A Fresh Take on the Trestle Table
A live edge and nontraditional joinery revamp a traditional form
Synopsis: A simple, elegant base complements the natural beauty of the live-edge top on this trestle table. The base joinery is half laps and bridle joints, with easy angles, slight tapers, and optional pegs to add interest. A spacer between the posts creates an interesting detail without sacrificing strength. The two pieces that make up the top are joined with a spline.
As the design and production partner at New York Heartwoods, I set out to create furniture that looked elegant and handcrafted yet for business purposes had to be quick to build and simple to repeat. This trestle-style table is the perfect example. The top is a gorgeous slab of 6/4 book-matched eastern black walnut. I didn’t want to distract from the beauty of that wood, so I designed a restrained, rectilinear base that complements the natural beauty of the top. The base joinery consists of half laps and bridle joints, with slight angles and tapers, and optional pegs to add interest.
Although the top is the focal point of the piece, construction starts with the base. To begin, lay out the joinery for the feet and the top cross rails. These pieces are the same length, which simplifies layout and reduces setup time. The cross rails and the feet each have two bridle joints separated by a 1⁄4-in. strip in the middle. This creates an interesting visual break between the posts without sacrificing strength and rigidity. I cut the dadoes in the top cross rails and feet at the same time using a tablesaw and a series of stops. First cut the dadoes on both sides of the cross rails and around the feet. Next, raise the dado blade and cut the deeper dadoes on the top of the feet and the bottom of the cross rails. These deeper dadoes lock in the bridle joint and create more purchase. The spacer strips on the cross rails and feet are vulnerable short-grain pieces, and are not strictly necessary. Personally, I leave the strips, but I make certain to use caution during dry-fits and glueups to avoid snapping them off.
To finish the bridle joints, the two-piece posts need to be notched on the top and bottom to accept the top cross rail and foot. I cut the notch with the post upright on the tablesaw in a jig that slides on the tablesaw fence. I cut the two cheeks, cut out the waste on the bandsaw, and then finish up the flat between the cheeks at the bench. I undercut the middle slightly to ensure a tight fit.
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