Shaker Sewing Table - 1a (Classic Design with Easy to Follow Detailed Instructions)

Woodturning and Woodworking - Intermediate Project

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A Shaker Table remains popular even today because of its clean lines and functional purposes. The first Shaker Table that I built in 1996, out of cherry, was made by using the design for the Sewing Table, with modifications to suit my preferences, described by Robert Treanor in Issue 116 of "Fine Woodworking" dated February 1996. The walnut table shown below was built by Cody in 2005, with modifications to make it easier to be built by a beginning or intermediate woodworker. The instructions below include these modifications. (The angle of this picture makes the drawer look small and off center - in reality, it is not.)

To see examples of fine furniture that I have built, please visit Showroom 2. Click the link at the bottom of the showroom page to return to Project 1a.

Fine Furniture in Showroom 2

Picture of Shaker Sewing Table

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This Shaker Table was Cody's first large project. Heretofore, he had been making small items. There is a lot more to wood turning, however, than creating bowls and candlesticks. It is also a means of creating beautiful pedestals or legs to compliment fine woodworking. Ordinarily, I would have Cody make a drawing of the piece of furniture he is going to build. This time, because I already had a Shaker table of this type built, I showed him how to use it as a pattern.

In the first picture, Cody had to glue up two pieces of planed walnut for the top. You can see the glue joint in the middle (edge joining). You can also see that I had Cody place boards along the outer edges of the top so that the clamps would not mar the walnut when tightened.

The size of the finished top
for this Shaker Table project
will be 18" x 21".

Picture of Top in Clamps

Picture of edge joined walnut for table top


The next picture shows you Cody's turned pedestal. It is 18" long. You should draw the pedestal on 1" grid paper before turning it on the wood lathe. Use the picture and the following instructions to make your drawing.

Picture of Turned Pedestal for
Shaker Sewing Table

Picture of wood turned pedestal


Look at the top of the turned pedestal. On your paper, begin by drawing a 1" x 1" dia peg. Again, look at the picture. The next 1" section has a larger diameter. This 1" section is drawn with two 3/4" vertical lines at 2" dia. The top of this 2" section is square so that the yoke will fit flush against it. The last 1/4" is cut down to 1 3/4" dia, then rounded. You will taper the next 3 1/4" to 1 1/2" dia. Then, draw the next 9" so that the pedestal increases from 1 1/2" dia to 3 1/2" dia. Draw the last
3 3/4" with vertical lines at 3 3/8" dia. You will then have a 1/8" shoulder at the end of the 9" section. Your total pedestal length is 18". You should write as many diameters along the length of the pedestal on your drawing as you think you will need for setting the calipers to measure as you are turning.

When you are ready to turn the pedestal, mount your stock on the lathe (set up for spindle turning). Then turn the pedestal using a round nose tool and a parting tool. Use the parting tool to cut down the 1/4" portion of the second inch of the pedestal and the 1/8" shoulder at the bottom of the 9" section. When you have finished turning, sand the pedestal while it is still on the lathe. I begin with 80 grit sandpaper, then change to 100 grit, and finish with 120 grit. Use sandpaper designed to withstand heat. For more about sanding, see Part II - 20 of Lesson-2b.

Go to Lesson - 2b


Picture of Leg Pattern for
Shaker Table

Picture of Small Cabriole-Style Leg/Foot pattern


Next, you are going to draw, and then cut out, the pattern for the leg and foot. Use the picture above to draw your pattern, or click on the picture for detailed drawing instructions. Be sure your vertical line is 3 3/4" long to match the bottom portion of the pedestal.

When you have finished your drawing, transfer the picture to a thin piece of scrap wood and cut it out. You now have a pattern for a small cabriole-style leg and foot.

Cut out three legs 3/4" thick using the pattern you created. Watch the grain in your wood. The best way to describe your cut is to say that the grain should run "diagonal." You do this so that you have strong legs to support the weight of the table. I had Cody cut the legs using a bandsaw. If you do not have a bandsaw, use whatever means you have available to you.

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Picture Using Drill Press to Sand

Picture of sanding using drill press


After you have cut out the legs for the Shaker Table, you need to sand them on top and bottom to remove the saw marks. If you have a drill press, you can mount a sander attachment on it as I have shown in the picture above, and sand the legs like Cody is doing. I did this to show Cody that a drill press can be used for more than just one purpose.

Shaping the Top of the Legs

Picture of router mounted in vise


You are going to shape the legs using a router. Here I have shown Cody how to mount the router in the wood vise so that it acts as a table router. Hold the leg so that you run it against the bearing on the bit, just as if you are drawing.

When you have finished shaping the legs, you will have to sand the long end of each one so that it is concave. Do this to round it so that when it is mounted it will match the curvature of the pedestal. Just look at the next two pictures to see what you need to do.

Sanding End of Leg

Picture of sanding end of table leg

Picture of concave end of table leg


Drill Hole in Leg for Dowel

Picture of drilling hole for dowel in table leg


You are going to mount the legs to the pedestal with dowels (wooden pins). With the table leg held firmly in the vise, mark the spot 1 1/4" down at center from the top of the leg. Then drill a 3/8" dia hole 3/4" deep. Do this with each leg. (In the picture above, Cody is drilling the hole while I hold the leg to make sure it stays steady.)

Then, put the large end of your pedestal in the vise . You are going to drill three 3/8" dia holes equal distance apart for the legs. For each hole, measure down 1 1/4" from the 1/8" shoulder on the pedestal. Use a center punch, an awl, or some other pointed object, to put an indent in the location for each hole. Be sure the hole in each leg matches the corresponding indent in the pedestal before you drill. This way, you will get them right the first time. When you are ready, drill each hole 3/4" deep.

Cutting Dowel to Mount Leg

Picture of cutting dowel for mounting table leg


Coat the bottom 3/4" portion of a 3/8" dowel with wood glue and then force the dowel into one of the holes in the pedestal. Then cut just enough of the dowel off so that what is left will match the hole in the leg.

Mounting Leg on Pedestal

Picture of mounting leg to pedestal


Put wood glue on the remaining portion of the dowel and force the leg down onto the pedestal. Only one dowel is used because you will go into the base of the leg with a screw to provide further stability. Mount all three legs on the pedestal, then countersink a wood screw underneath the dowel in the pedestal for each leg. I use a countersink drill bit that allows me to drill the pilot hole and then sink the screw. Look at the picture below to see where they go.

Countersink the Screw

Picture of screw in bottom of table leg


This concludes the first section of the Shaker Table project. When you are ready, go to the next section to construct the yoke, the drawer hangers and the drawer. If you have questions, go to the contact page at the end of Project-lc.


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Shaker Sewing Table -1a to 1b

Shaker Sewing Table -1a to 1c

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