Sycamore/Shagreen Dining Table

Designing the Dining Table

This was a fun piece to do. Very few guidelines were put before me, short of creating a dining table for eight and with a strip of shagreen down the center. So I took to the sketch pad and banged out some ideas. But before anything was built, I made a full size mock-up out of corrugated cardboard and took it to the apartment, just to confirm that it would fit. Rule 1 – assume nothing. As it turned out, it fit nicely.


Then came time to select the materials. Several weeks before, I built a small desk using some figured white ash veneer. It was stunning, but for this application the veneer would be too coarse. So I took a look at several bundles of figured english sycamore keeping in mind that the client wanted a whitewash finish. I didn’t want the grain pattern to be hidden by the finish, so I selected the boldest one and asked my veneer man to apply the material to the top in a book matched pattern. Several additional panels were laid up for the base as well.


When the veneer panels were ready, I quickly assembled the base, which went together like an erector set .Pretty straight forward.

The top, however, was a little more challenging. I wanted it to look like a thick slab and so built up the edges using solid sycamore. This worked to my advantage because the wood edges protected the veneered top from chipping and it allowed me to fine tune their lengths and match the shagreen center panel, which couldn’t be adjusted. Once the three were of equal length, the shagreen center panel was lifted out and I was able to begin the finishing process.


Several coats of sealer were applied to close the pores of the wood and provide a smooth surface. Then a light whitewash was applied and finally a few coats of satin lacquer. And that’s pretty much it.