Pine Trestle Table

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Over the years we've seen more trestle table designs than we can remember. They range from ornate and massive sixteenth-century Spanish tables shaped from 2" stock to the long and lean Shaker communal dining tables with gracefully arched maple feet. The table we're presenting here combines what we feel are some of the best features of many designs. Posts and rails are enhanced with stopped chamfers; the feet are long, narrow, and nicely shaped. Locking wedges are of cherry , which contrasts with the natural pine. The turned-spindle center support is a feature occasionally found in long seventeenth-century American tables, but not often seen in reproductions. If you lack a lathe, substitute a post of square stock with stopped chamfers. With the square center post and a natural finish, as shown in the photograph, this table has an elegant Scandinavian look that will fit in well with contemporary or antique furnishings.

Begin construction by jointing four % x 8 x 72" pine boards for the top, alternating the grain direction. These boards are joined with glue and %" dowel pins spaced about a foot apart. The boards should be cut slightly longer than 6' and trimmed to length after the glue has dried. You'll need five bar or pipe clamps 4' in length for the top. They should be applied on alternate sides of the slab to prevent distortion. Don't be upset if you find that the top is a bit wavy when the clamps arc removed. It will be flattened between battens later when you arc ready to attach it to the support cleats.

Next shape three support cleats and two feet from 2" pine (actual thickness is 1 ft"). Pair up the two feet and matching cleats and lay out mortises and tenons. Be sure to mark each set carefully so that each tenon can later be inserted in its particular mortise. We cut the tenons to shape using a tenon jig on the table saw, but, of course, they can be done very nicely by hand with a tenon saw. Carefully center the tenons on the feet and cleats to scribe mortises, which are drilled out and then cleaned up with a sharp chisel or cut with a drill press or router. Note that the mortise in the feel does not go all the way through; this is a bit more trouble to clean out. but provides more gluing area.

When the mortises and tenons have been cut and fit to your satisfaction, the long stretcher can be laid out and cut with tenons on each end and a ^"-diameter hole drilled in the top center to hold the spindle. Cut mortises in the posts for the stretcher tenons, taking care to get a good fit without splintered edges, particularly on the outside surfaces that are not covered by the shoulder of the tenon.

Next, lathe turn the center support post, or chamfer a square post. For turning, start with a 1 "A" turning square and lay out the turned portions with a square at each end. Reduce turned portions to a cylinder and cut beads and coves. The square portions can be planed down after the turning is completed. Use the parting tool and calipers to cut %" pins at each end. Note that the rail that will hold the turned post is \%" thick, but the chamfers reduce its thickness to l%". Therefore, the bottom square of the turned post should be no wider than while the top square fits into a 2" cleat, so it doesn't matter if it is left oversize. Drill a %" hole in the center cleat and glue the spindle into it, but do not use glue for the bottom pin. If you failed to get a snug fit of the pins in their sockets, cut a slot in

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the pins and tap in a small hardwood wedge to spread them a bit.

Fit together all components of the trestle assembly on a flat surface to make sure it is square and sits solidly. Drive posts tightly against the shoulders of the long stretcher and mark mortises for locking wedges. These mortises should be cut with a taper from on top to W on the bottom. Take care at this point not to split the ends of the rails. Drill out waste first with a W drill bit and clean up with a W chisel and three-cornered file. Wedges were shaped from cherry scrap, but any hardwood can be used. Sand the wedges and break sharp corners slightly before lapping them into place. Some fitting will probably be necessary at this point, to get the wedges to fit equally. Do not pound them in, as the stretcher may split.

Glue the posts into their respective mortises in the feet and cleats and lock them in place with dowel pins glued and driven all the way through both parts. Trim the pins flush. Do not use glue on the stretcher-post joint. Drill four X" holes through each cleat, 2" and 8" from each end.

Prepare the top for mounting by planing and sanding both sides flat. If the top is a bit wavy.

clamp two stout battens along each end to flatten it. After clamping the battens, lay the top upside down across two saw horses and locate the trestle assembly 11" in from each end and evenly spaced from front to back. Drive a #12 round-headed wood screw with washer through the holes nearest the ends of the cleats and into the top. If you cut the cleats to the proper thickness, the screws should penetrate %" into the top. There's not much room for error here, so be careful to see that the screws do not protrude through the other side, and that they grip the top tightly. Drive 2" #12 round-headed screws with washers into the remaining holes.

With all the cleats firmly screwed to the top. remove the battens. The top should now remain flat and you may proceed with finishing, which consists of a careful sanding followed by stain, if you desire, and two coats of polyurethane finish on the trestle assembly and three coats on the lop. Lightly sand between coats and don't forget to seal the underside of the top with at least one well-applied coat. A coat of furniture wax and a good buffing will add additional depth and protection to the finish.

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