Trestle Table – Episode 1

Trestle Dining Table 1

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To start this project Paul overviews some of the structural aspects of the trestle table. He then lays out and cuts the tails of the houndstooth dovetail, showing how to keep the houndstooth detail crisp.

15 Comments

  1. mike melendrez on 29 April 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Beautiful table Paul. Simple, elegant and I love the style. I was so excited when I saw this on Facebook. Thank you.

  2. Christopher on 29 April 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Now I see why the stool project came before the trestle table. Lol
    Boy , Paul you sure make everything look so easy. If I stood on a stool and trid to cut a dovetail I would be at the emergency room getting a backsaw removed from my backside. Ha ha just teasing. I have QSWO planks with a large hump 2/3rd the way down I wonder how I could incorporate them into to table top. Maybe chairs will be the next project series. Beautiful table can’t wait for the next episode. Thanks Paul & Co.

  3. Gary on 30 April 2015 at 4:26 am

    Having bumped my knees on many, many dining table legs over the years, I really appreciate the well thought out design of this one! I’m anxious for the next episode!

  4. jimmyb on 30 April 2015 at 4:39 am

    Paul, I found your site three months ago, new to “hand” woodworking. Since then I have built my (your design) workbench, poor mans router, shooting board, dovetail template and today I made my rebate plane. You truly make all this look so simple, but I have found that it is not as easy as I thought it would be, but neither was it as hard as I imagined it would be, if that makes sense. I have built the first two of the dovetail box series and will start on the third one next week. Your ability to simply and understandably transfer “your knowledge to my skills” is amazing. I just want to thank you for all you are doing for myself and others, my confidence soars with each completed project. I think that I will use the hounds tooth in my next dovetail box just for practice for this table, when I get there. Thanks again and God bless!

  5. Jim Mount on 2 May 2015 at 3:34 pm

    As a “mature gentleman” with a history of vertigo, I will not be getting up on a stool to cut dovetails. I’m sure there are many younger watchers, who are certified (or certifiable) invincible, who will not only cut tails and pins, but do a hornpipe on their stool. With your emphasis on safety, Paul, I am surprised to see this major malfunction, especially as there are other ways. The legal ramifications are mind-boggling; you are telling potential millions to stand on a stool and perform a difficult task. Your attorneys must be pulling out their hair and gnashing their teeth. The litigation trolls are salivating. “Ow! My back! I fell off watching Paul. He told me to do it…”
    I don’t give advice for obvious reasons, but were this my school, I would edit that piece out immediately and replace it with another technique, but of course it is your retirement plan and you must do what you think best. I say this as someone who is profoundly grateful to you for not only helping me personally enter the marvelous world of hand tool woodworking, but also for your valuable insights into our modern world and its affect on our lives. This is not a criticism, but rather my insight based on my professional experience of how the modern world is likely to further affect your life and those around you.
    Finally, legalities aside, I believe that you would be quite distressed, were you to learn of even one serious injury attributable to your instruction. You wear your heart on your sleeve, Paul.

    Jim

    • jmahoney on 2 May 2015 at 6:55 pm

      I wonder how many times I’ve heard Paul say something along the lines of, “Your personal safety is your concern, not mine.”

    • str8tedge on 3 May 2015 at 4:52 am

      Jim, Your good intentions and comments appreciated, but Paul did say you could cut the tails from a horizontal position at the bench if you preferred. Sorry about the vertigo problem you contend with but most folks do get up on a ladder to change a light bulb or fixture when required or any other such type of task. They do so at their own discretion of course.

      Two steps up on a footstool for the average person to accomplish a minor job should not be accompanied with fear of injury. If so find another method. Talk of legalities is well over the top. Ladders and footstools serve their intended purposes when properly utilized like any and all other tools of the trades. Paying attention to personal safety is ‘Always’ every individual’s responsibility. That’s a given.

      • Jim Mount on 5 May 2015 at 1:04 am

        maybe I did let a little paranoia creep in. It’s something I’d be happy to be wrong about.

    • Joseph Sellers on 13 May 2015 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your comment and for voicing your concerns.

      We certainly don’t recommend that people do anything at all that they are uncomfortable with. Paul tries to show a broad range of techniques but it is not possible for him to recommend a particular technique for each individual’s circumstances.

      We hope that everyone watching and reading will take due care and attention and will realise that personal safety in the shop is something that we all need to be constantly aware of especially if we have specific physical limitations.

      Best,

      Joseph

    • Paul Sellers on 14 May 2015 at 8:53 pm

      I do understand what you are saying and my hope as always is that people will really think through the safety issues as to their particular application of everything we suggest. My step up is purpose built with two steps and wide platform and not a skinny surface at all.

    • Andrew Konopitski on 3 June 2017 at 1:19 am

      It’s this type of litigenous thought process which is frustrating when it comes to modern American culture (the “hot McDonald’s coffee” phenomenon​). Put simply, I think people who are reasonable enough to wield saw and chisel can decide whether it’s appropriately safe to stand on a step-stool and cut a dovetail. This isn’t Paul’s responsibility, and to assume so only serves to substantiate a degenerative rational. I’m not intending to be combative, but I think the point is worth making.

  6. ekohlwey on 10 May 2015 at 1:32 pm

    When cutting dovetails in oak, I often have a problem where the corner of a tail will break, leaving a slightly jagged edge. This can be unsightly if it happens on a face that cannot be turned to hide the defect. I noticed at the end of the video that the middle tail has suffered the same sort of defect. It is very difficult to patch using normal methods (ca glue & a small offcut, etc.).

    What do you do in these situations?

    • Paul Sellers on 14 May 2015 at 8:56 pm

      Often you can tell if the oak is absorbing or brittle. If its brittle you can make a thinned solution of PVA glue cut 50/50 and paint the ends. The capillaries will wick up the solution and bond the wood. i have also coated the ends with CA glue and that works too as long as you leave it for an hour to cure.

  7. Joab Oberlander on 13 May 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Paul,
    Great project. Can you explain why you chose to put an apron on the table? Was it aesthetics or structure? There are so many trestle tables that are just a top on stretchers attached to the legs.
    Thanks
    Joab

    • Paul Sellers on 14 May 2015 at 8:58 pm

      I designed it for use with turn buttons. I liked the overall undergirding it gives to fully support the surrounding edge or perimeter of the table and also the over look of solidity.

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