Wednesday, March 27, 2019

American Trestle Table - Part VII - The Trestle Joinery

Once I got the trestle flat, square and smooth, it was an easy matter to lay out some tenons and start cutting. I decided to make the tenon stick out 4" from the outside of the leg, so including the 2 1/2" for the leg, the tenon needs to be 6 1/2" long.
Looks like a good job for my big-honking BadAxe tenon saw.

One side done on both faces of the tenon.
It was clear once I flipped the board and started cutting the other side, that my tenon saw isn't 6 1/2" deep.
That's as deep as I can get.
A back-less saw is in order. The perfect saw would have been my Ryoba Dick saw, but that saw is in Spain. A pity, since it has such a narrow kerf. I pulled out the finest rip saw that I have, which is something like 12 PPI to finish the job.
This one gets deeper.
That took forever, so I think I wound up finishing the cut with my 5 PPI ripsaw, which worked great. However, The one face of that tenon was pretty ugly. Sadly I didn't take a picture of it, but it looks like my line got off a bit about half way down and the saw bent a little to the inside of the board.

The damage is still a little visible, so I need to decide how best to fix it next time I'm back. I could just plane it down, making the tenon much narrower than the mortise, which would show, I could plane that down and put a patch (I have the cutoff which would match the grain nicely) on either the tenon or inside the mortise. I also could cut an inch or two off of the end and make everything a bit shorter. I'm sure it would still look just fine. Perhaps I should just leave it.

On with the rest of the joints.

My crosscut saw and shoulder plane made quick work of sawing the cheeks off all together.
Cutting the tenon cheeks.
After this, I removed the top half of the tenon so that it would fit in my 3" tall mortise.
It fits well, but you can see some of the damage if you blow it up.
The cross brace that goes on the top of this joint is a little fatter at the top than at the bottom, so it will need some tuning to be perfect.
Here's generally what the joint will look like.
For the second tenon, I decided to do the crosscuts for the cheeks first, followed by removal of the unused part of the tenon. Perhaps a narrower tenon won't turn out so ugly in the end.
You can see here I crosscut the upper part of the tenon that will be removed.
This was much easier in the end. Actually, it might not have been easier, but for one reason or another, it turned out much cleaner.
The second tenon.
All in all, I would say this will turn out nice. The joints are tight enough to stand on their own with no glue or wedges in them yet.
The base.
I will drawbore and wedge the joints for the legs, and the tenon will be removable with a wedge to hold the tusk tenon joint. Should I make the wedge from cherry, or should I make them something exotic like ebony?
A preview of the completed table.
The base is plenty strong to support the top. It is not screwed down, so it is a bit rattly at the moment. The top does rock a little on the cross supports. Eventually I will screw the top down with buttons, and add a center cross support. Hopefully the top will flex enough that I won't have to do any more flattening on it.

The top does have a few checks that will need either butterfly keys or epoxy. I'm thinking epoxy will be the best answer in this case.

Sadly, I had to leave for Spain after this. I'm not sure when I'll get back to it, but it is starting to look like a table-shaped object.

Still to do:
  • sink mortises in the tusk tenons and fit wedges.
  • fine-tune all of the M&Ts to ensure everything goes together perfectly.
  • drawbore the leg tenons.
  • chamfer all the sharp edges.
  • make buttons and mortises in the cross beams to hold them.
  • address the cracks in the top and smooth the top surface.
  • MAYBE bevel the underside of the 1 1/2" top to make it look lighter.
  • add finish.
I wish I could just finish this project, but we'll all just have to be a bit patient.

Previous posts:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI


  1. Nice progress! I think ebony would look nice as a third color in the mix, taking into consideration that the cherry will darken over time I think ebony would go well with it. Just my 2 cents!

    1. Hi Rudy! Thanks for the comment. I have some ebony here in Spain, I'll have to see if any of it is appropriate. I could fashion my wedges here and sink them the next time I'm in Munich.