We follow Kevin O’Connor as he takes us to the workshop of Decatur Maker’s VP Char Miller-King, where she helps him build a shaker-style table. After showing Kevin how she simplifies the complicated aspects of the project (tapered table legs and drawer joinery!), the two build a table from walnut that is truly special.
Certain aspects of furniture building are intimidating. Tapering legs with any degree of accuracy, building and attaching drawers, and creating tabletops make newer woodworkers nervous. But, when host Kevin O’Connor meets maker Char Miller-King in her community’s workshop, she shows him some simple methods to build a beautiful shaker table with all of these features.
How to build a Char Miller-King Shaker end table
Note: Measurements and design will vary based on your preferences, so attempt to sketch the project out on paper first.
- Cut the legs from the wood stock. Start by measuring and marking the whole board to length for the legs and cutting it to length on the miter saw. For hardwoods, it may take a few passes to cut through thick wood, be patient and work slowly.
- Clamp the leg stock into a planing jig and flatten one edge on the table saw.
- Adjust the table saw fence to the desired width for the legs. Pass the leg stock through the saw to cut 4 square legs.
- Choose where the legs’ taper will start (slightly lower than the desired apron height looks best). Align all of the table legs and mark across their faces with a combination square at this mark. Clamp each leg into a tapering jig using the mark for reference and taper two adjacent sides of each leg.
- Cut the apron stock to the desired width on the table saw in one long piece, if possible. Next, cut the apron piece to length on the miter saw. This will require four pieces overall.
- Choose the best-looking apron piece to use as the drawer front. Adjust the table saw fence approximately 1 ¼-inches from the blade and rip the top and bottom off of this apron piece, creating the apron and drawer with a continuous grain pattern.
- Use a pocket hole jig to drill pocket holes at the ends of each of the apron pieces. Be sure to drill on the inside of the boards to maintain consistent grain patterns.
- Squeeze glue on the edge of the boards. Place two legs with one apron between them on the work surface. Use two ¼-inch pieces of scrap to hold the apron up from the work surface, and clamp the legs to the boards. Drive pocket holes through the apron and into the legs. Repeat the process on three sides.
- Place the drawer side of the table face-down on the work table. Position the 1 ¼-inch apron pieces above and below the drawer front, and slip pieces of paper between the aprons and the drawer front. Glue and screw the aprons in place.
- Cut the drawer box parts to width and length on the miter saw. Adjust the table-saw fence so it is approximately ¾-inch from the table saw blade, and lower the blade so it’s approximately ⅜-inch above the table saw surface. Pass each of the box sides over the blade, cutting a dado down the length. Next, place a 1/8-inch scrap of wood against the table saw fence to act as a spacer, and pass the pieces over the blade once more to create a ¼-inch dado. Cut a piece of ¼-inch plywood to fit in the dado and assemble the drawer box, attaching the drawer front and knob when finished.
- Cut three pieces of stock to length and width to form the tabletop. Edge glue each of the pieces and clamp them together. Allow the glue to dry before removing the clamps and cutting the tabletop to final length and shape on the table saw. Tapered edges of around 30 degrees look best but adjust the angle to your design taste.
- Attach tabletop hardware to the top of the legs. With the tabletop face down on the work surface, place the legs and apron top-down on the bottom of the tabletop. Fasten with woodscrews.
- Sand and finish the shaker table as desired.
You can check out other building projects by Char Miller-King at The Wooden Maven.