A Personal Angle on the Trestle Table
Scale models and prototypes offer views not possible on paper
Synopsis: Eben Blaney set out to give the traditional trestle table a new twist. First he tilted the trestles outward to create angles and openings. Then he lowered the stretcher to the floor, opening an expanse under the table that pleased his eye. With these two major design decisions done, the rest of the design started to fall into place. See how this table evolved from prototype to finished product.
Eight years ago, after having built pieces to suit other people’s preferences for many years, I set out to find my own furniture style, my own design voice.
I’d been frustrated at times when I was asked to build pieces that I thought were overly embellished, so I challenged myself to simplify. For me this didn’t necessarily mean complete austerity, but a directness of design in which the visual details of a piece arise from structural and functional requirements rather than being added as pure adornment. This dining table with tilted trestles was one of the first major pieces I built in my quest.
Just before beginning the trestle table, I had made my “wedge” hall table, a piece that exemplified the direction I wanted to go with my work. The design of the hall table, with its radically angled plank leg, was prompted by my experience working on timber-frame structures: In those buildings, filled with vertical and horizontal lines, the angled bracing had an exciting visual power, a kind of arrested energy. I hoped that the hall table could provide a similar jolt when placed in a typical rectilinear room.
When it came time to design the dining table, I began thinking about trestle tables. I had built a few in the traditional Shaker manner—legs connected by a knee-high stretcher and secured with tusk tenons—and admired…