Ideas on the best way to go about making this table...

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Forum topic by tworedballs posted 07-06-2010 02:26 PM 1190 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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36 posts in 2312 days

07-06-2010 02:26 PM

I’m putting this here because it is a question about tools (or lack there-of) and how I should go about getting this done with what I have. Circular saw, a few hand planes, router, jigsaw.

I have a prospective client that asked me if I could make a trestle table in the same style as one she found online. I told her to send me a picture of the thing so I could get an idea what she wanted.

This is it.

Eddie Bauer trestle table

Now, I’m looking at it and it’s got some serious size to it but I don’t have a bandsaw, so making some of the curved cuts would be a little tricky for me. This is what I’m thinking, so please let me know if there would be a better solution.

1) Make template for feet and cut out individually using jigsaw and then laminate together.

2) Make template for the 2 large turned ends of the trestle, then laminate and finish with hand planes.

3) Laminate the thru-tenon and install into feet.

4) attaching the turned ends to the feet – I have no idea on this. Maybe using some threaded furniture bolts?

Top should be a simple biscuited glue-up and then cut the ends to shape and attach the apron.

Any thoughts on this before I start? Thanks!!

13 replies so far

View rhett's profile


734 posts in 3089 days

#1 posted 07-06-2010 05:36 PM

My thoughts are that if you lack the machinery and/or know how, to make a piece of furniture, you probably should not make it for a paying customer.

That being said, the trestles are not solid wood, they are a four piece mitered column. I can only guess that the large stretcher and feet are also hollow forms. The bowed ends of the top have a matching curved apron underneath them. This will be especially difficult to accomplish without a bandsaw.

I looked up this piece online to see what it would cost your client to buy. Please tell me that you aren’t thinking of undercutting this price. If someone asked me to build a table cheaper than what they could buy one for, I would tell them to go buy the cheaper table. Unless you want to run a pro bono woodshop.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View tworedballs's profile


36 posts in 2312 days

#2 posted 07-06-2010 05:48 PM

Thanks for the reply, Rhett. From what I saw online this table weighs 330+ lbs., so I’m not sure that anything is boxed on it. Not sure why I would need a bandsaw to make curved aprons, can you elaborate on this? I was thinking they would be laminated oak pieces, maybe 1/4” thick and bent over a form until dry.

I would not be selling this for under the asking price online. With the profits I would be starting my woodshop tool collection with a table saw, jointer and planer – basics.

View rhett's profile


734 posts in 3089 days

#3 posted 07-06-2010 06:34 PM

You can make a whole lot with very little. The question is can you make something worthy of selling.

You don’t need a bandsaw to accomplish stack lamination, but it helps in making the 1/4” strips for laminating without lots of waste.

As far as the 330lbs. MDF outweighs oak. Anytime a furniture description includes the words solid oak and oak veneer, you can rest assured there is mdf in there. Plus it states in the description that the legs are joined via “boxed stretcher”.

Think this project all the way through.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View tworedballs's profile


36 posts in 2312 days

#4 posted 07-06-2010 07:48 PM

@Dave, I know it’s an ambitious undertaking for my limited [power]tool supply, but I figure that if I take my time and am careful I can get it done with stellar results. After thinking over what Rhett has pointed out, I could eliminate the curved feature on the trestle legs and just box them using oak, laminate the feet and still use a thru-tenon with all the laminated pieces cut individually with my jigsaw from a template and have minimal finishing work left after glue-up to make it look nice.

@Rhett, I could probably make a hybrid stretcher that was a laminated tenon with a box around it to give it the thick profile desired. This would save on material costs and give me the ability to make it as thick as needed while still maintaining the strength of the thru-tenon joinery. IMO, a table is only as good as the base, so I want it to be sturdy, strong and have some weight to it.

Thanks again for your replys. Any other ideas?

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2496 days

#5 posted 07-06-2010 08:16 PM

I don’t want to discourage you but I remember a phrase from my professional days that may fit here, “It’s better to turn you down than let you down.”

