Occasional Table episode 1

OccTableEp1 (1)

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Paul starts this project slightly differently, by taking apart and examining the table which we will be reproducing. He uses this opportunity to show some of the construction methods and techniques used to make the table, which will be touched on continually during the course of this project.


  1. BarryB on 15 October 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks team! Can’t wait to watch this!

  2. Eddy Flynn on 15 October 2014 at 4:00 pm

    fascinating !

  3. D.J. King on 15 October 2014 at 5:03 pm


    I would highly encourage you to consider posting this to your Youtube channel because your analysis of this piece demonstrates your true mastery of our craft. If I had not discovered you as early as I did, I know seeing this video would have caused me to sign up instantly! I am confident I speak for my peers when I say you continually and consistently amaze us with your knowledge and the way you teach the craft. We can not thank you enough for the public service you render and the good you are doing in the world. As significant as you 50+ years of furniture-making has been to the society, I have no doubt that the work you are doing today in imparting your encyclopaedic knowledge eclipses any former impact you made on the world thorough making beautiful furniture. If I may I would like to suggest the following title for the Youtube video: “A Modern Master Dissects the Work of An Old Master”

    • Joseph Sellers on 15 October 2014 at 5:48 pm

      We will seriously consider your suggestion.

      Thank you.

    • senrabc on 2 September 2016 at 4:28 am

      +1 on this comment. My goodness, I can’t believe I haven’t seen this until now. Paul has raised the learning here to yet another level.

  4. mike melendrez on 15 October 2014 at 5:20 pm

    wonderful project. I have been wanting to do this with furniture for some time now. I am fascinated with how thing were made in the past. Cant wait for the next phase of the project. Thank you

  5. STEVE MASSIE on 15 October 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Paul and crew, I can see this will be a great series, Thank You for this. I appreciate you taking the time to dismantle and explain what was happening, very interested. It is amazing what can be learned from this and Paul you are doing a great job of explaining. I am really excited and can’t wait until this piece is finished, I assume you will re – finish existing table so this will interesting to see how it all finish’s up.


  6. Gareth Martin on 15 October 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I swear, you don’t have to be a woodworker of any kind to find that fascinating. I’ll go further, if you don’t find that fascinating, you’re dead from the neck up.

  7. DANJO on 15 October 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Living in Virginia, USA I’ve traveled to both Jamestown Settlement and to Old Salem in North Carolina to check out the furniture craftsmanship. Its very interesting to see and think about their methods of work. So while I’ve enjoyed all the videos the commentary on this table construction is my favorite to date!

  8. moedusa on 15 October 2014 at 6:59 pm

    This one is really awesome. Thank you!
    P.S. BTW for the last two or three episodes I noticed that editing and camerawork became better.
    P.P.S. But this one is on the ultimate level of awesomeness because of the story.

  9. Michael van Zadelhoff on 15 October 2014 at 7:51 pm

    The information you give is invaluable. What a great series again. Thank you.

    One little question. Why did the craftsman breadboarded (I am sure this word is wrong ) only one end? Isn’t it common to do this on both ends?

    • Philip Adams on 23 October 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Hello Michael. The breadboard end here is used to keep the table flat, and doing both ends was not necessary and may have been impractical considering they where working to a deadline and by hand. There is nothing wrong with doing both ends for the sake of appearance.

  10. Peter George on 16 October 2014 at 12:27 am

    I never really though about craftsmen punching out the same piece day after day. I tended to think of every piece as custom when doing hand work.

    However, to make a living, most of a furniture maker’s work would be ordinary pieces for ordinary people. It’s interesting to see the techniques used in a pre-machine production environment.

  11. David Perrott on 16 October 2014 at 1:04 am

    This issue of taking the piece apart is fascinating! Some times I go to the Met Museum to look at a chest of drawers that has been taken apart to see how it was constructed. This is even better. These masterclasses are fantastic. The masterclasses and Paul Sellers are my one stop for woodworking education. Bravo to all!

  12. nsmith20 on 16 October 2014 at 1:26 am

    Great video. I really enjoyed the reverse engineering lesson.

  13. Brian Loran on 16 October 2014 at 2:40 am

    Fantastic episode! Fascinating. Can’t wait for the build.

  14. Mark-Dusty-Miller on 16 October 2014 at 2:46 am

    Been down and out for a few months but getting some strength back now. Just what I needed a nice project to get me back into the swing looking forward to this.

  15. randyrru on 16 October 2014 at 3:31 am

    First CSI, or “Craftsman Scene Investigation” Woodworking show I’ve ever seen! I’m hooked. Just when you think the Sellers family has surely reached the height of how to keep you interested, WHAM, they take it to yet another level!! Well done Mr. Sellers et al.

  16. wdelliott on 16 October 2014 at 4:36 am

    Can you date the piece?

  17. humanic on 16 October 2014 at 5:21 am

    Uau! Absolute wonderfull master classe.

    Thanks a lot for this one!


  18. mchickm on 16 October 2014 at 8:59 am

    Brilliant and unexpected turn.

    You guys always think everything out so so well.

