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Lucasd2002

kitchen table (trestle)

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I am planning a trestle kitchen table.  Our current table is an heirloom pedestal mahogany table that is approximately 100 years old and we are afraid it is not capable of handling two growing children.  So, it will move to the dining room.  This is a commission from the wife.

Initial planned dimensions (based on the space available and traditional ratios) are 82"x51"x29".  Marc's 2017 trestle table provided some inspiration.  Some of the features that I want to incorporate are breadboard ends and through tenons with tusk tenons in the stretcher(s).  I am leaning toward bridle joints at the top/bottom of the legs for attaching to the feet and table-top supports.

My research into the trestle style found the document below, which says that anything over 36" wide will want two vertical legs at each end (each having a stretcher).  The full quote is "The single post at each end, including the sculpted board, have structural problems when the tabletop is wider than about 36”. Then two posts and two stretchers are used."

http://www.stephanwoodworking.com/DiningTableDesignConsiderations1-16-14.pdf

I also found some text from an old magazine article (Fine Woodworking #42) that says:

"Practical dimensions—A trestle table at standard dining height (29 in) looks and works best when 6 ft. long or longer. At any length, the amount of top between the endframes compared with the amount outside them is important. Putting about five ninths between the supports and two ninths out at each end balances the top against sagging, whatever its thickness."

Based on these sources, my tentative plan is:

-base length of about 45" with an 18.5" overhang at each end (overall top length of 82");

-2 vertical legs at each end attached to a common foot at top/bottom and a stretcher attached approximately 1/3 from the top of each leg.

 

Materials: My tentative plan is to use red oak that I already have on hand for the base (8/4 for the stretchers and multiple layers of 4/4 to 'construct' the bridle joints).  To please the wife, the plan is to stain the oak grey or bleach it.  For the top, the plan is to acquire cherry, walnut, African mahogany, or ? in either 6/4 or 8/4.  I am leaning toward 8/4 based on the planned size of the top.  I want walnut but don't want to pay for walnut.  Maybe cherry.

 

Any input or critique is very appreciated.  Do I definitely need 2 stretchers for a 51" wide trestle table?

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My preference on height is 30". 30" is the middle of acceptable height. I did build a 29" table for a petite lady. It worked and would be OK for an average size person. But if you have some tall guests it might be a little tight.

Calculate the difference in total dollars not per foot of using walnut. Likely that table will be in use for decades. Cherry is not cheap so the difference might not be much. I'm glad to pay up to avoid second thoughts and regrets. And walnut is so nice to work with. Cherry is beautiful but is not especially friendly to work with. But if you can win the fight that cherry sometimes offers, it is nice to look at.

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I would rethink the 51" dimension of the table.  That is pretty wide.  I prefer something closer to 44 to 46". 

The "stretcher between the legs" that you mention concerns me but I am probably misunderstanding - just be sure that the leg locations and the stretchers don't interefere with peoples legs.  A sketch of your design would get you more helpful suggestions.

Have Fun.

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The concern in my mind is the weight above the mid point of your legs.  The top is extra wide, the stretchers are 2/3 from the floor, and children are a bit like overweight monkey's . I'd hate to see all that weight be turned over on a wild child, the result could be very serious.  If you still plan it the way you've described, please get some serious weight on the floor.

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8 hours ago, curlyoak said:

My preference on height is 30". 30" is the middle of acceptable height. I did build a 29" table for a petite lady. It worked and would be OK for an average size person. But if you have some tall guests it might be a little tight.

Calculate the difference in total dollars not per foot of using walnut. Likely that table will be in use for decades. Cherry is not cheap so the difference might not be much. I'm glad to pay up to avoid second thoughts and regrets. And walnut is so nice to work with. Cherry is beautiful but is not especially friendly to work with. But if you can win the fight that cherry sometimes offers, it is nice to look at.

We're actually a family of midgets (kidding, of course).  I am 5'-8" (and so is my wife).  We have two daughters, so it is unlikely that any regulars will be taller than 5'-8".  I will look into it and would have no problem raising it.  Another thought I had was the lack of an apron should reduce issues with a low table top.

I haven't been to a local hardwood dealer to price these materials yet (can only really make it on Saturday morning).  The last prices I have seen online had walnut almost double the price of cherry. 

 

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2 hours ago, Ronn W said:

I would rethink the 51" dimension of the table.  That is pretty wide.  I prefer something closer to 44 to 46". 

The "stretcher between the legs" that you mention concerns me but I am probably misunderstanding - just be sure that the leg locations and the stretchers don't interefere with peoples legs.  A sketch of your design would get you more helpful suggestions.

Have Fun.

The 51" width is actually narrower than the pedestal table it would replace, but yes, I understand this is pretty wide for a trestle table.

The image below shows what I mean about the single stretcher vs double stretcher.  My understanding is that the second image (on the right), which adds a second stretcher along the length of the table, is appropriate for wider tables.  The image below shows the stretchers approximately half way up the legs.  My earlier comment about the 1/3 from the top was from Marc's 2017 trestle table design.

 

Slide1.JPG

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Yeah, I like the double stretcher.  Not that the table shown is underdesgined (since I don't know the thicknesses of the legs but it's my gut feelling that for a long table such as yours the weakest point in the design is the thicknesses of the trestles.  I am concerend about that table swaying when bumped in the long direction.  I would consider using a good 1 1/4" thickness.  I think that 3/4" would look too skinny for the size of the table.  Also, I would not make the top less that 1 1/4" thick.

Just for comparison, here is a pick of a table in progress.  This table top will be 96" long and 44" wide.  The trestles are 3" thick with 5" wide base and top on each trestle. I have one 1" thick middle stretcher and three 1" thick top stretchers.  The only reason for so many top stretchers is extra support of the center "bread board piece" in the top as shown in the second pic.  That said, the use of top stretchers (which are basically never seen) adds a lot of stability.   In the end you just make it look right for you.

 

Good luck.

P1010034.thumb.JPG.f945a72ed6ae734fd5903c51e3876014.JPG

5a714e98e59a8_FinalDesign.thumb.JPG.9e85eac0c3cab0f717633b9843c1976f.JPG

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I am currently building a trestle table, 46" wide. It uses a single stretcher, but the stretcher attaches to a plate between two 'legs' at either end, as Ronn's does.

I'll second the concern about the width. Do a little research on ergonomics, you'll find that rectangular dining tables are very rarely over 48" in width, because beyond that, passing the salt starts to move into airborne territory.

I bet your pedestal table is round.

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8 hours ago, Ronn W said:

Yeah, I like the double stretcher.  Not that the table shown is underdesgined (since I don't know the thicknesses of the legs but it's my gut feelling that for a long table such as yours the weakest point in the design is the thicknesses of the trestles.  I am concerend about that table swaying when bumped in the long direction.  I would consider using a good 1 1/4" thickness.  I think that 3/4" would look too skinny for the size of the table.  Also, I would not make the top less that 1 1/4" thick.

Just for comparison, here is a pick of a table in progress.  This table top will be 96" long and 44" wide.  The trestles are 3" thick with 5" wide base and top on each trestle. I have one 1" thick middle stretcher and three 1" thick top stretchers.  The only reason for so many top stretchers is extra support of the center "bread board piece" in the top as shown in the second pic.  That said, the use of top stretchers (which are basically never seen) adds a lot of stability.   In the end you just make it look right for you.

 

Good luck.

P1010034.thumb.JPG.f945a72ed6ae734fd5903c51e3876014.JPG

5a714e98e59a8_FinalDesign.thumb.JPG.9e85eac0c3cab0f717633b9843c1976f.JPG

Thanks - this is very helpful.  My original thought was to construct the trestles from 3 layers of 4/4 red oak, which would be layered in the longitudinal direction of the table (same orientation as Denette's legs here but less fancy).  My pile of 4/4 red oak seems to take quite a bit to mill down so the overall thickness may be not much more than 2".  I am starting to question whether that is sufficient.

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With 2 legs in each pedestal, I would think that 2" thickness would be OK.  The addition of one or 2 top stretchers is still a good idea.  You area on the right track.

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Old school drawings ! Me like !  I wouldn't build the top more than 42-44 inches wide. 

 

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Make your top stretcher the same depth or nearly the same depth as the tops of the trestle that it frames into.  Stronger.  Oh, wait.  is this to be a knock down table. If so you need to have thru tenons for the top stretcher, too.

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11 hours ago, Ronn W said:

Make your top stretcher the same depth or nearly the same depth as the tops of the trestle that it frames into.  Stronger.  Oh, wait.  is this to be a knock down table. If so you need to have thru tenons for the top stretcher, too.

 

I was thinking about attaching the upper stretchers using half-lap joints to the top of the trestles with a recessed (counter-bored) fastener extending through the half-lapped portion of the stretcher down into the trestle.  That way, the stretchers would be removable, but the hardware would be hidden by the table top.  If I was fancy, maybe I would do a half-lap dovetail, but this part would not be visible (and I'm not that fancy).

 

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I've made some progress on the base.  All of the parts for the two trestle assemblies are made from 3 layers of 4/4 red oak.  I tried to be smart and mill all of the center layer components to be the same thickness.  Lots of milling - I had a pile of parts cut to rough size.

IMG_3438.thumb.jpg.21a55bbc787a6687f8a99c8db1049a73.jpg

Then, started clamping subassemblies together.  The tops and bottoms of the trestle are the same at this point.

 IMG_3439.thumb.jpg.64604bc06f9876282709b3c576c9b05e.jpg

Here was one of the first dry-fits, before the vertical parts had the outside layers glued on.

IMG_3440.thumb.jpg.2d057a1434456d3f50cdd3fa120bbed3.jpg

Then, I did some shaping to the tops and bottoms.  I also drilled some counterbored, slotted holes through the upper pieces to attach to the table top and removed material from the center portion of the bottom parts to make feet.  Here are dry fits of the 2 trestle assemblies after that process.

