Custom Slides For An Extending Table

A dining table's leaves come out of hiding when the whole family gathers, so there's a bit of ritual around the act of putting them in place. Unfortunately, the act is often an ugly one, with people tugging in vain at opposite ends of a table, diving to hold up a suddenly unsupported expanse of mahogany, or groping for hidden cam locks. I wanted to make the act of adding a leaf to be a pleasure, so 1 designed an extension system for my "Wenge Trestle Table."

To avoid all the problems of a table that splits in the center, I decided to add a leaf at both ends. I arrived at the idea of having a pair of cleats screwed to the underside of each leaf. Each cleat would fit snugly into a slotted sliding apron. I had been working with extruded metal U-channel on another project, and it occurred to me that I could make the same shape in wood and achieve the strength and rigidity this job demanded. I made a long, T-sectioned hanger, which is screwed and glued to the underside of the table, and a mating slide with a T-shaped channel. When the slide is pulled out, the leaf's cleat drops right into it. I fitted the slide with a stop and an end block, both very carefully positioned, so the leaf is a pleasingly snug fit.

I made adjustable stops to limit the travel of the aprons. Each stop

When pulled out slotted sliding aprons accept cleats on the underside of the table's leaves.

had a block screwed and glued to the underside of the table, and a disk of Baltic birch screwed to the apron. J put the screw through the disk off-center, so it acts as a cam to permit fine-tuning. I glued leather to the block where the disk made contact.

I made all the visible parts of the mechanism of wenge. However, for the crossbar of the T, a thin piece that must

Strong, smooth-sliding mechanism makes it simple to add a leaf.

glide smoothly and take a lot of stress. I used Delrin, a tough, slippery plastic akin to Teflon but very dense. I've also used phenolic in this application, but Delrin is easy to plane, drill, saw and even joint with woodworking tools. I used tension washers, which are slightly cone shaped, to make certain the hanger screws would stay tight.

Wenge hanger

Baltic birch disc hits block, limiting travel of slide.

Delrin plastic for smooth action

=nsion washer keeps screw tight despite wood movement.


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