    Looking forward to this very much.

    – Martyn

  19. johnstodden on 16 October 2014 at 10:24 am

    Great video!

    Paul, I noticed (at about 18.30) a couple of small unstopped holes in the underside of the top, where you were pointing out the triangle of stopped holes. Do you have any explanation for these?

    Is it possible that the craftsman of 120 years ago was using wood reclaimed from another piece, hence the triangle of holes which he had to stop?

    • Philip Adams on 23 October 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Hello John,
      It is unlikely that the craftsman was using reclaimed wood due to the availability of mahogany at the time. We’re still not sure what the explanation is for them being there. Will let you know if we do.

      • Tim-C on 30 October 2014 at 5:45 pm

        Thanks for the series.
        I was also sort of wondering if the top was ‘up-cycled’ from something else given the one-ended and assymetric breadboard end – maybe one corner of a larger panel? Rushing to finish my toolbox so I can make a table from my stash of skip (err…. dumpster?) -reclaimed mahogany!

        • Eddy Flynn on 30 October 2014 at 5:58 pm

          who in their right mind throws mahogany in a skip (i think i’ll start skip diving )

      • Gary on 15 August 2015 at 5:58 am

        Hello Phil,
        I was watching (actually RE-watching!) this series today. I too thought that perhaps the top had been up-cycled. I guess we can never be certain. Also, I was noticing the screws that Paul removed and it appears that they are somewhat blunt on the tips instead of a sharp point like modern screws. I have heard (I believe from Roy Underhill on his TV program) that this type of screws was used prior to 1840. If that’s the case, it might help Paul date the original piece.

  20. niclas on 16 October 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I just want to thank you for this wonderful video! I couldn’t think it would be so interesting. That we can learn so much from, at first glance, such a ‘simple’ table. Being quite a new member, I now found a fantastic source of knowledge sharing.


  21. Chris Bunney on 16 October 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Fascinating! So looking forward to the rest in this series! Thanks Paul and crew!

  22. Eddy Flynn on 16 October 2014 at 11:29 pm

    who’d of thought a £3 carboot find would creat so much interest if only the original craftsman could see what his work has become , a simple table made before television and now the subject of a world wide masterclass ,you couldn’t write it .

  23. bit101 on 17 October 2014 at 8:14 am

    This was far more interesting than I expected it to be. I was hoping you weren’t going to dwell on the investigation part, but I was glued to this video and it was worth every second.

  24. silenthill on 18 October 2014 at 2:22 am

    Very enjoyable,and Mr Sellers incredible insight into the history of the tables creation more than made up for the unfortunate news that he did not in fact invent the knife wall. 🙂

  25. Anonymous on 18 October 2014 at 5:08 am

    That’s the way to learn furniture making. Wonderful.

  26. smfield on 22 October 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I can’t understand, for the life of me, why a furniture piece like this was only about $5?!? In the States this “antique” would easy fatch $100 or more! And brown here is not necessarily a bad thing. Wonderful work, keep it up.

  27. Florian on 28 October 2014 at 8:39 pm

    The dismantling-aspect is of great interest for me. How do you proceed if the type of glue is not to your favour or if you have to open up large frames and the glue-joints are still holding strong?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Philip Adams on 30 October 2014 at 11:20 am

      Hello Florian, there are various options that it would be worth looking into. Paul has used vinegar to soften PVA in the past. If the joint is tight, there may be no need to take it apart. If you have to take it apart, there are no guarantees. You just have to feel after what will and won’t work, there is an inherent risk involved. Hope that helps.
      All the best, Phil

      • Florian on 31 October 2014 at 7:13 pm

        Hi Phil,

        thanks for your answer!

        Best regards,

  28. dsigntrail on 15 November 2014 at 3:05 pm

    I was wondering why on some projects you use mortise and tenon joints with a hauch and on some as this one there is no haunch – even though the joint and function seems to be very similar.
    There are no haunches on the bench stool and the occasional table, however there are haunches on the coffee table and the sofa table.
    So is there any rule or design consideration when to use haunched mortise and tenon joints?

  29. dvollie on 13 December 2015 at 3:05 pm

    It’s amazing what an education your knowledge provides when you show us how to analyse a past craftsman’s work. Too bad mankind has not learned this lesson in matters of the heart. Paul Sellers, you get it! I appreciate your work and more importantly, I appreciate the quiet way you go about sharing tremendous truth that is applicable in every area of ones life.

  30. sidorenko91 on 23 April 2017 at 8:27 am

    Still my favorite episode and series. Thank you!

  31. Paul Oram on 7 April 2019 at 7:42 am

    What a truly brilliant video. I would for one like to see a lot more of this type of analysis. It really connects us as users of hand tools to the original maker. What he did well, the techniques he employed, how he dealt with issues and mistakes he made.

    I’ve recently purchase several ‘unloved’ pieces of dark brown furniture from secondhand shops myself and im doing a similar thing in trying to understand how they were made as a way to educate myself.

    I also want to build a plant table with the splayed legs – so i’m going to work through these videos – but unlike to original maker, i will certainly need more than one day to complete it!

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