IMG_3441.thumb.jpg.0e0bb0f1819b491ea90e64498cb87e91.jpgIMG_3442.thumb.jpg.34666afe235f43f705dc712704875943.jpg

Next, milled the 8/4 red oak for the 2 stretchers that will pass through the vertical pieces.  This was laying them out for length.

IMG_3443.thumb.jpg.e0a5214872e131ebcfdb6c13d8b127c7.jpg

 

I have laid out the mortises in the vertical parts for the 2 stretchers.  Cutting those mortises is my next task.

 

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Trying to finish up the base.  This is the current state.  I added curves to the vertical parts of the trestle members and the lower stretchers.  The vertical parts have through mortises for the lower stretchers.  The biggest lesson learned from cutting those curves was that I overestimated my ability to operate a jig saw with thick material.  I already knew that I should have a bandsaw for cuts like those, and this experience did nothing but reinforce that.  Unfortunately, I do not have the space for a bandsaw at this time.

IMG_3484.thumb.jpg.aa0ba826224e267826df68d16c584e59.jpg

IMG_3485.thumb.jpg.eb187f3a9a9201f55c4ecfee1558f1d8.jpg

The most recent change was to add the upper stretchers with lap joints.  These parts are the first that are not red oak to this point (southern yellow pine).  The idea is that these would be hidden by the top.  I am embedding t-nuts in the top of the trestles for 1/4-20 fasteners that pass through the upper stretchers.

IMG_3491.thumb.jpg.58030ed08f3e7b97b276b00b96445b34.jpg

IMG_3488.thumb.jpg.1b61828e37ec98dce516ade5d63491e5.jpg

The only task left for the base (other than sanding and finishing) is to create the vertical mortises in the lower stretchers and the wedges that will pass through these mortises and press against the outer surfaces of the vertical parts of the trestle members.  The plan is to use cutoffs from the cherry for the top to make the wedges.  I am a little nervous about cutting the mortises because (1) I don't want to mess up the lower stretchers and (2) I have never cut angled mortises.  I guess only one of the four faces of those mortises needs to be angled, but still...

After the mortises/wedges, I will start milling the 8/4 cherry for the top.

IMG_3385.thumb.jpg.3e8c9ba7106301848322f0b12ad8b713.jpg

 

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Nice looking trestle !

So if someone try's to pick up the table by the edge of the top the Tee nut will pull right out. I would put it in the bottom edge of the trestle crosspiece. I've made mistakes like this and learned the hard way. Just trying to help. I use a tiny bit of epoxy under Tee nuts, but make sure it doesn't get into the threads. If it does it's possible to clean out the dried glue with a tap. Or skip the glue....

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I've just tapped threads with a thread tap strait into the wood. same way you would metal. If you using hardwood which it looks like oak a connection like this is a LOT stronger than you need and stronger than most would give it credit. Steve is right about T-nuts just pulling strait out having them positioned the way you do.

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Thanks guys.  The pine parts shown here are not intended to be attached to the top.  They are supposed to help set the distance between the two trestle assemblies and provide a (flat-ish) surface along with the upper parts of the trestles for the top to rest on.  In theory, these 4 t-nuts should take very little vertical load.

I did actually use CA glue when I embedded those 4 t-nuts (and I drilled small pilot holes for the barbs extending from the t-nuts).  At this point, I'm happy to not have CA glue holding a thumb and index finger attached to one another.  That didn't actually happen, but I'm always paranoid that it will.

My plan is for the only attachments between the base and top to be between the oak trestle parts and the cherry top.  However, my plan would create a similar problem that Steve described.  My plan was to embed the same t-nuts in the underside of the cherry top to align with the center of the slotted holes in the trestle (shown in the 3rd and 4th pictures in my post on Friday).  I counter-bored these slotted holes before I cut the angled side parts off the upper parts of the trestles.  I was tentatively planning to add a third counter-bored (non-slotted) hole at the center of each of the trestle, which would provide 6 total fasteners connecting the base and top.

One of my original ideas was to use s-clips (like these) to attach the top, but I was worried about having to move the clips each time the top and taken off and put back on (i.e., the wood screws creating swiss cheese on the bottom surface of the top).

Realistically, I'm not sure how often the table would be disassembled.  When I was planning things out the metal t-nuts sounded like a more elegant solution for attaching and reattaching the top to the base.

I haven't even started milling the cherry for the top so I have plenty of time to rethink the attachment between the top and base.

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The last new parts are fitted.  I made 4 wedges from cherry offcuts from the top (2 at each end of the trestle assembly).  The 8/4 stretchers have "angled" mortises where they pass through the trestle assemblies.  I spent a few hours Saturday and Sunday planing the top to try to remove a high spot in the center board.

The base is finished, but I plan to cut the stretchers now that the mortises and wedges are defined (I left them intentionally long because I wasn't sure what how the mortises would turn out).

 

wedges2.thumb.jpg.74b88b812511cd4e214ed9a95092e3c4.jpg

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