Butterfly Wing Table

The design of this useful table dates back to the seventeenth century, when living space was generally cramped and one or two rooms served for cooking, eating, socializing, and sleeping. Drop-leaf tables, trestle tables with removable tops, and gate-leg designs were popular because they saved space. The butterfly-wing table derives its name from the shape of the leaf supports, which resemble butterfly wings, although we have seen tables with similar supports referred to as "Rudder tables."

This particular design is similar to one featured by Lester Margon in his fine book American Furniture Treasures. Our design has been scaled down for use as an end or occasional table, and the joinery has been revised to include the use of dowel pins instead of the original mortise-and-tenon construction. Skilled woodworkers who enjoy the challenge of the more difficult mortise-and-tenon joinery may substitute these joints, keeping in mind the fact that the mortises for the end rails must be cut in at an angle of 84 degrees to the inside face of each leg. This operation can best be done with a drill press. Tenons must also be mitered to butt against the adjoining tenons of the side rails.

Construction is begun with the legs, which are best turned from maple stock 1W square (Figure 1). Legs are 20%" in length and should be cut longer to allow for the angled cut of 84 degrees at the top. All dowel holes should be laid out on the square stock, and holes drilled before turning. Dowel-location lines should be left on the square sections of the legs to serve as guides for the location of the corresponding holes in the upper and lower rails. It's best to cut a full-size template of the leg profile to insure producing four identical legs. With the large gouge, rough the turned section of each leg to a cylinder with a diameter of VAs", then smooth down to \%" with a skew chisel. Coves and beads are then marked off with the help of the template and cut to final depth. Sand the turnings while they are in the lathe with medium to very fine sandpaper. Plane a H" chamfer on each corner of the upper and lower legs and cut the tops to the proper angle, taking care to make the cuts in correct relation to the dowel holes.

Both upper and lower rails are of ¥*" stock, preferably maple. The two upper end rails arc cut to 2 x 4)4". Set the miter gauge to 84 degrees to cut angled sides. Drill two holes for %" dowels in each end, using the leg holes as a guide for marking (Figure 2A). The lower end rails are also of stock and are cut to 1% x VAwith ends angled to 84 degrees and one dowel hole drilled in each end (Figure 2B). The two lower side rails are stock and are cut to IK x 13". Drill both dowel holes and a pivot-pin hole as shown in Figure 2C. Dowel pins in the lower end and side rails should extend 1" into the legs. It is necessary to cut the end of each pin at a 45-de-grec angle so that adjoining pins will not interfere with each other when they are driven home.

Prepare a full-size pattern of the butterfly-wings and transfer it to ¡4" maple stock. Cut out the wings with a saber or coping saw. The outboard or curved portion of each wing should be worked into a well-rounded edge. Drill the top and bottom of each wing for a XA" hickory pin. Care should be taken to drill holes perpendicular to the long axis of the wings. The table frame can now be assembled with glue and clamps. Upper end rails should be planed flush if they protrude above the tops of the legs.

We turn our attention now to construction of the top, which consists of three separate sections of %" maple. Dowel and glue the maple stock together to form each leaf and the center section. At this point you must decide whether a rule joint will be milled on the top sections as shown in Figure 3B. If you have a router with matching cutters, the joint can be cut easily. The joint may also be formed with hand tools by first cutting a bevel to remove excess stock, and then using a gouge to shape the cove along the end of each drop leaf; but this will require considerable care and patience. The original table had a center section and drop leaves with plain square edges. Either way will be authentic, but the rule joint is more attractive. If you use the rule joint, just remember to add an extra inch to the 9%" dimension shown in Figure 3B. When doweling stock to make up the leaf sections, make sure that the joints are parallel to the hinged joint. In other words, the grain of the entire lop should run in the same direction as the long side rails.

The top is in the shape of an ellipse, as was the original, and although this is more difficult to lay out than an oval, it somehow looks more elegant. We have laid out the ellipse for you and come up with the measurements you will need to make a pattern of one-quarter of the top. This can then be used to scribe the entire lop. Referring to Figure 4, tape a piece of heavy paper square to the edge of a drawing board or table, and with a T square or framing square, draw baseline AC 12%" long. Perpendicular to AC draw line AB high. On line AC carefully mark off distances of %, %, 1%, 3K 6%, and' 9%". Number these points from 1 to 6. On line AB mark off heights of 154, 3%, 5X, 7, and 10". Number these from 1 to 6. Connect lines AC and BD wiih a T square and triangle by drawing perpendicular lines from points 1 through 6. Connect lines AB and CD in the same manner. At the point where each corresponding set of lines intersects, place a dot The dots, when connected, will give you one-quarter of the ellipse. Cut out this pat-tcrn and after temporarily clamping the top sec-lions together, transfer the shapes to the top by Hopping the pattern along lightly scribed centerlines.

T he top sections may then be shaped with a saber saw The outer edge of the top should be well rounded. Hinges are located by placing the three lop sections underside up on a flat surface. Clamp lightly with a bar clamp and mark the lo-

Botterfly-Wi no Leaf 5upfof?r->^stock

canons of two pairs of hinges equally spaced. To el the lunge leaves flat it will be necessary to fougc a groove to recess each hinge barrel, as shown in the detail. After the top has been hinged, place the assembled table frame, with leaf supports, on the underside of the top and mark ihc locations of the pivot-pin holes. The top is fastened to the frame by drilling and counter-bohnp i wo holes in each upper end rail for wood screws to be driven up into the top. Drill undersized pilot holes in the lop to receive these screws.

Select a desired stain and apply sufficient coats to achieve the shade you want. Wipe off excess stain between coats. Allow stain to dry for 24 hours before applying a sealer. When ihe sealer is thoroughly dry, sand lightly and apply a good grade of low-luster varnish, sanding lighlly between coats.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment