12-foot oak library trestle table as bench?

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Blog entry by MorganTS posted 01-21-2015 12:31 AM 1790 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Scholars: When my wife and I were kids we picked up a lovely, battered 12-foot solid oak library trestle table from Duke Salvage for a couple hundred bucks. Two-inch top. It was our office table for years as we dragged it around with us, paying piano rate to move it. The top weighs, I dunno, 80,000 pounds.

For the last 15 years it has been in our garage as occasional project table and world’s heaviest shelf. So my kids bought me a table saw and I am now a newly, hopelessly addicted shop junkie. I daydream furiously about jigs. I’m thinking about converting the monster library table into my workbench. I have a couple questions that I would ask you guys if I knew you. (1) Is this an impious use of a giant slab of old solid oak (80 board feet)? I’m thinking of stripping the veneer and cutting it down to 7 feet, and then slowly working my way through the leftover 33 board feet making stuff out of oak. (2) Is it reasonable to add a height extension to the trestles to raise it to shop table height? There are heavyweight struts/joists between the trestles. The likely ploy would seem to be to add height below the trestles, raising the trestle legs and struts. Is there a way to do that with stability? The shortened table would make a glorious shop bench that still weighs as much as a piano.

My wife is an historian and she feels we would insult the venerable old library table by converting it into a shop bench. I think it would exalt the table. We could sell the table as is and I could buy some material for a bench, but I’m pretty sure the table wants to be my bench. What do you guys think of the ethics and the mechanics? Mo

6 comments so far

View Mean_Dean's profile


4946 posts in 2570 days

#1 posted 01-21-2015 01:26 AM

I don’t know, man…......

I’m leaning toward agreeing with your wife. This old library has a history to it—it is a piece of history! I’d think long and hard about taking a saw to it….

-- Dean

View _Daniel_'s profile


38 posts in 850 days

#2 posted 01-21-2015 02:32 AM

It is your table to do with as you please. However, since you asked, I agree with your wife. This table deserves to not be chopped up. If you need materials for a workbench, why not refinish the old table and sell for a handsome sum? Someone would love this table for what it is. Alternatively, why not keep the table? If you haven’t the room (and it is a LARGE table)—sell it.

View Buckethead's profile


3140 posts in 1291 days

#3 posted 01-21-2015 02:47 AM

If the table had fallen into disrepair to a point that repair wasn’t feasible, then I’d be first to say go for it.

It’s looking like an intact labor of love from a former craftsman. What a shame to undo it.

You guys may be bored with it now, but I’d rather see it remain what it is. Like others said, it’s your table, so your decision.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View jdmaher's profile


381 posts in 2002 days

#4 posted 01-21-2015 12:05 PM

It’s your table and you should follow your heart, but you DID ask . . .

PLEASE sell it, unscathed, and buy new material for your new bench.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View MorganTS's profile


2 posts in 645 days

#5 posted 01-21-2015 02:26 PM

Jim, I DID ask, and I’m glad for your opinions—which certainly trend a certain way. As for the table’s condition, the top veneer was mauled long ago by a hundred years of students, and has since weathered badly. But the base is in great shape, and in truth, the table is probably immortal. I’m not sentimental, but I’m respectful. I suppose I’ll sell it. I’m not set up to mill an aircraft carrier deck into boards anyway, but it would have been something new to try. I do wonder who is going to want this giant table. It’s pretty much the oddest thing we’ve ever owned. A woman from a reclaimed furnishings shop is coming to look at it. I’m looking greedily at all that floor space. Thanks. Mo

View MyHogany's profile


66 posts in 859 days

#6 posted 03-15-2015 05:14 AM

Having just finished a trestle table along the same lines (8 feet long plus 2 – 1 foot extensions), I can sympathize with the floor space issue. You can try contacting new age centers, as many like minded people with few resources but great need and lots of space can benefit from it’s use.

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