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Doomwolf

Medieval table leg design - update with completed project photo

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For those of you who aren't aware (which is probably everyone, because I spend most of my time lurking), I find historical and reproduction work to be one of the most interesting aspects if woodworking. Eventually I want to replace my IKEA dinning table, and I`m hoping to do something in a historical style.

Below is a portion of picture I saw in a book I was  reading, and my eye was immediately drawn to the table at the bottom left. It's a trestle-style table, but each trestle is stylized 'x'; in fact, it's more like two 'c's placed back to back. Any idea how a person would make this? I was able to find a couple of images in Google that would suggest that the 'x' is formed from four separate pieces joined together, but once you joined the four sections together you'd then have to cut a mortise through the joints to insert the central stretcher. Has anyone seen how this is supposed to be done, or otherwise have suggestions? 

religion-protestant-reformation-selling-

Also, if anyone is interested in the image source, it is The Selling of Indulgences  by Hans Holbein the Younger (c.1522), which is technically the early modern rather than medieval period if anyone wants to split historical hairs. 

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Old timers had prime timber selection. I see this as a clam shell in reverse. One horseshoe up and one down. They may have used log sections to get grain that swept the curve. You might have to bend ply cut boards to mimic. The tenon does not need to be thick as it just keeps what were likely massive legs from racking. The tighter it fits the better as flattening of the arcs will be controlled better if they cannot move without crushing the tenon.  I would guess there is a touch of scale variance in the drawing. 

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It may just be how the artist tried to capture the look of the piece.  Someone with more experience will chime in I am sure, but couldn't the piece be recreated by half lapping two boards  in an "x" form, but using wide boards (or a glue up) cut with the curves.  Each side of the leg would be sort of "s"shaped.  Once the modified x is glued up, a mortise for the trestle could be cut.

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If the angle of the curve is artistic license then that`s annoying, because I like the look. Cèst le vie. I thought about cutting out the shape from a wider board, but then wouldn't you be introducing grain runout into your piece?

Also, I was doing some more online research and found a page with a whole bunch of links to medieval tables for those interested:

http://www.larsdatter.com/tables.htm

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Norm did a NYWS show where he created a garden gate with a semi-circular top.  He took several short pieces and mitered them together to make 180 degrees, then cut out the inside and outside to make the semi-circle.  That way, the grain was never too far away from the circle.  If I remember correctly, he made the thing in two layers, front and back, and over-lapped them so that each miter was like a half-lap joint. This gave a lot of strength and helped with the grain following the curve.

 

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I would definitely do the two C pieces as bent laminations. There seems to be a thick rectangular section between the two c's. I would glue an adder block to the back of both c's. I would then dado both pieces half the depth of the mortise that i wanted.. Id then glue them up and have the exact shape and the mortise would be done. Not sure if this is clear but I think it would work well.

Sent from my SM-N910W8 using Tapatalk

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==>each trestle is stylized 'x'

Taunton's Dining Table design book has at least one of this design -- from memory, I think it's two... Includes measured drawing, construction details, etc.... If you want to buy the book from Amazon, I'll find my copy and verify the design is in there...

You may wish to browse the MET's on-line site for their Northern Euro period collection... This should get you started: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search?ft=furniture&noqs=true

There are about 500K pieces in their collection, so have fun... :)

The MET store also sells books detailing their period rooms (entire rooms setup as they were for the period). If you are ever in NYC, they are worth seeing...

I spent a few minutes browsing and found this, not quite right:

http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/8813?rpp=90&pg=4&ft=furniture&what=Wood|Oak&pos=294

But there were 6000 search results including tables, so I'll let you have the fun.. :)

I seem to remember the key to their design is that they're supposed to be easily broken-down and moved...

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hhh, if you can verify if the design is in there, give me the ISBN number and I can order it through the library. The Ottawa library system has a bunch of agreements so they can request items from other systems if they don't have it.

I highly suspect you're correct about disassembly, the stretcher looks like it's held in with a tusk tenon, which tells me it's likely a knock-down design.

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I've seen lots of "X" forms and this does not look like one to me. The curve looks too semicircular and the artwork shows a horizontal shadow line. A stylized "X" is certainly traditional so I am not disagreeing with the suggestion. I just don't think it matches the form pictured. Such a dramatic sweep of curve would lead to lots of weak short grain spots. 

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==>verify if the design is in there, give me the ISBN number and I can order it through the library.

Danish Farmer's Trestle Table executed by Mario Rodriguez

The upper part of the legset is a U (similar to the plate you reverence) and the lower is a stylized S. Obviously, if you have your heart set on upper and lower Us, it's an easy modification.

I'm glad I checked, the design is in Taunton's Tables book: ISBN 1-56158-342-1 -- not their Dining Tables book...

The legset is attached to battens (more on those later) with removable pegs at the top of the U and the stretcher is tusk tenon. Pull a couple of pins, and it easily breaks-down... Great...

I've got one issue with Mario's execution: the legset pins to a batten underneath the table (which is fine)... The two battens (one for each U) serve two important purposes: keeps the top flat and prevents the legset from racking... Where I take issue: the batten is attached to the top with a sliding dovetail. I'd have to see a period example before embarking on that design choice... A 30" sliding dovetail would be a bitch to assemble. And if you made it loose enough to assemble easily, I'm not sure what purpose it serves... A tapered sliding dovetail would be a better choice (but harder to execute)...

