This project was quite thoroughly documented with images to capture the progress. S0 this post is more of a visual retrospective of that process.
The farmhouse style table for my sister, Terri, started in February with two large walnut slabs that were obtained from a sawyer in Lapeer County. He cut the slabs sequentially from the same log and I laid them open like the pages of a book to get mirror images of the grain patterns... thus the term "book matched"
The large natural cracks are filled with epoxy resin that is dyed black. The 3/4" thick butterflies or "dutchmen" are laid out and cut by hand then inset into the wood so that they span the crack. These are functional pieces that prevent the crack from spreading but are also considered by some to be an attractive decorative element. If Terri had not wanted to see these, they still would have been done but on the underside of the top.
The aprons needed to be thick enough to carry the weight of the table but yet allow for comfortable seating. An ogee curve provide for a full 5" tenon at the leg but also allowing for the knee clearance required around the perimeter of the table. A fare curve is obtained mathematically and necessitated a template that could be used on all 8 joints. I think this may have been the first time I've use my high school geometry!
One of the subtle details of this table is the edge treatment. The end grain of this wood was so dramatic that I wanted to make sure it was very obvious. To that end I cut the edge with a 20 degree back bevel. This actually does three things; First there is slightly more surface area and thus more grain to see, Second, it catches the light more effectively, Finally, it's angled up and more visible from above.
The finishing of the table top turned out to be more challenging than expected but the final result was worth the effort. It's 4' wide and 6.5' long and the top is coated with boiled linseed oil to add contrast or "pop" to the grain. It's then sealed with 6 coats of oil based polyurethane that will withstand years of use before needing to be touched up. She chose a reddish stain for the base that matches other furniture in the room quite well.
I'm very grateful for having had the opportunity to build this keepsake table for my sister's new home.