Thorsen House Side Table
I’ve always appreciated the look of furniture designed by architects Charles and Henry Greene. Though often equated with the Arts & Crafts movement at the beginning of the 20th century, their furniture designs reflect an Asian influence that softens the often hard lines of Arts & Crafts furniture. While looking for a piece to build, I was talking with Robert W. Lang, senior editor for Popular Woodworking and author of the just-published “Shop Drawings for Greene & Greene Furniture” (Fox Chapel). He suggested adapting a small side table originally made for the Thorsen House in Berkeley, Calif.
The cutouts on the aprons quickly won me over, but I did make a couple modifications that lightened the look of the table. Rather than a full-width shelf captured between two straight stretchers, I opted to make the stretcher with a top-and-bottom cloudlift design and make the shelf only half the width of the original. I also added some 1/16″ quirk details to the corners of the legs and the edges of the aprons, stretchers and the shelf. These “rabbets” add a simple shadow line to a very pleasant design.
Start With the Lumber
While the glue is drying, select the next-best sections of your wood for the aprons and stretchers. Resaw the necessary pieces from your 8/4 material to yield the balance of your pieces. Then surface, plane and saw the stock to final thickness, width and length.
Mortise & Tenon Joinery
The joinery for the table should start at your mortiser. I chose a 3/8″ mortising chisel for all the mortises on this piece. Mark the locations of the mortises on the legs, paying careful attention to the location for the lower stretchers. There are only two stretchers and they will require mortises on only one inside face of each leg. Orient the legs so those faces are on the inside.