Tuesday, October 15, 2019

American Trestle Table - Part X - Finished. With VIDEO

Hooray! It's done!
The finished table.
This might seem like a slow moving project. It is. My first post of the idea was from last Christmas vacation.

There were a few reasons this table took so long. The main one is I built it in Germany, when I live in Spain. We still own our place in Germany, and plan to go back there one day. In the meantime, we get back there every couple of months and I get a day or two to work on it. This time I had six or seven days to finish it.

The other reason it took longer than intended, is the wood for the base was changed from painted pine to American cherry. I love cherry, but it isn't quite as easy to work as pine. Also, I had to put a lot of brain power into matching wood grain for the laminations and stuff like that.

To start things off this time around I decided it was time to drawbore the leg assemblies together. After some testing, I decided to drive 13mm pegs into 1/2" holes. The measurments ensure that the peg is just a little oversize, and leaves a nice clean finish with no gaps.
Making  drawbore pegs with my Austrian dowel plate. Sorry, neighbors!
I was a bit worried using cherry for these pegs, as cherry isn't traditionally a good wood for this. For strength, one should use oak, ash, or something that rives well. I decided to use cherry for aesthetic reasons.
Surprisingly, all seven attempts survived the dowel plates. I sorted them and the best four are on the left.
This seemed to work out really well. Perhaps I was lucky. The slightly oversized pegs helped make good looking joints.
13mm peg in 1/2" hole.
This was the last of the joinery.

Pretty much.

The next job was the decorative job of adding chamfers to every edge that will be exposed. I used a block plane and a Stanley #2 for this job.They worked well. I then used scrapers to get to the corners not reachable by the planes. I paid extra attention to the   ends of the feet and upper supports so the corners look right.
Mock up after all the drawboring and chamfers.
Now it's time to think about how to hold the top onto the base. I chose buttons, and you can read all you ever wanted to know about buttons in the last post. What I didn't show was making the corresponding mortises in the base. Layout was important for this. I used a mortise gauge to mark one line 3/8" away from the edge, and another line about 7/16" above that. I then used a second marking gauge to mark the center point between the two lines.

My buttons are 1 1/4" wide, so I made my mortises about two inches long. I used a 3/8" brad point bit, and started the mortise by putting the brad point in the center line. Then it was just a matter of drilling out the waste, and cleaning up the sides with a chisel. I left the ends of the mortises round to save a bit of work.
Cleaning up the sides of the mortise.
Once I got the first two done, I used them to layout the rest.
This side done. I'll turn it over and do the other side.
Once the mortises were complete, I could finish everything with a coat of tung oil. I'll let the oil cure for a couple months, and when I next see the table at the client's house I will give it a coat of my special paste wax.
Base is done.

Here's a shot showing the buttons installed.
Now that the base is done there is not much to do to the top. It was one solid piece, after all. No need to laminate long boards together or anything like that. What a treat! Luckily Nils had the plank flattened by CNC before I bought it, so it was nearly ready.

The only thing I didn't like about it was there were some tension cracks in the middle where the figure was the strongest. I decided to mix up some epoxy with some brown tint to fill the cracks in.
Epoxy is dry. This seems to be an efficient way to remove most of the extra.
By the way, epoxy with brown tint has the exact same consistency of chocolate syrup. I swear it smells like it, too.
Here is that same spot after card scraping and a coat of tung oil.
After all the epoxy was flattened, I scraped the whole top. It didn't take long, and I'm impressed with how much more figure can be seen on a scraped top than when it had been sanded.
The finished table.
Overall I would have to say this was one of my favorite projects of all time. Mostly because of the single slab top, but I always wanted to make this style of table.

If I could do something over on this table, it would be to re-think the tusk wedges. They look great and were fun to make. The problem is one glaring flaw: if they ever come loose, the top will have to be removed in order to tap them home again. Perhaps I can make some wedges to mitigate this, but I would have to say that this style of trestle isn't ideal because of that.

It's not enough to ruin the table. Perhaps next time some wedges that tap in from the side would be more appropriate.

Lastly is this unusual video. I'm now back in Spain, and the client will pick up the table next weekend and drive it about 1 1/2 hours to it's new home. Just to make sure she would be confident in putting it together, I made a video explaining every possible thing I could think she would need to know in it's assembly. I added it to this post as I thought you might get a kick out of it.
Note: I'm not really cross-eyed. I used my phone to make the video, and it is hard not to look at the screen while filming. If I do more videos like this, I'll have to get used to looking at the spot where the camera is.

Note #2, I didn't really re-assemble this table after breaking it down. I taped everything in reverse order. I actually disassembled the table, and re-arranged the video clips to show it coming together. Only one screw has been in it's hole more than once. It was fun trying to think what I was going to say in the next segment so I didn't sound like an idiot saying everything twice.

Let me know if you like the video, perhaps I will do more in the future.

Here are links to all of the posts from this build:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX


  1. Hey it turned out to be a lovely table in the end, good to see. Hop the client will be happy and you'll be proud!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Ty! I am really proud of the table. And, the client is happy with the photos so far. I can't wait for her to get it set up.

  2. Nice looking table, especially the top.

    1. Thanks,Ralph! I agree. It is an amazing piece of wood.

  3. You have lots to be proud of this table!
    About the video... do you know there's a guy there talking? LOL

    1. Thanks, Antonio! I agree.

      That guy I hired off the street because he was cheap.

  4. Lovely table and a great assembly video. Also, projects that started only a year ago would not be considered "slow moving" in my shop!

    1. Haha, Thanks, Jeremy. Looking at the earlier posts in the series I see that I intended for this project to take not long at all.

  5. Wow! That's one beautiful table. Can't imaging using a board that big for a top.

    1. Hey, Matt! Thanks. I was a little nervous about using it at first, but it helped that my client had already paid for it. There was no squirreling this one away waiting for the "perfect" project.

  6. Agreed with Jeremy, a year ago is not a slow moving project :-)
    Nice job. You did that slab of wood justice, looks great.

    Bob, with a house full of really slow moving projects, thank god for the month of June :-)

    1. Isn't it still June 2017?

      Thanks for the nice comment, Bob!