A few years ago, a close friend of mine was looking for a hall tree. A place where she could store shoes, jackets, hats, mittens, etc. Apparently, it was very difficult to find a hall tree that not only looked good, but was of quality construction. These friends of mine are not very fond of the “disposable” approach to furniture (that’s refreshing!).
So they asked me to design one for them. After about a year, I cleared the project queue (terrible, isn’t it! Woodworking is my #1 hobby, but then again, so is my daughter and my wife…and the house and yard upkeep, and the…you feel me), we finally dug in.
I sketched an idea that I had, in the Stickley-esque arts & crafts style, with two tone color; the dark to match their existing furniture, the light a contrast to make the piece more interesting and show off the tiger Oak.
Wood: Solid Red Oak, except for the panels which are QS White Oak
Joinery: Mortise and tenon on the bench, dados for the cubbies. Glue and dowels attaching the top to the bottom chest, and MUCH attention to the issue of expansion contraction in the directions of the woods, what is glued, etc. I used those little figure 8 hold-downs to attach the lid, so it allows for movement relative to the rigid cube chest. Most of the top is glued together because the grain direction is all the same, with the exception of the back panels which are partially glue and partially held tight with screws.
Finish: (Dark) 2 coats of Brown Mahogany/Dark Walnut mix Transtint Dye (make the wood dark), Followed by a dark Gel Stain (fill the pores, and make slightly darker), 1 rubdown with mineral spirits because OH CRAP, it was too dark!! And then 2 coats of Arm-R-Seal Semi-gloss Polyurethane.
(Tiger Oak) – 1 coat Brown Mahogany Transtint Dye, 1 coat minwax tung oil (to partially seal it), 1 coat minwax mahogany gel stain (fill pores, darken things a little), again 2 coats Arm-R-Seal semi-gloss. The Transtint dye does a great job increasing the contrast between the rays and the wood, popping the tiger striping.
What I enjoy so much about building furniture is that it has a legacy and has a daily impact in the lives of the people that own it. First the legacy of the maker, but then a legacy within the family who grow to use and love these pieces. Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts, comments, or suggestions.