I recently came upon two 5 panel doors that were being discarded. I knew that underneath the many layers of paint and varnish or shellac the doors were constructed from fine grain mostly quarter sawn Douglas fir. With a little work I was able to salvage enough material to build two shaker style end tables from one door.
The doors were interior doors so the rails and styles measured 1 3/8" thick. This meant that after removing the paint and sizing the stock the material measured 1 1/4" thick. This ultimately determined the size of the legs which are 1 1/4" square at the skirt and then tapered in the traditional shaker style to a little less than 3/4" square. Another constraint was the material for the top which came from the flat panels of the door. After removing paint and planing, the panels measured just under 1/2" thick and allowed for a glue up 16 1/2" square. It was fun to design the table to fit the limitations of the stock. Overall I was pleased with the proportions. The thin top and narrow legs made for a delicate yet sturdy little table.
I used a circular saw to rip the styles off of the door. I cut just inside of the profile so that the panels remained as large as possible. These doors were assembled with cope and stick joinery meaning that the rails were coped to fit over the profile on the styles. Traditionally this joint would be reinforced with a mortise and tenon but these doors were joined at the intersections of the rails and styles with dowels.
Once the styles were removed it was easy to knock the panels and rails apart with a hammer.
Here are the rails with the paint removed and planed down to 1 1/4". I resawed two rails to make the skirt pieces for each table. Here you can see the dowels in the ends of the blanks. They show up throughout the table and add a bit of character to the piece.
Here are the panels before and after paint removal and sizing. It took two and a half panels glued up to make one top.
After sizing the skirt pieces and tapering the legs I milled open mortises on the legs and tenons on the skirts.
Securing the thin top to the table took a little experimentation. In the end I used four wooden cleats that grab shallow mortises on the skirt. I used brass screws and epoxy to secure the cleats to the top.
Ready for a lamp and a few back issues of Fine Woodworking magazine.