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Living Room End Tables or Side tables

©2014 by Charles A. Plesums, Austin, Texas, USA

Exotic Veneer End Table

End Table with Olive Ash Burl veneer 3063

This walnut end table incorporates lighter olive ash burl in the top and sides. The Olive Ash burl veneer is glued to a heavy substrate using a vacuum press. Edges were trimmed from the veneered top panel, so the pattern continues on the side aprons. The rest of the table is built from solid black walnut, including a piece of walnut with exceptional grain pattern for the top edges. The choices of wood for tables or other items like this is almost limitless.

The top of this table was made from four consecutive veneer "slices" from the burl. Consecutive pieces were joined at the center, like a book (called bookmatched... clever, huh?), then two bookmatched sets were joined in the other direction to make a four-way bookmatch. Each quarter of the top is very similar (but not identical, since they were different layers) but combine to make a very interesting pattern.

We now have the equipment to allow us to use veneers in all kinds of furniture. Some rare, exotic, or fragile wood is only usable as veneer, which is then glued to plywood or other stable substrate, yielding a panel that is in many ways better than solid hardwood.


A burl is a growth (lump) on a tree, with very interesting, irregular grain. Because it is just a lump, not an entire tree, the veneer pieces are smaller, and somewhat fragile until they are glued to a stable substrate. Four consecutive pieces sliced from the burl were, in this case, "four way book-matched" to provide the entire table top, with a pattern symmetrical in both directions.

$750 each, $1,400 for a pair
Other woods, veneers, and features available

Construction details.

This table is about 20 x 30 inches, and 22 inches high. Although we love that size, a striking table like this seems larger than a plainer table, so a table could easily be a few inches smaller. The top could be rounded, if desired, and a profile could be added to the top edge.

The legs taper from almost 2 inches to 1 1/2 inches. Aprons are 3 1/2 inches high, and normally are made from a solid wood like walnut, but in this case were trimmed from the center panel and framed in Walnut.

There is no drawer or shelf in this unit. A drawer can be added for an additional $150. For an end-table, the drawer would normally be in the end rather than the side of the table. If this were used as an entry table, the drawer would probably be in the side.

Sofa (Console) Table

A sofa or console table is often close to the height of a sofa, and often used behind a sofa or in a hallway. This particular table is 16 inches deep, 42 inches long (behind a love seat rather than a full sofa), and 30 inches high. The table could be narrower than 16 inches, but at the risk of stability if it is bumped. The primary wood is black walnut.

The top of this table a curly English Sycamore veneer, surrounded by walnut. Since only a single piece of veneer was available, the joint could not be book matched, but simply joined in a fairly attractive manner.

$650 plus actual cost of the veneer
Other woods, veneers, and features are available

Construction details.

This table is about 16 x 42 inches, and could be longer (perhaps 56 inches) to go behind a full sofa. It is 30 inches high, based on this sofa, but might be taller or shorter based on your requirements (think 26 to 36 inches). A table only 14 inches deep would be more attractive, in my opinion, but is so narrow that it may be less stable than desired.

The legs are made from two layers of walnut laminated together, approximately 2 inches thick, then tapered to about 1¼ inches. The laminated legs are not apparent without close examination, and allows the table to be made from the same wood (even the same board). Aprons are 3¼ inches high. Drawers are not recommended, since the table is light and not very deep.

Round end table with inlays

This 32 inch diameter end table was built from natural sipo (a mahogany-like wood) with bubinga inlays on the top and legs. The design was to hold the large brass hanging, with about 4 inches of "tabletop" around the edge of the brass plate. The customer carefully specified the location and position of the 13 triangular inlays (8 of them were 3 inch triangles, and 5 were 2 inch triangles). The finish is topped with a conversion varnish for durability, rubbed to a gloss.

The apparent different colors in segments of the table are chatoyance - the wood is the same, but the angle the light hits it, and the viewing angle, changes the apparent color.

The table is supported by three legs, at an angle, with inlays on the sides of the legs using the same bubinga as on the top inlays. There is beading on the top of the legs to match the drawer front and handles on the custom stand-up desk previously delivered.

$1,400 as shown, including three sloping legs with inlays
Solid top, other sizes available, "regular" legs would be far less expensive

Solid Hardwood End Tables

This pair of end tables were built to the customer's specific dimensions: the smaller table is 15x18 inches; the larger is 20x24 inches. Both are 23 inches high, and built from solid walnut hardwood. The finish on the top of this table is polycarbonate urethane, an extremely hard and durable finish that does not require coasters under beverages for casual use. After more than a year, there is no sign of wear or stain.

The lower shelf is built with a "breadboard" end, where the boards are set loosely into a groove in the end piece, so the wood can expand and contract "across the grain" without splitting. The ends are then set into the tapered legs. In terms of both material and labor, the shelf costs roughly as much as the top of the table, so if you don't need (or want to dust) the lower shelf, you should not require it.

$750 each, pair for $1,400
Without lower shelf, $600 each, pair for $1,100

Pedestal or Accent table

An out of town client with a western-theme room had a bronze sculpture of a western scene. They wanted a pedestal for their sculpture, decorated with cattle brands. Okay, but I am not an expert on brands, so they did the research and sent me the layout of brands they had found. Each brand was inlaid in the solid oak sides, and filled with black epoxy. The stand was stained to match the rest of their room.

I didn't have a western sculpture to display on this pedestal, so I hope the client will send pictures in actual use.

$900 with 20 inlays and matching color stain.
Simple pedestal without inlays and stain would be far less expensive

Designing your living room tables

Coffee tables are closely related to end tables and other living room tables. Be sure to see the notes on coffee or cocktail tables.

End Tables

Entry Tables, Demilune tables

A demilune table is a rounded hall, entry, or sofa table- think "small moon" or a stretched half circle.

Accent Tables, Pedestal Tables

These are smaller end tables, used for a piece of art, lamp, or as an end table where space is limited. They can be any size, but in furniture catalogs they vary from 8-12 inches square, to a circle about a foot in diameter, to 10 by 20 inch rectangles. Most accent tables are about 20 to 30 inches tall, similar to end tables.

Pedestal tables are sometimes called plant tables, and tend to be smaller but taller. Typical top is about a foot in diameter or square, with 30-40 inch legs.

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We primarily serve Austin and the Central Texas area, but travel to the DFW area periodically and are glad to serve the Garland, Plano, Dallas, and other North Texas areas, and are willing to ship anywhere.