Challenging Features in Thomas Elfe Breakfast Table

comments (1) September 21st, 2009 in blogs

Killenwood Tim Killen, contributor
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In my last entry I showed the making of a rule joint using one of Thomas Elfe's famous breakfast tables. The table has so many more interesting features that I decided to run a series of entries on its construction in SketchUp.
As mentioned before, Thomas Elfe (1719 - 1775) was a famous cabinetmaker in Charleston, SC. Recently I was able to see one of his tables at Middleton Place and decided that it would be fun to re-construct.

Here is the overall assembly in SketchUp. It has a thin 1/2-in. thick table top with a complex molded edge (it is not a simple thumbnail). This is a drop leaf table and I showed the making of the rule joint in the last blog entry. The undulating pierced apron is a special feature of these tables.

The placement of the table hinges are directly over the legs. I've created a typical rule joint hinge which is necessarily having one side longer than the other.  I made the hinge in SketchUp with each side as a separate nested component. That way I can rotate the hinge around the center post.

I've placed the hinge such that its center pin is at the center of the arcs which make the rule joint. However, it may be shifted about 1/32-in. to allow more free movement and a gap as the table leaf is let down.

A wooden hinge is used to provide the leaf support.

And the Stretching Rail is quite elaborate as shown in this bottom orthographic view of the assembled table.

So in the next few entries I plan to show the method of SketchUp construction for the following table details:

1. How to "carve" the pierced apron
2. The construction of the legs which have several interesting features
3. My method of making the wooden table support hinge
4. The layout of the elaborately shaped stretching rail at the bottom of the table
5. I will show joinery which is quite straightforward mortise and tenon


posted in: blogs, table, chippendale

Comments (1)

Stoke Retired Stoke Retired writes: I had a brain stem stroke in 2005 and given a 10% chance of living. I haven't let it stop me from doing wood work. God really has been good to me. Having been forced into retirement, wood working has really helped my attitude.
Posted: 10:48 pm on October 1st

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