Federal Demilune Card Table
A folding top, gate legs, and a curved apron distinguish this piece
Synopsis: It takes both traditional and modern techniques to build Steve Latta’s demilune card table, a design that dates to the early years of American independence. This mahogany piece has a folding top, gate legs, and a curved, veneered apron constructed of brick laid poplar. The back legs swing on knuckle joints, and the front and rear legs are tapered. The table, based on Baltimore pieces, is stylish enough to remain unadorned, but can also be embellished with inlay.
Demilune card tables are a favorite project of mine because building them involves tools and techniques both traditional and modern. Their ancestry dates to the early years of American independence when they were popular all along the Eastern Seaboard. True to the neoclassic passion for symmetry, they often were made in pairs and positioned to balance a doorway, alcove, or dominant piece of furniture.
During an age of newfound wealth and status, the nouveau riche used the level of ornamentation on their card tables as one way to flaunt their wealth. Price books and recovered invoices of the time set individual costs for stringing, bellflowers, ornamental ovals, and the like. With the intricacy of the inlay reflecting the status of the owner, the level of embellishment on period tables varies enormously. This table, based on Baltimore pieces, is stylish enough to remain unadorned, but the Master Class on p. 102 will guide you through adding stringing and banding appropriate to your tastes and skills.
The curved apron is bricklaid poplar
After you have made a full-scale drawing (see pullout), begin by building the core of the table’s semicircular apron. This requires a full-size pattern made from 3⁄4-in.-thick medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Cut the semicircle with a router mounted on a radius jig, taking the radius from your drawing. Remember to deduct the…
Get the Full-Size Plan
CAD-drawn plans and a cutlist for this project are available in the Fine Woodworking store.