Arts & Crafts Side Table

by Dan Phalen
Arts & Crafts Side Table Does Double Duty

After a long hiatus from woodworking, I decided to build a 21"w x 14 1/2"d x 25"h side table for myself. My solution for reading book and drink storage has been a 25-inch stool of turned legs and maple top. Functional, but not so hot.






This project was constructed from scratch using solid cherry, sized according to the space available, and designed with Google Sketchup 8 before construction. I made most of my mistakes in Sketchup instead of in the shop. Now you can have the plans too.

Wood Selection

I went with cherry to match my computer desk. I know, standard A&C and Mission is made with quartersawn oak, but this is what I wanted. Besides, I've been living with oak office furniture for thirty years and I've had enough.

The frame and top are standard American cherry. For the shelves, I had to go with Jatoba, or Brazilian cherry. Turns out it matches pretty well, but it's very dense. The corner notches went in nicely on the band saw.


The standard is mortise and tenon, and I've finally got the process down pretty well.

First dry fit prior to staining. Note the masking tape to mark positions of all pieces. Also note the different wood color in the shelves. As it turned out, the stain made it match.

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Frame Assembly

We'll start with the legs milled to 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 24" from 8/4 cherry stock. The mortise positions are critical, but they'll come later.


Miter Saw Jig For Leg Bevels

To safely cut the 3-inch bevel at the bottom of each leg, I needed a shop-made jig. The 12 x 12 shop ply jig shown below aligns the workpiece square to the fence. The vertical flange provides a way to clamp the jig to the saw fence, and the 1/4" ply tab on the corner supports the workpiece while I'm sawing. The bevel angle is set to 7 degrees, which makes about a 1 5/8" by 2" footprint for each leg.


Side Panels

The side panels give this project the Mission look, but they also support the two shelves. Here they are, already glued up and attached to the right and left leg pairs prior to final assembly and finish.



I used a modified breadboard style where the four edges are all the same width. It's a better balance than with narrow front/rear edges, at least to my eye.

In the first picture below, the pieces are stained and machined, the front/rear already biscuit joined and glued. The second shows the right/left pieces under glue-up. Wide masking tape protects the finished surfaces from glue bleed.




Here's the final top with protective masking tape removed.


I applied a coat of BLO to bring out the figure, then followed with General Finishes "Georgian Cherry" gel stain. Finished off with two coats of Zinnser dewaxed shellac.

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Here is how the pieces looked after staining but before sealer and final coat.



Here's the whole thing, minus top, gluing up. Once the glue is set and dried, I'll turn it upside down on the top and fasten the top to the aprons with the figure 8 fasteners. Only then can I jiggle the top shelf into place and screw it to the cleats. If I were to install the top shelf before the top, I wouldn't have enough room to drive the screws into the figure 8s. Called planning ahead.


Had to remove one cleat in order to shimmy the top shelf into place. Then fastened the cleat to both shelf and stretcher.


This handy side table really serves me well. Easy to build, simple and straightforward setup. Be sure to download MY PLANS.


Thanks for looking, and I hope you enjoyed your visit.



EB Cover

Before the age of kings,
 when God was a woman...

Sumer, 3,200 BC. Under the watchful eye of a deadly cobra, Nippur’s empath queen Uruna risks her life and mankind’s future to foresee an alternative to war. Torn between her longing for love and her pledge as bride to a nation, she defies a power-mad priest and his insurgent army. But her gamble demands a personal cost more shattering than her worst nightmare. Read more...

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