Stickley Poppy Table Drawings Available - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Stickley Poppy Table Drawings Available

 In Feature Articles
The Cover That Almost Was

Our December issue is on its way to subscribers and should be appearing on newsstands any day now. Sometimes we aren’t sure what to put on the cover, and for this issue we thought that either Senior Editor Glen Huey’s Shaker Workbench, or my reproduction of the Gustav Stickley Poppy Table would be good choices. We talked about it at length, had meetings, slept on it and still couldn’t decide. In our collective minds we thought that it was a tossup, and rather than flip a coin or arm wrestle we decided to pass the buck and let the readers make the decision for us.

We sent an e-mail to about 10,000 readers asking them to make a choice between the two cover images. What you see to the left is the cover that would have been, had it not been soundly defeated in the voting. Glen’s workbench won by a margin of 3 to 1. What was more interesting than the numbers (at least to me) were the comments left by readers on why they voted the way they did. A good number of the readers that chose the bench did so because they are in the process of gathering tools and setting up a shop so that at some point in the future they can do some woodworking.

It bothered me that people are putting off making stuff until they think they have enough tools and their shops are perfect. For me the joy of woodworking is in the working. I’ve been at this a long time and I know I’ll never have all the tools I want or have the shop exactly the way I want it. But I make stuff with what I have. Part of this project was made in our well equipped shop here at the magazine, but I did the carving out on my patio at home. An old WorkMate held the work and I only used a few tools as my ancient cat slept nearby.

So I’d like to encourage all our readers to go ahead and tackle the project you think you’re not ready to take on. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend our “I Can Do That” column, where we make nice looking projects with just a few tools. Glen’s bench is another great project if you’re ready to build the last bench you’ll ever need. As for the Poppy Table, it may not have won the popularity contest, but it was interesting and challenging for me. If you’d like to build your own, we have a downloadable PDF file so you can print the same full-sized drawings that I used. We’re charging a small fee, but it will save you a lot of time.

Click here to download the drawings.

–Bob Lang

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Showing 13 comments
  • samson

    Funny thing, but once I built my workbench (similar to the Fortune/Nelson design from Landis’ book), I found that while I still liked reading about them, they took a distant second to furniture.

    Glenn’s bench while pretty, isn’t to my taste. It figures I guess in that he says he’s a power tool guy who rarely sees much need for a bench and I like to use hand tools regularly and depend upon my bench heavily. One thing in particular puzzles me about Glenn’s bench though: He spent all that time making such a pretty cabinet and top, but didn’t see fit to mount his front vise so the iron jaws are covered or lined with wood??? It’s probably something I’m missing, but that made no sense to me. I think the folks one hundred years from now "trying to decide whether it was really used for woodworking" might guess no when they see that their are no wooden jaw liners!

    Keep the furniture articles coming. BTW, I like your articles in Woodworking a great deal.


  • Bruce Jackson


    As far as those damned beancounters (and as mentioned before, I used to be one), just push back at them! Tell ’em to go stroke a calculator or a spreadsheet, but do it in some dark corner!

    Life is a hell of a lot more than a hill of beans!

  • Steve Spear


    I know I am sounding like a cheapskate, but my point is if
    you did the plan while being paid by PW than the subscriber
    fees are paying for it or at least subsidizing it. I believe subscribers should receive the plans for free or at least get a discount. If you did the plans on your own time, then everyone should pay for it and $3.00 is not enough.


  • Bob Lang


    Thanks for your input. This is an experiment on our part, and though we might look like we are nickel and diming our readers, we do have people upstairs that we have to answer to. Putting the drawings into this format took some time on my part, and as much as we’d like to be generous, time is indeed money.

    I think the key element here is the value of the $3 investment. For the price of a mocha smackachino at Starbucks you can save many hours of layout work scaling up the drawings as published in the magazine.

    Any and all comments are most welcome, either here on the blog or by e-mail.

    Bob Lang

  • Steve Spear

    I know $3.00 is not much, but it seems to me you could
    offer the plan free for subscribers. Sort of turns your
    magazine into an advertisement flyer.

  • Bob Lang

    There is an otherworldly charm about this table, I think that’s a big part of the appeal.

    I think that just screwing the legs to the shelf would work, and while I’m not sure how the original is held together, if I had to bet, I would bet there is just a screw in there.

    I get nervous about screw-reinforced butt joints over time, but this is a very long-term concern. I’ve seen too many pieces from the period where the wood surrounding the threads has cycled through expansion and contraction enough times to destroy the threads in the wood.

    That said, I may be overly concerned. It would probably take 50 or more years for this to happen, and there would need to be some serious swings in humidity to cause this. When I see some damage in an old piece I try not to assume that the original technique was flawed. A lot of pieces were taken down to the basement or up to the attic and forgotten for decades. An identical piece kept in a friendlier environment would fare better.

    One of the cool things about this table is that it is very solid. The fifth leg adds some stability to the structure, similar to a geodesic dome. It looks delicate and fragile but it isn’t.


  • James Mittlefehldt

    I also really like the table, but for some reason I am a real sucker for workbench plans, I have a bench and it serves me well, but I love reading about them, so I guess you konw how I voted.

    As to the table is it stronger to attach the screws through the loose tenons, rather than just putting them into the side of the wood of the shelf itself, perhaps a dum question but I am curious about that aspect?

    I also thought oddly enough of the movies The Lord Of The Rings when I saw the table it looks positvly elfish.

  • Karl Rookey

    The new issue arrived today: it’s great. Keep up the good work!

  • Bruce Jackson

    By the way, Bob, I like your table. A lot.

  • Bruce Jackson

    I’m with Wayne. Sometimes I use the garage floor, although I did manage to make a set of rolling work tables, one which has my Dad’s old router table inlaid into the top. I also managed to make a fold-down phone desk for that odd corner in the kitchen next to the fridge. I like what I have for tools and workspace, although the summers down here are no real bargain. I still hope to get twin P-47 props for ceiling fans. But I gotta find a way to hitch the Allisons from the joists without weakening the roof’s ability to withstand Cat 5 hurricanes. Someday …. :-j I’ve gotten away from the half-inch plywood for window covers, having put up engineered hurricane shutters by myself earlier this summer, yeah, when it was already muggy as hell. With a lot of plywood, I will turn some of it into the plywood version of the Nicholson bench, which I value much more than a table saw. Till have a bit more to do to turn our humble home into a huuricane tank, like beef up the garage door, but that will also come in due time. Meantime, I just pay myself by the project, that way I don’t have no damn clock to watch.

  • Wayne Precht

    Bob, I think you make a really significant point here about going with what you have and get to making stuff. I have had to struggle with that myself on a regular basis over my years in the hobby. I think I finally found a balance where I commit to a certain number of pieces a year (I mostly do furniture reproductions) and interleave those with shop improvements on vaguely a one for one basis.

    I look at the many workbenches of Chris Schwarz and then back at my 2×10 top nailed to a 2×4 frame and cry. One day (hopefully soon) I will make one of those. But, for now, you can rest assured that quality work can be done on 3 2x10s that aren’t anything approaching the flatness people think is required of a work surface.

  • Alan

    This is a real beauty! Fine job Bob!

    That’s a real tasty design.


  • Charles-William Roy

    Mr. Lang,

    I for one love this little table. It is very subtle and beautifull.

    Art nouveau isn’t showcased very much.

    Great work,


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