Dining Room Table - Trestle and Extension Dilemmas

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Forum topic by Scottlj posted 05-06-2016 02:19 PM 1293 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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89 posts in 1867 days

05-06-2016 02:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: large dining table dining table dining table extensions trestle dining table question

So after five years of promising to build a dining room table, wife says it better be this summer or we have to buy one. Having had some success with other projects, I’m semi-ready, but with some challenges.

Our goal is pretty big; The usual 31” high, then about 112” long, 44” wide, with 24” worth of extension. (So total would be 134” when open.) That’s enough to crowd 10 or 12 around if necessary for holidays. And plenty big otherwise. Probably use red oak as a I have a decent supplier for that. (Since I don’t have a jointer or planer, I have to depend on good boards from the supplier.)

Here’s a plan from the ever present ana-white site:

What I like about this is the legs and stretcher are just so easy. I thought about some kind of more square ‘trestles’ but this just seems trivial to do these legs and we’re ok with the style.

The problem is the top. I’ve thought about doing the fancy butterfly leaf in the center, like this:

...but I’m a bit intimidated by that. So I thought about just standard extending breadboards on the ends. So I’m not quite sure what to do here.

Equalizer Extension Slide Option Pros / Cons

- It’s basically like building two mini tables that get joined, and then a leaf in the center after sliding open the halves. So easier to manage solo in garage build area in any case. (I’d probably get the equalizer extenders from Osborne as it looks like they have the ones that can equally go out from center. The slides from Osborne.)

- I don’t have to do the butterfly. I can just let it expand from middle and then take a leaf out from storage under the table. This way no fancy hardware, lining everything up, worrying about the 1/8” difference when I cut the leaf in half to put a hinge on it and then have to make sure edges are good, etc.

- Expensive slides. (Unless I build them, but I don’t want to bite that off.)

- I’m not clear on how to attach slides to table top and trestles yet. I think I’d like to use threaded inserts and bolts to make it easier to break down and get into house once I’m done messing up garage with sawdust.

- I still have to do breadboards on ends, but they’ll be more permanent. (Probably mortise / tenon style, pinned in center.)

Simple Extensions of the Breadboards and End Leaves

- Seems easier, though I’m not wholly clear on how breadboards that extend can always be lined up properly. If you use alignment pins, that seems to violate all the ‘rules’ about allowing for wood movement.

- This would mean a very large table build with two 12” leaves at either end. Managing that slab will be challenging as I’d mostly be doing this alone. As well, I’d then be using very long boards which are perhaps more likely to twist or not get properly held straight by breadboards? Not sure.

I know this was really long, but any thoughts from those who have done this before? I’ve searched around both on the web and here a lot. And it seems there’s a lot of options. But most of the choices folks have made seem for smaller tables. Thanks for any suggestions!

2 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1069 days

#1 posted 05-07-2016 02:29 PM


My first suggestion is to determine the distance from the top of the seat to the floor of the chairs that will set around the dining table. A comfortable table height is 12” from the top of the dining chair’s seat to the table’s upper surface. The 31” height you mentioned may be a little too high. Nominal dining table height is 30” from the top surface to the floor. This height works well for standard dining chairs, where the top of the seat is 18” from the floor, resulting in 12” from the top of the seat to the upper surface of the table top.

The wooden Osborne table slides are fairly expensive (though a little cheaper) when compared to metal table slides. I generally prefer metal slides since these tend slide a little easier and may be more durable. However, I have used neither nor have I built a drop-in-leaf table. Whichever way you go, mounting the table slides using threaded inserts sounds like a good idea. A metal table slide can be found at:

My personal preference would be for a center leaf rather than end leafs. Cantilevering a leaf, even when only 12” wide, would be difficult to support. With elbows on the table and Grandpa with bad knees pressing against the end leaf to stand would stress the support mechanism. Additionally, the look is not that pleasing to my eye, but then this aspect is a designer’s choice. Lastly, as you mentioned, building the main table top is more of a challenge plus it could make moving the table into or out of a room a more difficult. Nonetheless, here is a YouTube video showing how the end leaf is attached and aligned.":

Building the butterfly center leaf could be done without losing that 1/8” (I presume saw kerf) of material. However, I can only envision the butterfly closing with the upper surfaces outward in the folded position. Hinging the butterfly so the upper surface of the butterfly leaf fold onto themselves as shown in the link you posted is beyond my ability to figure how the hinge would work without showing. Perhaps there are hinges made to accomplish the good-face to good-face fold.

If the two sections of the butterfly leaf are separate glue-ups and the outer edges trimmed to size later, the center 1/8” would not be lost. A single center leaf glue-up that is then cut in half would not only result in the loss of the 1/8” you mentioned, but the grain of the center leaf would not align with that of the rest of the table.

The breadboard ends are a nice look and can help keep the table top flat. The method you outlined is the way I would attach the breadboard. However, the problem with the breadboard is that as the table top expands and contracts across its width, the end of the breadboard will either extend past or recede from the edges of the table top.

The biggest challenge I see with this project is the glue-up of the top. The leaf(s), whether end or center, should be flush with the top on both the top and bottom surfaces. The easiest way to accomplish this is with a jointer, planer, and drum sander. Without these tools, having a good plan for dressing the surfaces to achieve the flush alignment is, I believe, required.

Lastly, a glue-up of long boards to achieve a wide slab is probably best done by breaking the glue-up done. Gluing two sections of the top separately and then gluing these two sections together to achieve the final width may be the best approach if relatively fast setting wood glue is used. I have heard that hide glue now available in a bottle is a slower setting glue. However, I have not used the liquid hide glue, so cannot say whether this product is indeed a slow setting glue nor how well it holds up.

View Scottlj's profile


89 posts in 1867 days

#2 posted 05-08-2016 03:20 AM

Ah. Great stuff.

Perfectly happy to go with metal slides. I’m not a purist in this regard. Whatever works.

I do have a friend not too far away that has a planer and jointer. Maybe for what I’ll be saving to build vs. buy something like this I can justify the additional gear. First, I have to figure out how to hide it from wife. These would be too big to get away with the… “huh? what? I’ve always had that. What are you talking about ‘where did this come from?”

For the glue-up, if I go with the equalizer slides to put the leaf in the center, (which I think I’m going to now), I’m not as concerned as it’s really two smaller tables. Still pretty big, but not monstrous. I’ve had success doing this with Kreg pocket holes, or using my beadlock dowel tool. Even though an advantage of the Kerg tool is you immediately get clamping pressure from the screws, this time I think I’d go with deadlock or biscuits to help with the line up / glue up.

Thanks for the tips. Super helpful.

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