Our Starlight Glowing River Tables are one of the most uniquely beautiful pieces made by Great Lakes Design. The combination of the stunning wood table top, gorgeous hand-cut riverbed, and LED light system make this table truly stand out in any room. Making these beautiful tables is a labor of love, and I wanted to show you some of the steps I take to create them.


All projects start with the raw materials. I used 4/4 quarter-sawn white oak and 1018 carbon steel for this project. As you can see, the boards are bit ‘wavy’ so we’ll have to do a little work the make them straight.


The steel was a different animal entirely; mostly because it’s 11-gage and my tig welder is only 150 amps. Using a torch, I preheated each joint and welded the frame together. The table base was then primed, sanded, primed again, sanded again, painted, sanded, and painted again to produce a very durable and beautiful paint job. I added stainless steel leaves for a little extra flair.


Now it’s time to build the table top. First, we start by working the lumber and gluing it together to create the panels. Once the panels are together, I can cut the center channel for the river. I then routed the edges to create the lip for the glass to sit in. Afterwards, the panels are glued to a plywood core that I pre-stained to gray. The tabletop is one piece now, so I traced the river and sent it to the glass company to have cut.


Now we can finish the table top by adding the frame. The sides of the table were cut and fit using box joints on the corner. The reason we use these types of joints in woodworking is because wood moves with the changing seasons; in particular, the changing humidity. It does not move much, but enough to break solid joints and cause cracks in the wood. These types of joints allow for wood movement. The sides move in out while the front and back are stationary allowing the table enough room to expand.

Now that the table top is built, we can begin finishing. I sanded and smoothed everything out before I began applying any finish. For this project, I did a white wash basecoat. This literally means, to some effect, that I painted the table white and washed off most of the paint, leaving behind a faint white ‘wisp’. This base coat was sanded once again leaving the surface smooth and ready for stain. I mixed a gray stain with some dark walnut to produce an ‘aged’ look in the areas where the paint was washed out. Once the stain had dried, I applied a coat of oil-based varnish, followed by two coats of our professional spray-on topcoat. Once the final coat was dry and cured, I polished the table’s surface with a very fine sanding pad to produce a satin finish while also giving the table a more ‘natural’ feel.


Once the finish was completely cured, the base was attached. After a long wait for the glass, I could finally install the lights, fit the glass, and prepare for shipment. The completed table is remarkable and most definitely a one-of-a-kind piece.

What do you think of our Starlight Glowing River Table? Let us know in the comment section below!

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