No ‘shabby chic’, no retro, no DIY flatpack stuff. Which obviously begs the question… “What are we actually going to see then?”

That’s all tied in with the sort of furniture that ‘floats my boat’ and it can be a pretty eclectic mix, but in essence it’s all contemporary 20th century design from around the globe.

I draw a lot of my inspiration from the late Jim Krenov, who by all accounts appeared to be a prickly sort of character, but who nonetheless, through his books and furniture, had a huge influence on a whole generation of aspiring makers. Alan Peters, also recently deceased, is another firm favourite. Often called ‘the maker’s maker’, his work has a timeless simplicity and elegance that I find inspiring. The solid oakishness of the English Arts & Craft school is equally imposing and another firm favourite. Looking across the grey North Sea, who can’t fail to be excited when they see the elegant stuff produced by the Scandinavians, perhaps the most iconic piece of which is the cane seat version of ‘the Chair’? Finally, a look at the Far East to China and Japan also provides enlightenment, particularly regarding their joinery techniques, some of which I’ve used in the past.

If you’re reading this, you’re sat in front of a computer, but at the same time you may also be scratching around for ideas for a project. Over the years, I’ve collected a few worthy tomes (and there are only a few that are really worth having), which are always good to delve into.

The arrival of t’interweb though has simplified things enormously. Looking for a Krenov cabinet? Google is your friend, in particular the ‘images’ where screenfuls of inspiration are right in front of you.

The first project in the ‘shop is already underway and a pile of mahogany can be seen below:


This will eventually be turned into a large coffee table with a 6mm toughened, plate glass top and chunky legs but if you’re really observant, you’ll see that there are also two additional longer rails…all will be revealed!

The material has been machined very slightly oversize by around 0.5mm, which leaves 0.25mm on all faces to skim off with a hand plane (Veritas Bevel-Up Jointer Plane or Low Angle Jack Plane). It’s also been cut well over length by around 30mm and will be finished to size later on.

Corner joint mock up
Corner joint mock up

Construction on this job will be with dowels and whenever I’m doing something that I’m not sure about (which, as you’ll realise, is all too frequently), I usually always make a mock up in pine, as I did here for the corner.

Mock up exploded
Mock up exploded

If you’re really super observant though, and really paying attention you’ll see that I’ve put the holes in the leg in the wrong place!

Sometimes, my complete ineptitude staggers even me. Stuff can only get worse!

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6 Comments on "Coffee Table – The Beginnings"

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soror Nishi

Good stuff, I’ll be following your progress.


Hi Rob, I just wondered why you are using dowels for this project? Neil

Rob Stoakley

A good point and well presented Neil! As you’ll see from the next enthralling episode, I’m a bit of sucker for shiny tools and this was a pretty lame excuse to use my new jig. Seriously though for a moment, this was only one of many ways that the joint could have been made and contrary to perceived wisdom, dowelling is actually one of the strongest joints on the block. I could have used dominos just as easily, but the light doesn’t bounce off the machine in quite the same way. That’s my excuse anyway…


Hi Rob, thanks for the explanation. I’m looking forward to the rest of the project. Neil

Mitch Peacock

Nice to see I’m not the only one to have bored a dowel hole in the wrong place!

Rob Stoakley

It happens all the time. Luckily, correcting a bad dowel hole is easy…plug it and re-drill, hopefully in the right place.