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Thread: Greene & Greene Coffee Table and End Table Build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Greene & Greene Coffee Table and End Table Build

    The Boss has determined there is “no room in the inn” for any more furniture- my builds or otherwise. That’s why I was pleased when she mentioned that she might be interested in replacing our current Louis XIV, marble topped coffee table and end table if I could make something that would match a Greene & Greene blanket chest I built some years ago, but still using the same marble tops. Apparently the house we now live in as empty-nesters “isn’t fancy enough for Louis XIV” and she would like something “simpler”.


    I can’t pretend to understand the design rationale, however was happy to accept the challenge - goodness knows I need something to build! I wasn’t originally planning on posting the build so pics/descriptions start sort of midstream the process. ”. Regardless I hope some find it interesting.

    My interpretation of the Greene & Greene style for these tales is Walnut with ebony inlays and exposed through M&T joinery.

    Here sawing of a slight taper to the bottom of the 2” square legs of the end table. As you can see, the through mortises that will attach side rails have already been cut. Hopefully the will be later pictures/descriptions of mortising.








    Again in my interpretation, one of the characteristic elements of this design is the “cloud lift” profile on the horizontal members. Here is sawing the stop cuts and ripping the long dimensions with a jigsaw.







    With the top and bottom rails for the sides completed, next up was laying out mortises for three-quarter inch wide, by half inch thick vertical dividers. For me when laying out joinery that needs to match complementary pieces, like top and bottom rails, best to clamp them together and marked simultaneously. I’m very bad at math.






    Here is sawing the vertical edges of half open mortises.




    Through tenons of the horizontal rails are the 3/16” proud of the legs. Here is rasps/filing bevel’s for these exposed surfaces. Limits of these bevels were laid out via dry assembly and marking adjacent surfaces.



    With half blind mortises on top and bottom rails completed, sides of table are assembled and vertical pieces glued in place.



    Last edited by Mike Allen1010; 02-04-2021 at 8:10 PM.

  2. #2
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    Other key element of this design are inlaid square ebony plugs. Lee Valley makes dedicated “mortise chisels” that are super helpful for this job. Hollow the inside they allow a drill bit to excavate the interior while the square blades make a nice clean hole.





    Tedious part of this design is making all the ebony plugs. I saw to rough dimensions on the bandsaw – these are quarter inch square, and use sandpaper glued to a substrate to sand bevels on the end, followed by polishing on a buffing wheel. The dense, hard ebony polishes extremely well with a little bit of abrasive.








    Here are some of the plugs inserted showing the reveal of the through tenons.





    I decided to add ½ inch thick solid shelf 3 inches up from the bottom of the table to add some visual weight and strength across the “open” long dimension of the tables. Here is surfacing the glued up panel.



    To layout the through mortises, I used Lee Valley marking tool to get consistent with on both show and back sides and laid out with by showing tenons to the leg. For me, taking extra time using an X-Acto blade when laying out through mortises is worthwhile to ensure you get a nice fit on the show side.













    Some pics of the through mortises on both sides of the table legs.




  3. #3
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    Sawing the through, proud finger joints for drawer front/sides. Because I previously plowed a groove on the inside the drawer for the bottom, I had to glue in plugs to fill the gap on the exposed surface. For me this is easier than trying to do stopped dadoes with hand tools.










    To add a little bit of flair to the horizontal shelf on the bottom of the tables, I decided to add a 1 inch “lift” to the shelf surface above where it passed through the bottom horizontal rails. Pictures probably explain a better than I can. Bottom line was lots of dovetails, including a “short grain” 1 inch wide section that wasn’t structurally very sound. Hopefully some of these pics illustrate what I’m trying to describe:











    After assembly, used shop made fenced rabbit plane to create the ¼” thick through tenon that joins the shelf to side rails.






    Here’s the glue up pic.




  4. #4
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    Last of construction was small ebony pull for the drawer with 1/8” square through tenons. For holding really small dimension work like this, machinist vise comes in really handy.











    Finish was Watco oil and varnish, wet sanded at 600 grit followed by multiple coats of brushed on lacquer. Lately I’ve been experimenting with topcoat finishes that are more durable than my typical go to shellac. I’m still not sure about lacquer as a topcoat. For me chief attraction is dries quickly and can be recoated within two hours. However it’s really thick to brush on. Not exactly sure I can recommend it.

    Here’s some pictures of the finished tables. I’m pleased to say the Boss was eager to get them into the house so I had to take pictures in place so their even worse than my typically poor photos.

















    Thanks for looking. All the best,
    Mike

  5. #5
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    Beautiful, precise work as usual Mike. Looking forward to the rest off the build. I like the way your adding your Mike-ishness to the work. And you need to find more "fancy" stuff to replace. I told my wife the 2 Morris chairs would be back from the upholsterer in a week or so and she asked where ya gonna put them? Up your a.......... So I understand your challenge.
    You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens.
    Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.
    - Bob Curtin

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Carey View Post
    Beautiful, precise work as usual Mike. Looking forward to the rest off the build. I like the way your adding your Mike-ishness to the work. And you need to find more "fancy" stuff to replace. I told my wife the 2 Morris chairs would be back from the upholsterer in a week or so and she asked where ya gonna put them? Up your a.......... So I understand your challenge.
    Bill you legitimately made me laugh out loud and blow bourbon out my nose!! You my friend have way more courage than I do to tell the boss the truth! God bless you "

    Cheers, Mike

  7. #7
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    Well done Mike!!! What a great job. I have a question about the Ebony plugs. They are aligned with the tenons and you called them plugs. Did you pin the tenons and then use the plugs as both a design element and as covers for the pins or are the tenons glued and the plugs are purely design?

  8. #8
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    Hi Mike,

    I used to like reading your posts, but now they are just giving me a complex because you are cranking out so much great work!

    All three look great in their new habitat and I especially like the drawer pull.

    (Keep the posts coming!).
    "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    --Yogi Berra

  9. #9
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    Beautiful work Mike.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  10. #10
    Thanks for sharing!

    I will let my limited experience show... that seems like a lot of fiddly little mortices to knock out by hand. I'm sure would be considered cheating but it seems to me that plowing a groove and then backfilling between the vertical slats with long grain plugs would be easier/faster. I'm guessing there is a strength or design compromise with that approach but it escapes me. Clue me in please.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe A Faulkner View Post
    Well done Mike!!! What a great job. I have a question about the Ebony plugs. They are aligned with the tenons and you called them plugs. Did you pin the tenons and then use the plugs as both a design element and as covers for the pins or are the tenons glued and the plugs are purely design?
    Joe, I appreciate the value of pegging tennon but in this build tennon were small 1/2' square so not a lot of cross section. Also through tennon were completely captured within 2" square legs. I believe glue sill be enough to hold them in place without pegs. I guess will have to see what happens.

    Cheers, Mike

  12. #12
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    Gorgeous work! I am awed and humbled.

  13. #13
    Wow. Very nice.

  14. #14
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    Jan 2019
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    Fairbanks AK
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    Gorgeous pieces. Joinery looks like a total and complete pain the neck, but kudos to you.

  15. #15
    I'm in awe (again)!
    Beautiful work Mike!
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

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