5212 Pulaski Ave.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19144
Philadelphia Furniture Workshop

Re-sawing a plank

Butterfly key template

Live edge of plank

Bridle joint

Nod to Nakashima

Instructor: Mario Rodriguez
9:00 am - 4:00 pm (day)
Maximum Class Size: 12

The late George Nakashima’s tables can be found in homes, galleries, and museums around the world. His unique designs are unmistakable; often featuring gorgeous book-matched slab tops and highlighted with his signature dovetail or butterfly keys. PFW’s design was inspired by the timeless beauty of George Nakashima’s furniture.

Our coffee table design (approx. 24”w x 44”long x 16” h) makes the best use of locally available slab sawn wood.  This si sometimes curly maple, or cherry, or walnut.  If needed, we accent the plank with one or more dovetail keys.  Each student then designs his or her own base, with our assistance.  There are many possibilities.

The 5 day class will begin with a discussion of flitch sawn wood, providing book-matched boards for the top.  Next, students will explore the outline, color, grain patterns, and arrangement of their boards in order to create the most interesting top to showcase the wood to its best advantage.

Once the top boards are milled and joined, students will carefully inlay a pair of dovetails keys using a router inlay kit and then complete the fit with razor-sharp chisels.   The base is constructed of 8/4 stock, carefully joined to provide a strong and solid platform for the top.

The construction of this project will be a thorough and thoughtful introduction to important furniture-making skills, involving: wood selection, re-sawing, milling and gluing up, inlays, and complex joinery. The completed coffee table will be a piece for a lifetime; one to be enjoyed for years to come.

Cost: $800 (including lunch and but not including any materials). Alan devotes considerable time and effort to locate live edge planks of the desired quality and sizes. In recent years, this has become increasingly difficult. Last year, we were able to purchase a black walnut tree, felled and slabed about 10 years ago, and air-dried since.  It is from a former wood supplier to George Nakashima. We had the wood surfaced and it was gorgeous, with a range of colors not found in kiln dried walnut.  This year, as we get closer to the calss date, we will source the best wood we can.  Generally, the wood cost is about $400 per student.

In order to register, please call us at 215-849-5174, or drop us an email and we will forward the registration materials.


  • July 25-30, 2016 - days