Shaker Side Table–Construction

Shaker side table built in maple.

The Shaker side table rendered in soft maple.

Anticipating a basement waterproofing operation in the near future, I spent time late last year trying to clear up and clean out the basement. That work included reducing my wood stash. I was getting ready to throw out some soft maple (victim of an aborted credenza project from almost a decade ago) when I realized I had enough material in the right thicknesses to build one of my favorite designs, a square Shaker side table featured in Thomas Moser’s How to Build Shaker Furniture.

I first built the table in 2006, closely following Christopher Schwarz’s article in the Autumn 2004 issue of Woodworking Magazine. For the more recent version, I referred to Moser’s measured drawings and took my own approach. I glued up the top and squared it on the table saw, then marked the wide bevels before planing them by hand. I’ve cut these before on the tablesaw, but roughing them out with a jack plane then finishing with a smoother isn’t much slower than roughing them out on the saw and feels safer. The legs were roughed out on the band saw (much easier than using a jigsaw as I had in 2006), then finished with a jointer plane. The legs are joined to the wide aprons using Dominoes. I appreciated the ease of effort the Dominoes allowed when I chopped the dovetail socket and mortises for the narrow aprons framing the drawer. Handcut (they’re not pretty, especially with the soft maple prone to blow out on the tails) dovetails join the drawer, with a plywood bottom rabbeted into the bottom. I glued drawer guides into the side aprons, then drilled the upper guides to screw the base to the top.

Before joining top and base, I sanded them separately and wiped on several coats of boiled linseed oil. After the top was attached, I applied a coat of paste wax.

More Information

  • Thomas Moser’s How to Build Shaker Furniture includes measured drawings for the side table. Christian Becksvoort’s drawings give the second edition a particular charm, but the revised third edition includes some additional designs and better photography.
  • The late, great Woodworking Magazine featured an article on building the table in the Autumn 2004 issue. The article has been posted to free of charge.
  • If you prefer biscuit joinery to mortise-and-tenon, American Woodworker’s take is worth a look. It’s also available for free on


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