Here is a picture of a trestle table that I recently completed. I really enjoyed this project because it allowed me an opportunity to do some things I don't do very often such as through wedge tenons. This project was also a bit different because I didn't have to supply the wood. The customers had some cherry that was cut from their property and had milled up a few years ago. They had been storing the wood up in the loft of the workshop and it was plenty dry for this a table.
This next picture shows the wedge mortise and tenon joint that I used for the trestle-to-post joint. The key to this type of joinery is that you have to angle the mortise at the top and bottom from the outside to the inside. (If I get anybody posting a comment who doesn't understand what I am saying here, I will post a drawing of what I mean.) On the through tenon I needed to cut a kerf on the band saw before I put the joint together. Once the joint is glued and slipped into place I tap in some wedges with glue until the joint is locked into place. A word of caution here. You need to have this joint just the way you want it and really be ready to have this part glued together because once this joint is done there is no way you are taking it apart. That's the beauty of this joint--once done, it won't ever give out or fall apart. It is completely locked in.
Below shows the breadboard end. This is a pretty important part of the table in that the breadboard will help to keep the table end flat. Being that the overhang is about 12 inches, the top may have a tendency to cup. The joinery that I use is a pegged mortise and tenon joint. You can see the pegs that I used in the picture. When you do this joint, there is one very important step you have to keep in mind because if you don't, your table top will develop a couple of huge cracks down the length of the top. You have to let the top expand and contract with the different seasons. The way you do this is not glue the mortise and tenon together. How will it hold together you say? Well that is what the pegs are for. Your mortises have to be oversize and the peg holes through the tenon have to be elongated so the table will move within the joinery. One additional step I use is a draw-bore peg. This is an off-center hole in the tenon that, when I drive in the peg, it actually draws the breadboard tighter to the table. This ensures that the joint won't open up at some point in the future.
Here is a picture of the legs. You will notice that it is laminated together. This isn't because I didn't have thick wood to use. I did this because it is stronger. If you look at the grain in the legs, you will notice that with this design there is an awful lot of short grain that could snap fairly easily if some one was to jump on the table. By laminating, the grain from one board actually strengthens the other one. I would bet that two people could tap dance over the legs and it would hold just fine.
Here is a picture of the underside. You can see the design of the stretcher that is attached to the top, as well as the pegged mortise and tenon joints where the post attaches to the feet.
It was a great project and I appreciated the opportunity to do it! This table is a great example of custom furniture fulfilling the needs of a customer better than something from a traditional furniture store. Not only is the table full of hand work and traditional joinery that will insure that the table can last generation, the customers got to have a table made using their own wood--wood that came from their property. When the day comes that their kids inherit the table, it will be just that much more special.
Again, if you have any suggestions for a blog topic or have any questions regarding this blog, please feel free to post it in the comment section. Also, please email me if you have a special project in mind that you would like to work together on.
Until next time
Eric Johnson's Furniture