Mission Style End Tables

Apr 18, 2020

This project began when I was talking furniture with my friend, Tim who expressed his appreciation for Mission style furniture. He showed me and old book on Mission Furniture his daughter had gifted him and pointed out a library table that really struck him. It had all the elements he appreciated in Mission style furniture, such as the vertical balusters on the end legs, along with the bottom shelf being an integral structural part of holding the legs together with the shelf by wooden wedges pressing all together as a unit. This particular detail I’ve noticed is missing from some replica Mission style furniture. Tim asked if this would be something I could make for him, but scaled down to be 2 end tables. I said, “Absolutely!”

mission style table with vertical ballusters
mission style table shelf with wooden blocks

Tim provided me with the overall dimensions for height, length and width. I then scaled down the Library table design elements to the dimensions Tim provided, being mindful to keep an appropriate visual scale from the library table that provided the inspiration for this project.

Normally, Mission style furniture was made from white oak, but I decided to use dark walnut since Tim’s existing furniture is dark. The Library table did not have a drawer, but I felt this was a needed feature for an end table for keeping the knick-knacks we all store, such as a tv remotes, books, glasses etc.

I finger jointed the drawer box and made a simple wooden slide system in keeping with the classical style of the design, as opposed to a modern day drawer slide.

finger jointed drawer

I added a band of oak around three sides of the drawer front for a bit of contrast (an artist’s liberty was taken here).

band of oak around drawer

The drawer front is cut from the front-facing piece of the table so that the grain continues throughout the front frame.

drawer front detail
mission style table - top and side view

The tapered legs are each made from two pieces of dark walnut to prevent warping and possible checking. The table frame is tenoned into mortices on the legs and glued together. The table top and shelf are also made from two pieces that have been joined by biscuits and glue, then flattened by hand plane and sanding.

custom mission style end table

Once the tables were built, I proceeded to wipe them with a wood sealer and give them a coat of dark walnut stain to add depth. I then finished them with several coats of a satin polyurethane. The final step was a coat of wax on the table top and shelf. I also added little felt feet since I knew they would be going onto a wood floor.

When I delivered the end tables to my customer, he was blown away! But the best compliment I got was when Tim phoned and told me he showed them to his daughters who proceeded to fight over who would get them in the will. Ha! I wish you long life, Tim!

handcrafted mission style end table - open drawer