 

==>Such a dramatic sweep of curve would lead to lots of weak short grain spots. 

Agreed. The design executed by Mario lacks the wide sweep... While a great artist, there's no guarantee that HHtY didn't photoshop the table a bit to fit his composition...

Also, there's a height/width thing... Trestle designs only work well if they are fairly narrow... You don't want the legset protruding wider than the top... Assuming a 29" height and 32" width, having a wide-swept U legset might not work... You could model it in Sketchup to see if it works...

Note: It's really better to use physical examples from museum collections rather than artist's representations...

 

==>I think they cut the entire thing out if one ginormous log, with a broad axe!

That very well may be the case... But the design emphases mobility... Generally each legset is executed in two pieces and the stretcher's long tenon pierce the two sections and the tuck locks the entire assembly together...

 

Again, actual period pieces make the best reference... Many museums have their collections on-line... You may browse some Northern Euro museum collections to find an exact fit...

 

 

Good Luck!

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13 hours ago, hhh said:

==>each trestle is stylized 'x'

Taunton's Dining Table design book has at least one of this design -- from memory, I think it's two... Includes measured drawing, construction details, etc.... If you want to buy the book from Amazon, I'll find my copy and verify the design is in there...

You may wish to browse the MET's on-line site for their Northern Euro period collection... This should get you started: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search?ft=furniture&noqs=true

There are about 500K pieces in their collection, so have fun... :)

The MET store also sells books detailing their period rooms (entire rooms setup as they were for the period). If you are ever in NYC, they are worth seeing...

I spent a few minutes browsing and found this, not quite right:

http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/8813?rpp=90&pg=4&ft=furniture&what=Wood|Oak&pos=294

But there were 6000 search results including tables, so I'll let you have the fun.. :)

I seem to remember the key to their design is that they're supposed to be easily broken-down and moved...

Perhaps this site has been listed before, but I am rather new here. Anyways, thanks. I am now addicted to looking at antique furniture. It's your fault. hehehe

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28 minutes ago, ShyDogWill said:

Here's something similar I designed and built for a client last year.  Large wide stock joined with half laps.

 

http://shydogdesigns.blogspot.com/2015/05/a-farm-house-table-and-bench-part-ii.html

Table and Bench.jpg

Table End .jpg

So it looks like wide r oak boards, you cut the curve from those attempting to follow a grain sweep, then half lapped and stretcher attached?

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10+ inch wide 10/4 ash.  Stayed with the grain as best I could, but at that thickness, I didn't find runout a big concern. The stretcher is attached with knockdown Z-bolt hardware from Lee Valley

 

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ShyDog, that's pretty awesome, thank you for the design inspiration. Also, you've got some very nice stuff in your gallery.

Thank you all for the insight and advice, you're what makes this community such a valuable resource. 

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Unfortunately trip don't come here much any more : /

The table looks good can we get the info? How'd ya do it? How's it work?  Some closer pics?

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Woodworking #1, relationships, eh somewhere close to #2! Unless relationship was established prior to woodworking, , then a definately #1! 

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I think you might be able to approach this as a timberframe type joint, 4 pieces made from 4x6 timbers with pegged joints.  Bottom would tenon into the top, and maybe a sort of bridle joint to bring the two side pieces together.  Would be a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, but would be fun.  With 4" wide timbers, you will have plenty of room for thick tenons.

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So, had time (and light) to sit down with the camera and take a couple closeups of how everything is held together. The more observant of you might notice that I did not...obsess over the final surface of the trestle base. My rational is that the only people who will notice are A. me and B. toddlers.    

I do like the chamfers on the center beam - I did some test cuts on a table saw with scrap, and went with what I liked. I did the same 45 degree chamfers on the tenon ends partly to match (and partly to reduce the chance of chipping/splintering, and because it makes putting the tenon through the motise easier). 

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Beautiful table ! Sign it and date it w start & completion dates so future generations can appreciate the time and effort that went into it. Sometimes I include a note about the type of finish used to help with future touch ups. 

Drunks and toddlers might see what you consider flaws but they won't comprehend them as such.

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Tables made in medieval days were made with axes, bow saws, mallets, and chisels. Sand paper and fine woodworking tools didn't exist. They didn't even have paint, stains, or finishes like we do today. Some wax may have been used on it, mabe mixed with some axle grease or pine tar to darken and preserve it, etc.  

 I think that if they could see your table, it would be amazing, almost science fiction to them to see such smooth cut wood and tight fitting joints. No, it isn't perfect, but very few commercially made pieces of furniture, even today, are  ever perfect. Sign and date it somewhere on the under side, and then enjoy it. Your children will likely enjoy it with their children too, and they will marvel at what a great job that you did when  you made it. As a woodworker myself I can see a few small places that aren't perfect, but you did a pretty fine job on it and most will not see what I can see. I'm 75  and have been building wood furniture for over 60 years. Everything that I have ever made has things that didn't quite turn out perfect and almost every piece has a blood stain on it somewhere, but fortunately the blood stains are usually very small and hidden, frequently caused by a splinter. I call them my DNA signature . 

Charley

 

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