Bubinga Trestle Table #1: Massive Board and Table Top

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Blog entry by DesertWoodGuy posted 07-22-2010 07:35 PM 3323 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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This trestle table design is in a Modern Art Nouveau style and the table top started with a board that can only be described as MASSIVE. With an average width of 39 inches across and an impressive 15 feet long, the 2” thick board featured two live edges (flitch or boule sawn) and not a single straight grain in the whole big board. I purchased this big board for a little over $1,000 plus another $145 for freight from Gilmer Woods. That might seem a bit much for some, but as this was a wedding present for my wife, I thought it worth it. And, when I did the math, the cost was a little over $19 a board foot – for highly figured Bubinga that is a very good deal.

I recently came across a posting here when I did a search out of curiosity for Bubinga projects. The posting, “What should I do with this board?” was about a board very similar in figure to mine. I was surprised by some of the answers. Several folks suggested he cut it up into veneer! I say hell no, that is the whole point of getting a big board, right? I guess I’m not that crazy about veneer. First, you can always get veneer- sadly they always save some of the best stuff for veneer. Second, this is not a production run- you are building a very unique piece that deserves a unique board. Besides, I love the thought and concept that a board is one solid piece- I wonder if that makes me a purist?

Before shipment, I had the board cut into three equal pieces five feet each. Using two of the pieces that were trued along one edge with a Festool circular saw and sliding guide (incredibly designed tool). Then I routered each edge and splined and joined them. I decided on breadboard ends for the table top made of 8/4 Wenge, as I did not want end grain to show. Also, to add a design element, I added inlaid 4/4 pomelle Bubinga.

The breadboard ends were quite a challenge- essentially they are joined to the table top with a massive mortise and tenon. First I routered each end of the table, top and bottom for the tenon, using a plane to fine tune the tenon. For the Wenge mortise, I did not want the tenon to show, so I did a hidden tenon. On the table saw, I marked where the cut would start and stop. I did some test cuts to measure how much each turn of the handle raised the blade. I then lowed the blade to just below the surface of the table, placed the Wenge at the pre-set starting point, started the saw and raised the blade the correct number of turns, pushed the Wenge to the stopping point, then lowered the blade and shut off the saw- voila!, one big mortise.
I pinned the tenon with eight hidden floating walnut pins from underneath, so as to allow movement of the bubinga board.

I am now working on the two table legs and trestle. The trestle will be a live edge cut off piece from one of the straight cut boards.

Some of you might be wondering about the 41” wide left overboard. One long piece of the board will be a hallway table. The rest will be the seat backs for the chairs. The chairs will be similar to my Argyle chair, but with supple burnt orange leather seats.










-- Matt - WildFire Designs

5 comments so far

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3695 days

#1 posted 07-22-2010 08:22 PM

wow, looking great! I’m getting close to picking up a special board like that in the future. I think it’s time to next the next step in lumber quality (-: great work. you did the piece justice!

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3276 days

#2 posted 07-22-2010 08:31 PM

Will be a very nice looking table when complete. Bubinga is a pleasure to work with and finishes beautifuilly.
I look forward to your posting of the finished table.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2953 days

#3 posted 07-22-2010 09:58 PM

Wow, what a board. :) This is going to be an heirloom, for sure.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View naomi weiss's profile

naomi weiss

207 posts in 3361 days

#4 posted 07-24-2010 08:34 PM

Wow—the wood is absolutely gorgeous, but then, so is the craftsmanship!

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2908 days

#5 posted 07-24-2010 08:54 PM

This is why we work wood! What a stunning piece of wood. Lucky bride!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

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