If you are trying to build a reputation as the “go to guy” for woodworking, one poorly done project can do more harm than the good that comes from a dozen well gone projects.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Don's profile


514 posts in 2495 days

#6 posted 07-07-2010 05:33 AM

I would never attempt a project like that without a bandsaw. I’m sure it can be done but it will be significantly more labor to achieve the same level of quality. Since your’re planning on using the profits to buy tools anyway you might want to collect a deposit from the client and purchase a bandsaw with that.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View Ger21's profile


1047 posts in 2553 days

#7 posted 07-07-2010 06:00 AM

You’re going to build that for $1500 and make enough to buy a table saw, jointer and planer? Are you going to include the two extension leaves?

I’d like to know how long you think it’ll take you?

I’d build a router table and template route the parts before laminating. Far more consistent than cutting with a jigsaw. Rough cut with a jigsaw, and clean up with a router. It’ll save a ton of time in the long run.

-- Gerry,

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2377 days

#8 posted 07-07-2010 07:02 AM

Well kid, you’ve got ambition, I’ll give you that.

As you can tell, the pro’s here think you’re crazy, and I tend to agree with them. If you don’t know what you are doing, and don’t have the proper tooling, you are going to spend an extraordinate amount of time on this project, and will probably (not necessarily) make some significant mistakes along the way and deliver a sub-par end product.

So, you might want to reconsider taking the commission … you can only screw up your reputation once.

I don’t mean to discourage you, I just want you to think long and hard about the project.

That said, I did see this exact table here on LJ … poke around a bit, and I bet you can find it. (I’m sorry, but I don’t feel like doing the leg work right now.) I would be surprised if the LJ who posted the project won’t give you some good insights into how to build the thing.

View vicrider's profile


179 posts in 2320 days

#9 posted 07-07-2010 08:18 AM

that is a huge project to undertake with limited tools. I would hesitate to bid it at that price even with a complete shop. $1500 just ain’t that much money anymore, and your really creating a custom piece that should last years and years.

-- vicrider

View tworedballs's profile


36 posts in 2312 days

#10 posted 07-07-2010 03:27 PM

The client said she would want it around 60” in length with no leafs. She has limited space.

Wow, I didnt think so many would be skeptical of being able to accomplish this with limited tools in a condition that would be suitable to sell. I almost want to build it just for myself to see how hard it would be.

And I don’t think I mentioned a selling price of $1500, especially if I were to be using red or white oak throughout the piece, as opposed to bits and pieces as well as veneers like the Lane piece. I would have to get final dimensions before I could even know my materials cost.

As for how long I anticipate it would take, I figure I could have the feet cut out and laminated for both sides and finish sanded in a weekend, the stretcher would be about a day with glue-up and the trestles would both be about a day with glue-up. that leaves the top and finish work, so I’d say a month total to get the project completed. Maybe a week longer.

View vicrider's profile


179 posts in 2320 days

#11 posted 07-08-2010 06:24 AM

I see that I got the $ amount from a previous poster, not from you. Sorry.

I think that some of us are skeptical ‘cause we’ve been there. I think that anyone who’s tried to make a living from woodworking has taken on big projects for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is just to have the experience of doing it. Believe me, I have spent hours and hours working for next to nothing just to buy another tool or learn another technique. Spiral staircase – big loss in $ but huge experience. Intarsia entry way doors – same. First European cabinet kitchen with double sided laminate/oak ply and 32mm hinges – didn’t make money but learned how to do it and made money on the next 20 kitchens.

At any rate, if you feel like you want to do it, go ahead. at least someone will pay something for you to learn lots of new processes…...we shouldn’t be holding you back.

As an old partner of mine used to say ‘leap froggie, there ain’t no anchor tied to ya!’

Good luck.

-- vicrider

View BTKS's profile


1984 posts in 2886 days

#12 posted 07-08-2010 07:35 AM

Do what you think you can get done! Don’t let extra hours or labor discourage you. If you know it’s a tough job going into it and it is a tough job and no profit. You were right, if you make something to be proud of and learn along the way then even better.
I say think it over and refer back to the first sentence.
Lots of luck, BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View rhett's profile


734 posts in 3089 days

#13 posted 07-08-2010 01:22 PM

If you think you can’t, then your right.

I do not ever want to be accussed of telling someone that something cannot be done. I only speak from experience and know what it takes to actually pull something like this off.

As many have said before, your reputation as a craftsman is up for debate anytime you make something for someone else. If you do an excellent job, your client will most likely tell 1 person, if you do a terrible job, your client will most likely tell 10 people.

You never know your limit unless you take yourself there.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

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