Federal Bow-front Table
by Frank Vucolo
I designed this table using the materials, ideas and embellishments of the Federal period. It begins with an objective aesthetic: a small table with tapered legs. This form was a staple of the style, but it’s found in neoclassical representations throughout the Western world, and was widely used in Shaker and French country tables.
I added a bowed front, exotic veneers, stringing, banding and inlay in the Federal fashion, then formed a shapely lower rail with a drop, into which I inlaid a quarter fan – another core element of Federal decoration.
Because this is a relatively small piece, I was able to pull all the solid mahogany from a single 8/4 board approximately 13″ wide x 64″ long. Thus I didn’t need to use any stain, dye or atomized kryptonite to gain consistent coloration.
I used rift-sawn sections for the legs to ensure there was no cathedral grain to conflict with the inlay patterns. The flat-sawn sections do well for the aprons, rails and drawer front.
I used crotch and straight-grain mahogany veneer for the top, lower rail and drawer front. For the stringing, inlay and banding I used solid mahogany and mahogany veneer, as well as solid holly and holly veneer. Additionally, I used ebony for banding and fan inlay, satinwood for cuff banding, and black-dyed veneer for the black stringing.
Before getting started, make two patterns from the plans: one for the curve of the table (top, drawer front and lower rail), the other for the elevation of the lower rail. (I use 1⁄8″ or 1⁄4″ plywood or MDF; whatever is most handy.)
Free Plan: Download a SketchUp model of this striking Federal occasional table.
Article: Learn how to make diamond banding, in a free article from Rob Millard.
To Buy: Discover the steps to sand shade and assemble federal bookend inlay in the previous issue – November 2014 (#214)
Article: Learn more about furniture from the Federal period.
In Our Store: “Make an Inlaid Gallery Table with Rob Millard.”
From the December 2014 issue, #215