. Although I don’t particularly care for the look, it was a better option considering I was fairly certain I would make a lot of scrap, which turned out to be true.
The legs were the biggest challenge. I wanted to try different methods to make them. I was given a locking miter bit for my router table, but had a very difficult time setting it up correctly. Ultimately I made a couple of variations of a simple miter joint on the table saw, one leg with a spline joint just to see how it worked. The next challenge was the mortises. Since I do not have a mortising machine, I drilled and chiseled them. It may not have been pretty, but I enjoyed the process. I think what surprised me the most in this project was that I enjoyed sanding it! I really felt a connection to the project at this point and sanding did not seem to be a chore at all. The finishing is where I really chickened out. I didn’t want to screw up at this point, so I went to Rockler and bought a Mission Oak gel stain and polyurethane top coat. In hindsight, I wish I would have gone with a natural finish, but its all part of the learning process.
For me, the biggest lesson learned was the need for planning. Small mistakes up front lead to bigger errors in the end. I wound up retracing a lot of steps that would have been unnecessary had I thought it through better, in particular making sure tools are calibrated correctly. Oh, and I also learned I need more clamps. A lot more clamps!
This simple table turned out to be closer to firewood than furniture and I would be embarrassed to have this displayed next to the fantastic work I see on The WoodWhisperer site, but I really like it and had a blast making it. Again, thank you Marc and forum members for the help, I look forward to being a Guild member some day when I think I can handle more advanced projects.