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Morning again *PIC*
Posted By Ellis Walentine
Date Monday, 2 May 2022, at 9:02 a.m.

Ellis Walentine
Back in the '80s, some friends of ours purchased a Ming-dynasty low table at auction and liked it so much they commissioned me to make an exact replica for them. I was at somewhat of a loss, because the original was made of a kind of rosewood that isn't generally available on this side of the world, and it had a solid thuya (or something terribly similar) burl panel inlaid in the top. Not only that, but there are three distinct molding profiles -- four, counting the fluted leg profile -- in the original table that can't be duplicated with any modern-day router or shaper cutters.

What to do? Well, I had a lot of Indian rosewood on hand at the time, and a big ol' veneer press, so I decided to use my rosewood and a Carpathian elm burl veneer laminated on a 3/8" pine substrate.

The moldings were another story. To produce exact replicas of the original profiles, I ground the profiles (at whatever compensating angles) into an old Sandvik card scraper and raised all the profiles by hand onto stock that I had gotten as close as possible with the tablesaw. It took a while, but in the end worked out well. I still had that old scraper twenty years later when my shop burned down, and I found it, twisted and charred, in the ashes.

Here's the table. I seem to recall it was about 16"W x 24"L x 10"H overall. The top frame had through-tenoned miters at the corners, and the gallery parts were joined with a mix of through and blind tenons. The top panel was supported, like the original, by two cross pieces --shallow beams really -- that spanned between the side rails into through mortises, capped on the outside by rectangular rosewood plugs.

The end result was darker than the original, but otherwise indistinguishable.

 

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