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Building Furniture

Helping to make your table your very own...

Below are some of the build techniques we use here at A Vintage Wren such as:

Mortise and Tenon Joinery

Hand Planed Surfaces

Breadboard Ends

Hand Rubbed Oil Finish

Dovetailed Drawer Boxes


Mortise and Tenon Joinery

Our dining tables are crafted with mortise and tenon joinery which is a way of connecting two pieces of wood together without the use of mechanical fasteners (such as screws or nails). 

This technique has been used for thousands of years and it is still the best!

Mortise and tenon joinery is strong, stable and aesthetically pleasing to look at. It makes a permanent bond between two pieces of wood such

as the leg to the apron (or skirt) of the table, giving your table a lifetime’s worth of service and family pleasure.

The mortise is a slot or hole cut into one of the pieces to be joined and the tenon is the corresponding wood tongue or rail that will fit into the

mortise. The tenon is glued into the mortise and then locked in place with a wooden pin or dowel.

The legs are not detachable.

Mortise and tenon
mortise and tenon joinery
drilling table leg for wood pegs
wood pegs in table leg for mortise and tenon joint


Hand Planed Surfaces

Many of our tables come with a hand planed or scraped surface which are hand worked with the tool called a “hand planer” and "cabinet scraper" just  as it would have been done in centuries past as far back as the Roman times! Hand planing will give your table a unique antique look with slight undulations adding character and charm, a very beautiful surface.

Hand planing also adds character and an "aged" look through "tear out" which happens when the blade of plane runs over certain grain of the wood and does not come off in long smooth curls but it catches and skips over the grain. (see photos below of Pine with tear out circled in red and Oak with tear out circled in white)

Many of our hand planers and scrapers are over 100 years old and have been used by woodworkers for decades and we now have the honor

of being their caretaker and user, something we treasure immensely.

Hand Planed
antique hand planer
antique hand plane
cabinet scraper
antique hand plane
hand planed table top
hand planed oak

Breadboard Ends

Breadboard ends are boards that run perpendicular to the field of the table, they are mortise and tenoned on to the table top and have

wooden pegs holding them in place, they are a permanent part of the table top.  

Traditionally breadboard ends were the hallmark of fine craftsmanship as it added a “refined finished” end to the table by hiding the end

grain of the long boards on the field of the table, it also helps to keep the table top flat and straight.

All of the tables in our Heirloom Collection include breadboard ends while the tables in our Rustic, Simplicity Collection do not, those tables have a more rustic "plank look" on the ends.

Solid wood is a hygroscopic material, and under normal use and conditions, all wood products contain some moisture. Wood readily exchanges this molecular moisture with the water vapor in the surrounding atmosphere according to the existing relative humidity, so depending on the humidity in your home the boards on the field of the table will expand or contract in width while the boards that are perpendicular (the breadboard ends) will stay relatively uniform in length which means that when it is low humidity (like in winter with heat running) the field of the table will contract leaving the breadboard ends sticking out past the field of the table. The opposite effect will happen in the summer and fall when humidity is high, the breadboard ends will be in from the field of the table.

This is natural and cannot be avoided when using real wood.

The expansion and contraction of wood is most noticeable in its width and thickness not in length.

This natural movement is part of the charm and character of real wood, it is a living organism that very much mimics what is happening in the natural world.

The only way to avoid wood movement is to not use real wood.

Breadboard ends
breadboard ends on dining table
Company Board Extension in place with breadboard ends.png
dining table with breadboard ends
dining table with breadboard ends

Tables without breadboard ends have a more rustic, "plank look" to the ends


Our Preferred Finish

Our preferred finish is a hard wax oil which is environmentally friendly, made with renewable all-natural components, there are no harsh chemicals, solvents or smells, completely nontoxic and therefore absolutely family safe.

It will give your table a beautiful matte, velvety surface which not only enhances the natural beauty of wood but it is easy to look after, clean and maintain. Unlike a standard spray finish it won’t have the film like/plastic coating to chip or wear through. Any minor scratches or damage

can be touched up, the entire table would not need to be sanded down and recoated. 

The hardwax oil is a 2 component hardened penetrating oil which was originally created for commercial and residential floors so it is water resistant and we have read independent studies from flooring companies using this product in commercial applications (like showrooms)

and went back in 5 to 10 years to review its durability and the hardwax oil was still holding up, so it withstood snow, rain, slush, sand, etc in these places as it was a commercial structure.

We have done our own studies here at the studio and tried everything from brake fluid, to ketchup, to different types of industrial alcohols.

We have poured boiling water straight from the tea pot on it, set hot pans right out of the oven, and tested ice water left on it in the sun for an hour or so and have seen no visible damage.

We do NOT recommend doing any of the above to a table but we had to see its durability before offering to clients.

We have been using this hardwax oil for several years now and have had only positive feed back about it.


We still recommend protection for on our tables as it is an heirloom pieces but also we fully expect our clients to use their furniture

without it being "too precious". 

Photos below are:

Natural Black Walnut with Oil

Cherry with a red/brown tinted Oil,

Eastern White Pine with a reduced Walnut stain under an Oil topcoat,

Rustic Red Oak with a Walnut/Charcoal stain under an Oil topcoat.

OIL finish
walnut table top
cherry table top
pine table top
oak table top

Dovetail Drawer Boxes

Our drawers are created with dovetail joints, which is a method for joining the side of the drawer box to the front. The dovetail is renown

for its strength and resistance to being pulled apart and once glued into place it does not require any mechanical fasteners (such as screws or nails) and is almost impossible to pull apart. Its strength comes from the way the pins and tails of the joint are made; the tapered shape of the pin is held in place by the taper of the tail.

The dovetail joint is known to have been used as far back as ancient Egypt.

cutting a dovetail joint
dovetail joint
dovetail drawer box
dovetailed drawer
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