Charlotte’s coffee table

Tatton Country Show

Charlotte approached me at my stand at the Tatton show in Cheshire curious to know how the commissioning process would work and she wondered what kind of involvement she could have. The idea of collaboration with a contemporary furniture designer and maker really appealed to her as she felt that it gave her more confidence with one person in control of the whole process. She wanted to have a bespoke coffee table designed and made that would be a central feature in her living room.

Initial consultation

At the initial consultation Charlotte explained that the table should echo the form and materials of a handmade clock on her mantelpiece. On showing her my portfolio I gained an understanding of what kind of style she might like. The materials of the clock were American cherry and a brushed stainless steel and with an idea of dimensions I went away and developed a few sketches and computer drawings. At our second meeting I showed her the drawings I had prepared and provided her with a quote for the different options. After talking it through with her husband, she arrived at the decision which version she liked and with a few small modifications the drawing was signed off.

Buying materials

So with the project now in motion I found a full morning to spare and armed with a detailed cutting list I made my way over to the timber merchant’s to select some nice boards of American Cherry.The emphasis at this stage is to buy boards with as few natural defects as possible and closely matching colour.

Shaping and gluing legs

The first process in the production phase is cutting the components to rough dimension and then leaving them to dry further and adjust to room conditions. After leaving them for a couple of weeks the leg components were cut to their final dimensions with the router and then glued to each other to form the wide legs.

Preparing the table top and final shaping

Charlotte was very keen to see the work in progress and paid a visit to the workshop where I explained how the piece would be put together and we discussed the detailing and finish she wanted. Once the boards for the top had been glued together the curved shape was cut into the sides of the table. The legs then needed to be shaped to blend into the table top. This process has to be done first using the bandsaw and then by hand using a spokeshave, being very careful not to shatter the delicate end grain of the legs where they meet the top.

The final stages

The holes for the stainless steel rods were drilled and then all the inside faces were sprayed with lacquer prior to the glue up. Once glued up, some final shaping and sanding was done to the critical joint between the legs and the top and then the final faces were lacquered. Now that the table was completed I couldn’t wait to deliver it to Charlotte and to see her reaction. Judging by the e-mail she sent me the same day she received her new table, see testimonial she was extremely pleased with the finished product.


If you are curious to discuss a project for a piece of contemporary bespoke furniture, then contact David for a free consultation.


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