Napkin Holder

Dressing up one of life’s necessities

This attractive napkin holder with its leaves at opposing angles will add pizzazz to any table. The chamfered leaves appear to float just above the surface, adding a subtle shadow line to the gently curved feet. The straightforward construction makes this a fun project to work on with a youngster or to batch-build for holiday gifts.

While the project is simple, be aware of a few technical details. Because the leaves are relatively thin, they are prone to warping, so use strong, properly-dried stock with straight grain. And run the grain in the leaves vertically for strength. Finally, consider milling your stock to 1/2" thick and letting it acclimate for a few days before planing to final thickness, especially if you’re resawing.

Construction Notes

  • Mill the parts. The leaves can be easily resawn at the bandsaw.
  • Cut the dados. Set up a dado blade that matches the thickness of the feet, and adjust it to make a 1⁄8" deep cut. Hold each squared leaf blank vertically against a tall, auxiliary miter gauge fence. Set up a stop to locate the dado and make the cut. Rotate the leaf edge-for-edge to cut the second dado. Adjust the width of the dado blade to match the thickness of the leaves and reset the height to 1⁄2". Reposition the stop and cut the dados in the feet.
  • Shape the panels. Fasten the leaves together using double-stick tape with the outside face of one adhered to the inside face of the other. Transfer the pattern to one blank and bandsaw to rough shape. Refine the curves with a stationary sander before unsticking the pieces and adding the chamfer to the outside edges.
  • Curve the feet. Nip the corners of the feet at the bandsaw, and sand to refine the curves.
  • Drill for dowels. Sand all the parts, glue, and assemble. Drill 11⁄4"-deep holes through the feet and into the leaves for the 3⁄16"-diameter reinforcing dowels. Apply your favorite finish.
  • Wipe your lips. Load the holder, remove one napkin, and use it to politely dab the corners of your mouth.

Two leaves, two feet, four dowels

Shaped leaves with shallow notches sit in deeper notches sawn into two separate feet. Short lengths of dowel reinforce the joinery. 

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