My friends Jay Bates and April Wilkerson were visiting so we could build some projects together.  My son wanted an end table for an alarm clock so we figured we could come up with one for him.  He likes bright colors so I choose to dye a piece of curly ambrosia maple to act as the centerpiece of the table.  The base was going to be muted in flat black paint to let the top be the main attraction.  He ended up loving it which is all I can ask for.  Having Jay and April in the shop was a blast.  With woodworking being such a solitary hobby, I highly recommend trying to work with others in the shop.  Not only can it make it a ton more fun, but you can learn so much from each other.  It’s cool to see how even small and simple tasks are performed by someone else. Of course having an extra set of hands for glue-ups is nice as well.

If you aren’t familiar with Jay or April definitely check out their stuff.  Both make some really awesome stuff.  While at my shop April was learning several different methods for mortise and tenons in this video and Jay has a really good video showing how to make mortises with a router.  Now let’s get to the build!





The miter saw is where I started to start breaking down the curly ambrosia maple.


With a level taped to the board, April was able to rip one side of the uneven board on the table saw.


Then the level can be removed, the piece flipped around, and it can be ripped to final width.


Then Jay and myself brought the maple down to final thickness on the planer.

Ambrosia-Curly-Maple-Table6Using my crosscut sled, April cut the piece in half to prepare for glue-up.


Some glue on the edges and set tightly in some clamps, the top could dry.


A nice even bead of glue squeeze out indicates a nicely glued joint.


Jay then used a card scraper to smooth everything out and finesse the glue joint.


Here is our finished glue up.

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For the front apron that was going to have the drawer, two edges were ripped off on the table saw, the ends of the middle piece were removed, and the center section discarded.  This is a great way to do an inlay drawer front and to get grain match.  We opted to do an overlay drawer front instead.


Then just glue the four pieces back together and you’re done with your drawer opening piece.


I turned my attention to the legs of the table.  I started with an 8 foot long piece of select pine.  It measured 2″ square.  I cut it in half, and then into quarters.


After squaring up one end on each piece and clamping those ends flush, I cut all our to a final length of 23″.

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After laying out where the tenons were to go, we all took turns on the hollow chisel mortiser creating the mortises.  We could then clean them up with a chisel.



Using my homemade tenon & spline jig, I made tenons on each end of the apron pieces.


Once we had some glue on the tenons and in the mortises, we could proceed to clamping it all together.



After mocking up the top it looked a little bulky.  On the table saw I added a chamfer the the bottom edge of the top.

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Figured wood such as curly maple really looks best with a stain or dye.  Using a foam brush, I applied a #12 Bright Red Cherry dye.  It’s a water based dye and also helps raise the grain.  After applying it, I immediately wiped of any excess with a clean rag. Once fully dry, I sanded it lightly to remove the raised grain.  Making sure not to sand too heavily and cut through the dye.

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Four coats of satin spray lacquer sealed the dye in and gave a beautiful finish.


Jay and April painted the base with some flat black water based paint.

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After gluing and brad nailing some drawer runners to the base, I made a corresponding groove in the drawer using a straight bit in my router table.  Click here to see how I make my drawers.


I also added some paste wax to the drawer runners to help everything slide nice and smooth.

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After temporarily installing the false drawer front with some double sided tape, I permanently attached it with some screws from the inside.

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Lastly I could secure the table top to the base using some table top clips.

Below you can see some pictures of the completed project.

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Thank you so much for checking out this build.  Feel free to look around my site and see what other projects you may be interested in.  If you want to know more about the tools used in this build check out My Tools Page for more info.  Leave any comments or questions you may have down below!

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18 Responses

  1. Tom O'Brien

    Great project. My granddaughter and I made a similar one with an oak top (see Lumberjocks). I like the red dye on the top.

    • Nick

      thanks Tom – very cool to hear – I’m really digging the color of thetop as well

  2. Dale Durfey

    How hard is it to line up perfectly the drawer grooves with the wood runners? Your drawer seemed to fit very tightly into the table. Great project!

    • Nick

      not overly difficult – granted the more practice you have the better you’ll get and the tighter you can make the tolerances – worth giving a try for sure – it’s a fun and effective way to do it!

    • Nick

      thank you – I don’t like that tapering jig – I’ve had it for many years now and I have never fully liked it

  3. Ed Connors

    Hey Nick… fabulous project! I truly love the contrast with with the colors, makes the top stand out. The pics of the step by step process is nice, a lot of people leave out the critical pics in the steps. Great job and thanks for sharing!

  4. Anthony

    Pretty cool project man. Might use this in my son’s room. I’m in the middle of trying to find time to finish his bed first. Just for shiggles and giggles, try this finish technique on your next project. It’s the one our finish guys use and I’ve had a lot of success with it also. First sand to a 150 grit. Remove all dust with a blower nozzle and a brush. Stain. Allow to dry. Then use a sealer on the stain. Allow to dry. Sand with a fine sand sponge. Stain again on top of the sealer. Allow to dry. Then use a spray lacquer 2 coats, lightly sanding between coats. It makes the stain so much more consistent and deep. Once again, thank you for sharing you talents. The vids are fun to watch.

    • Nick

      thanks much – I may have to try that sometime – might be too much fuss for me though

  5. Ryan Wilford

    It’s rare seeing bigger projects laid out like this, in an easy to follow format, thanks! I personally find the red cherry dye a bit tacky – does fit the black legs though! In the end it’s all a matter of personal preferance…


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