So a couple of months back I emailed Marc asking ‘how the h*** do you finish wenge?’ He responded with a brilliant answer which I followed some of, and sorta “adapted” the rest. Here is my finished Asian “inspired” hall table. Its mostly wenge, (the top is from an 8/4 slab that I resawed (took nearly a bloody hour on a 14″ Delta with a riser block…) The sliding dovetails, the floating table top supports and the leg stretchers are cherry. I finished it with Benjamin Moore Interior Wood Finish, Low Lustre Polyurethane (435-00). Thanks for the help by the way: water-based poly, my usual choice, looked like mud on a scrap piece, then flaked and peeled off.
This piece was a complete departure from my typical woodworking. Up to this time, all of my pieces have been maple and cherry, and very much the simple forms of someone who is Shaker-inspired and admires the work of folks like Christian Becksvoort. I took a class taught on “Asian hall tables” and decided to spread my wings by trying an exotic wood, and a completely new form with some curved work. The instructor had asked the class to do a simple Asian style table in walnut, but after seeing some of my work, permitted me to work independently from the other class members by taking his form, and applying my own expression to the table.
I had some beautiful small pieces of cherry left over from making a bed for one of my daughters, and the use of those pieces for some highlight pieces within the table seemed to make perfect sense. I used the cherry for the sliding dovetail cauls for the table top and for the through tenons for the table support. Artistically I suppose the use of the cherry ties the project back to my earlier work, but it also provides a visual contrast to the wenge. The slight angle to the joinery between the legs and the table aprons gives the table a slight airiness, and the cloud lifts separate the table top from the rest of the piece. I also softened the legs by using a very slight bevel cut to put pillowing on the legs to bring out the grain and figure of the wenge.