New work

I recent finished this George Nakashima inspired walnut dining table, as I look back it is evident that I am still learning and truly enjoyed all aspects of the process, from working on the design with the client tweaking the design to fit his home and families requirements, finding walnut slabs that were close to 3” in thickness x 30” wide to build the table with a finished size of 50” x 108” x 30”. Some of the challenges of working on a table of this size include just moving the slabs around. I found that my shop while it’s very well equipped still lacked a planner to handle stock of this size. This was not a setback, but it was a chance to network and to meet a resourceful Vermont fellow who owned a small mill with a planer of sufficient size.
In joining the top book matched slabs great care was taken to insure a mirror image, just a fraction of an inch would produce poor results. Only veneers will produce a true book match, because no wood is lost between the two pieces of wood. This is because they are sliced with a knife. With solid wood the saw cuts a kerf of a 3/16”+/-, next the flatting or “face jointing” removes more of the stock, as the stock is removed the characteristic of the two slabs change loosing this book match effect. If you have a chance look at a board flip it over is it the same? Chances are it is not. So with this in mind it is very important not to remove any more wood than needed. With one side flat I run the slabs to be planed, planning produces a parallel surface to the jointed side.
Next is the placement of the butterfly keys. The keys join the two slabs together and insure integrity of the wood where the wood has checked. Their use should be sparse as not to overcome the walnut’s beauty or busy the design. Paper keys were used to position the sugar maple keys cut out and placed on the top moving them as needed. Locations were found sizes set larger keys were used to join the two slabs leaving a 3/32” gap between the two. This small gap proved to be another challenge any fluctuation in this dimension over its 108” of length and it would stand out like the parable “sore thumb”
As with the rest of this table nothing is small. The typical wood screw and fastener were dwarfed, this top is attached to the base using 3/8 machine bolts in slots allowing seasonal movement. With a 50” wide top this movement can be as much as 1 full inch with a 6 percent moisture change.
This table or one like it could be adapted for used as a desk with the addition of a drawer and keyboard tray, or used as a conference table. Feel free to contact me at
Well back to work on a walnut dining table and chairs, or next month’s blog.
Thank you for taking the time to read about Joe Breznick ’s work.


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