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Walnut Trestle Table

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Project by Mean_Dean posted 502 days ago 2202 views 7 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a walnut trestle dining room table. I got the idea, and the plans, from Tommy Mac’s TV show on PBS.

It is solid walnut, and follows the plans closely, except for the tusk tenons on the ends. I got this idea from one of Tage Frid’s books (maybe his #3 book.)

The table top is 60”L x 40”W, and the table itself is 30”H. It seats 4 comfortably, and will seat 6 in a pinch.

All parts, except the top are finished with Danish oil. The top is finished with several coats of wiping varnish (Bob Flexner’s recipe: semi-gloss oil polyurethane, thinned with mineral spirits.)

Now for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good: The wiping varnish finish on the top. Thinning out the polyurethane really makes the finish lay down well, leaving no un-popped bubbles. The finish really has a nice sheen to it, and I think, looks great!

The Bad: Using wiping varnish means you have to put down many, many coats of finish to get it built up to the level you want. Also means a lot of sanding between coats! The top also has breadboard ends, and as I have now discovered, the breadboard ends only line up with the rest of the top on the day you rip the top to width. After that, they are either longer or shorter!

The Ugly: The top is 40” wide, so I used 8 – 5” boards to make it. Some woodworkers believe you should use the widest boards possible, and use only 2 or 3 to make a tabletop. I was concerned about the top cupping if I used 2 – 20” boards (not to mention, where the heck do I find them!), so I used smaller, flat boards, and tried to match the grain as best I could.

Comments and questions appreciated!

-- Dean





13 comments so far

View vonhagen's profile

vonhagen

483 posts in 997 days


#1 posted 502 days ago

not true using wider boards unless they are quartesawn will cup more if they are plane sliced. by alternating the annular rings up and down it will stay flatter. also i don’t see any stretchers across the bottom as this will stabilize the top from warping and when adding stretchers do not glue them to the bottom as when the wood moves it will not check. i have built tables up to 40 feet long by 8 feet wide and use solid lumber in a lot of places but for the top i use a inert substrate and flitched veneers. most antique high end tables use a closed grain substrate and book matched veneers. also by using a lacquer finish it will flow nice and seal well, both top and bottom must be sealed a nd the great thing about lacquer it goes off fast and if you want to strip it and steam out dings or scratches by using lacquer thinner and an iron with a wet rag. you did a great job on this table and should be proud.
Blaine

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View Mark's profile

Mark

400 posts in 607 days


#2 posted 502 days ago

That table top is SHARP. I don’t know beans about table top construction, but that is out standing!

-- Mark

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112015 posts in 2210 days


#3 posted 502 days ago

Beautiful table great job

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13804 posts in 971 days


#4 posted 502 days ago

Beautiful table. Your construction is fine.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View ChuckV's profile

ChuckV

2404 posts in 2160 days


#5 posted 502 days ago

That is a wonderful table, Dean. I think that the top came out great.

-- “That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet. ” ― Emily Dickinson

View Woodbridge's profile

Woodbridge

2668 posts in 1050 days


#6 posted 502 days ago

Your table looks great. I like the top.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Rick M.'s profile (online now)

Rick M.

3875 posts in 1012 days


#7 posted 501 days ago

Trestle tables really show off the wood. I built one about half that size and should take pictures of it. I haven’t seen the Tommy Mac trestle table episode yet and was also wondering about stretchers under the top and how the top is attached to the legs.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View oldnovice's profile (online now)

oldnovice

3710 posts in 2000 days


#8 posted 501 days ago

Gorgeous table and a good choice of wood!

I built a miniature trestle table for a former manager I had when I was working and she called it a Norwegian coffee/sofa table and she specified the wood. When she retired she took it with her to Norway and it is, as of today, my only exported project.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

1781 posts in 823 days


#9 posted 501 days ago

Mean_Dean:

Fantastic table, beautiful build.

As for the finish, next time try General Finish’s ARM-R-SEAL. Its a wiping varnish, goes on very easily, very light sanding between coats (I use 4/0 steel wool), and usually 3 coats are sufficient. This leaves a nice sheen, I use semi-gloss or satin, and it never looks like a plastic coating.

Can’t tell what type or size of stretchers you used on top of the legs, but I would suggest only about 2” to 4” shorter than the width, then attach the top with old traditional wooden “buttons” or “clips” as ther’re referred to. These allow top movement without concern for checking, and still retain flatness. Besides, they are easy to make and install.

As for board width, I’ve read pros and cons both ways, and I don’t think it makes any difference, as long as you secure the top well as described above.

Yours is a great build, looks fantastic. A beautiful piece of furniture.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View workerinwood's profile

workerinwood

2708 posts in 1700 days


#10 posted 501 days ago

Beautiful!!! Great job.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

1382 posts in 1780 days


#11 posted 500 days ago

Rick M. – The Tommy Mac Trestle Table episode is from Season 1, which is out on DVD, and you should be able to get it from your local library. The stretchers (actually, battens) underneath the tabletop are identical to the lower battens on the floor. In fact, the leg assemblies are identical to each other, which speeds construction. His plans don’t call for the tusk tenons – I added that feature myself, after seeing them in one of Tage Frid’s books.

Oldtool – Thanks for the ARM-R-SEAL suggestion. When I said there was a lot of sanding between coats, I meant that, with the number of coats, I had a number of sanding sessions. Each sanding session went quickly and easily. Just knocking off the dust nibs, and getting it perfectly flat.

I attached the top to the upper battens, with 8—#8 screws. To accommodate wood movement, the outer screws sit in elongated holes to allow the screw to move along the batten as the top expands and contracts.

Thanks everyone for your comments!

-- Dean

View Fishinbo's profile

Fishinbo

11217 posts in 808 days


#12 posted 499 days ago

Your trestle table is wonderful. Like the walnut, the beautiful grains really pop with the finish. Excellent work!

View StevenAZ's profile

StevenAZ

4 posts in 457 days


#13 posted 457 days ago

Awesome build

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