Side Table made of Osage Orange

A few months back, a friend brought me a gift after he visited our local lumber yard.  He found a cookie of a yellow/orange colored wood that he thought would be a nice piece to work with.  I enjoy making tables with cookies, because you can really highlight the growth rings and you can see how old the piece of wood was by counting the rings.  This particular  piece is 43 years old.  The wood is Osage Orange, which is not a common type of wood used for woodworking.  You have probably seen these trees on the streets; during the fall they drop these green fruits the size of a softball that have the appearance of having warts.  The wood has a yellow tint to it when freshly cut and can stain your skin or your clothes if fresh sap is not removed promptly.

The first step to make the table is to cut the cookie in half.  I figured that the stump was thick enough for me to be able to make two tables out of the one piece. I do not have a large enough band saw or chainsaw, so I had to do this the old fashion way… with a handsaw. It took a long time to complete but when it was worth it to be able to produce two tables. This particular piece had a hollow center, which needed to be filled if I was going to make it into a usable table, so step 2 was to FILL THE GAP! To accomplish this I used clear epoxy I have provided a link to the product that I used. In a future post I will be explaining the process of using this product since it requires a particular process in order to work properly.  The idea is for the epoxy to be as clear and free of bubbles as possible. Once cured the epoxy fuses to the wood and it can be cut, sanded, and finished. Next, I needed to make the faces of the wood flat and parallel. When it comes down to flattening a piece of wood, there are several options and the process depends largely on what tools you have available.

For a large piece of wood that may not fit within the limits of a power tool like a joiner, drum sander, or planner, the options are to sand it down for decades or remove material with a hand planer. A less tiring option is to use a router sled (work smarter, not harder!). The router sled is basically two parallel edges where a platform can move up and down while a router sits on the  platform and moves from side to side (another future post for more details). I love my router, it’s a versatile tool and fairly easy to use. One piece of advice: Buy a good router, don’t go for the cheapest option available, you get what you paid for and a better router means faster, more precise work, and less headaches. My choice is a Bosh router. I don’t have an unlimited budget (I wish!) and this is a great tool at a good price. After the flattening is done, it is time to sand the faces to a perfect smooth feel. I accomplished this using a combination of  belt sander (which takes a lot of material quickly) with a 100 and 120 grit, and finished the process with a random orbital sander with 150, 180, 240, 320, and 400 grits.  So many grits may be overkill for some people, but I have gotten such great results with this process that I am not willing to change it.  The surfaces end up extremely smooth to the touch, they are already shiny with no finishing, and you can really see the details of the wood.  The final step is to apply finishing product.  For this project I used Oddie’s Oil because it is food safe, easy to apply, smells good, and seals the wood from the inside. I applied the oil using a credit card to spread evenly (it doesn’t require much), then I worked the oil into the wood with a rag to make sure it saturated the pores. I let it sit for about 45 minutes and then buffed the surface with a lint free rag. It takes about 3 days for the wood to be fully cured and I would buff the surface to maintain the shiny finish about one a day until cured. It takes time, but finishing is a key step on any project. You can create the most beautiful structure, but if you don’t finish it well the piece does not live up to its full potential.

Of course a table is not a table without legs. Given the color of the wood and how in style mid-century modern is, I decided to use metal legs on this one. But not just any metal leg: GOLD legs! I got them on Amazon and they are perfect. The color of the legs compliments the wood perfectly and gives it a slightly more luxurious look. This is my first time using gold legs and I must say…I may do it again. I plan on making the second table soon so I can have two almost identical ones that can be placed at each end of a sofa.

I was very satisfied with the end result. My favorite part is the fact that I was able to work with a type of wood that I don’t normally see, which keeps things interesting.

If you have any questions about the materials or tools I use, please leave a comment. I will give you my honest opinion. I have created affiliate links to some of the products I use in case you are interested in buying them. I only recommend product I use and I am happy with their performance. If you make a purchase using these links ,we receive a percentage that helps us keep improving the blog.

4 responses to “Side Table made of Osage Orange”

  1. You brought out the beauty and character of the wood. I love this table! Thanks for the detailed explanation. It’s quite a process from start to finish.

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