Making a Shaker Table from a 2×8

Earlier this week I grabbed a 2×8 that was 8 feet long for $6.00 at Lowe’s with the intentions of making a shaker table out of it. I’ve made a lot of furniture out of Southern Yellow Pine dimensional lumber over the past couple of years. One of the best things I like about it is that it’s dirt cheap. The other is that it comes 1 1/2″ thick so when making legs, I don’t have to laminate two 3/4″ boards together exposing a glue line down the leg. The biggest downside is that the wood is very soft and easily dents however, lately I’ve been building things to look old, and a few dings and dents will only add character to the piece.

Making the legs of the table is a synch. Rip four pieces 1 1/2″ wide x 1 1/2″ thick. The next is ripping down the stock to create the carcass of the table. Because the 2 x 8 is exactly 1 1/2″ thick, getting two pieces that are 3/4″ in thickness is next to impossible. I settle for ripping it down the middle and yielding two pieces 5/8″ thick after I clean them up in the surface planer.

After I rip the stock to 5 1/2″ wide, I don’t just rip the piece all at once on the bandsaw. I set my table saw up to rip it in the middle and run a kerf on each side of the board.

Then I take it to the band saw and rip the rest of the way. This does several things. One, it saves my band saw motor as it doesn’t have to fight ripping five and a half inches of wood. Instead it only has to rip about 2 1/2″. Plus the kerf of the table saw blade creates a channel for the band saw blade to ride in so I don’t get blade drift. It’s also much faster than ripping 5 1/2″ and it also creates less dust.

Once I have my side and legs milled, I need to route the joinery to attach everything together. Using my handy-dandy Colt plunge router, I route all the mortises in the legs and sides to accept loose tenons. The process is so fast and simple I wished I would have created that Micro Fence jig ten years ago.

After the joinery was cut, I tapered the legs with my taper jig.

For the top I wanted to use 3/4″ wood as 5/8″ would be a little too thin. This is okay because I still need stock for the drawers which will be 1/2″ thick. So I simply rip the next pieces at 7/8″ on the table saw and follow-up on the band saw like I did previously.

The parts came out clean but the two pieces for the top were a little narrow. Together they were about 15″ but I needed the top be 16″ wide so I grabbed a piece of off-cut scrap and glued it in the middle.

After the top was glued, I flattened it with my 16″ surface sander and beveled the edges with a 45 degree chamfer router bit.

I needed to assemble the carcass so I dovetailed the rail on top of the drawer and loose tenoned the bottom rail to the two front legs.

The carcass fitted together nicely so I sanded the parts with 150 grit sandpaper and then glued it all together. Now I needed to work on the drawer.

The drawer sides and back are made with the 1/2″ stock. I planed a groove down each side and the back of the drawer front. I then cut them to size and routed a dado in the side to accept the back.

I cut half blind dovetails into the drawers and used my Colt plunge router to rout the majority of the waste and cleaned out the joint with chisels. Luckily I had a piece of scrap plywood for the drawer bottom lying around so I didn’t have to buy more wood. After I cut all the joinery for the drawer, I glued it all up.

As far as scrap goes, this is about it. Nearly everything from that 2×8 was used when I finished installing the drawer runners. Luckily I didn’t have any major screw ups where I would have to use more lumber because I didn’t have it.

The table came out pretty nice for $6.00. I plan on painting it (or my wife will) and give it away to my local PBS station. Next month they have an on air auction they call “Action Auction” where they auction off items from local businesses. I participated in it a couple of years ago donating this same shaker table only out of cherry. Back then, the table sold for about $135.00. It’ll be interesting to see where this one ends up. But for $6.00 and a few hours of work, it’s a good investment for getting my name on TV.

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