Half-Round Table

Here's one of my first serious woodworking projects, completed quite a few years ago. It's a simple version of a classic form: the demi-lune table, popular in the Federal period. My kids called it a "half-round" table, and the name stuck.

The top is made from Peruvian walnut, and the base is hard maple. The walnut came from the workshop I apprenticed in, where we primarily used American black walnut.

Somebody had ordered a few boards of the Peruvian by mistake, and it had sat neglected in our storage shed for a long time. So long, in fact, that nobody knew what it actually was–but it sure wasn't black walnut.

It took me years to figure out what the wood actually was, when I saw the exact same species in a local lumberyard. It's great stuff-dark brown with black streaks, less dense than black walnut, and easy to work.

I was pretty green when I made the table, so I cheated on the joinery. The legs are attached to the rails with dowels, although this looks like a through mortise and tenon joint.

The end of the "tenon" is actually an applied piece (it's long grain, not short grain, so any woodworker worth their salt could spot the fakery if they examined this closely).

The "pegs" are just dowels going into nothing. I attached this rail to the back with with screws, run in from the back.

Attaching the top was a bit of a headscratcher. The table was intended to sit on a landing at the foot of the stairs in my house, so it would actually be about 6 inches higher than a normal viewing height.

I used metal table top fasteners to attach the back rail to the top (you can see their slots in this photo), but I didn't want to use them for the forward-pointing rail. I was afraid that they might be too visible, because you can see most of the underside of the table when you sit down in our living room.

So I came up with these cross braces instead. They both hold the frame steady and provide a narrow strip for running a screw through to hold the top. I don't know that I'd use the same system again, but it was the best I could think of at the time!

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