Shaping the Drawer Pull
The table’s complex-shaped drawer pull matches the pulls on Mike’s dresser. Cut out a blank from 8/4 stock planed down to 1-1⁄4″ thick, then transfer the curved shape and angled ends of the pull onto the blank and cut it out with a band saw. The pull’s profile is shown in the Drawing. A strip sander is helpful for smoothing the stepped sections of the top, but you can use files and sanding strips just as well. With a sharp chisel and/or a knife, create a slight curve on the ends of the stepped face of the pull. Next, shape the concave curved sides of the pull, either with a carving gouge, or if you’ve got a steady hand, with a die grinder fitted with an oval-shaped burr. After roughing out both sides of the pull, use a sharp curved cabinet scraper to refine the shape, then finish with sandpaper, working from coarse to finer grits.
Forming Plugs and Splines
There are a total of 24 plugs that decorate the table: 20 on the legs and four on the top’s breadboard ends. To make the plugs, start by cutting a 3/8″ x 3/8″ “log” from African blackwood or ebony (to match those on Mike’s bedroom set), then shape and slice off the individual plugs. Trim both ends of the log square using a smoothcutting, fine-toothed crosscutting blade, then put a small 45° chamfer all around the edges of each end of the log. An easy way to do this is to make a 45° angle jig out of plywood and use it with a benchtop strip or disc sander. Give the ends a quick polish using a flap sander chucked in the drill press, then cut off a 3/16″-long plug from each end of the log. This yields two plugs per cycle. Repeat the chamfering, polishing and cutoff process to make about a half dozen more plugs than you need and pick the best-looking ones for the table.
The two L-shaped splines, which adorn the front corners of the top, are cut from a 3/16″-thick, 1/2″ x 2″ piece of blackwood or ebony using the band saw or scrollsaw. Use a strip sander or sanding block to put a small chamfer on the outsidefacing edges of the splines, and flap sand the splines smooth.
Sanding and Finishing
Before proceeding with finishing, it’s important to dry-assemble the entire table to see that it fits together properly. Use clamp pads and don’t over-tighten the clamps, to prevent denting the wood. Then, use a rubber or dead-blow mallet to gently take it apart.
To get a clean, even finish, it’s best to sand and finish all the mahogany parts before gluing the table together. Start sanding with 120-grit paper, then 180-grit and finally 220-grit. Wipe the wood down with distilled water applied with a sponge or damp cloth to raise the grain. When the wood dries, re-sand lightly with 240-grit paper. If you want the table to match the rest of Mike’s bedroom set, stain the mahogany using a blend of Lockwood red and brown mahogany aniline dyes. Wear rubber gloves to keep moisture from your fingers from smudging the dye. Then, apply two coats of satin wipe-on polyurethane finish.