Scandinavian Kitchen Table
Pure lines meet powerful joinery in a handsome everyday table.
Synopsis: These simple and unpretentious kitchen table plans are for a table that is designed to be used, and the unusual construction makes it robust enough for the most avid home cook. Dispensing with typical leg-to-apron joinery, the table has shouldered bridle joints that lock the legs to a pair of long aprons. Three dovetailed cross rails link the aprons, and together with an H-stretcher system, make the table clean-looking and solid as a rock.
The Smithsonian Institution calls Julia Child’s kitchen “the workspace of a master craftsman,” and I have to agree. I’m a huge fan of Julia Child. She was friendly, curious, enthusiastic, down-to-earth, and crazy about food. Her simple, encouraging approach to cooking changed the way America prepared its meals. When I visited her famous home kitchen—it’s now an exhibit at the Smithsonian, intact down to the last saucepan and ladle—I was fascinated by her kitchen table. It’s a Scandinavian farm table, one she bought in Norway in 1960, and she and her husband Paul ate most of their meals at it. Like Child, the table is both robust and unpretentious. I decided to make one like it for myself.
After quite a bit of wheedling, I got overall dimensions from the Smithsonian, and online I found a photo of the table without a tablecloth, which had obscured some of its structure. Equipped with those and my experience repairing and reproducing many similar Scandinavian tables over the years, I worked out the details of part sizes, structure, and joinery. The table’s construction is unusual—and excellent. Dispensing with typical leg-to-apron joinery, the table has shouldered bridle joints that lock its legs to a pair of long aprons. This arrangement eliminates racking along the table’s length. Three dovetailed cross rails link the aprons, and along with the H-stretcher system, they make the table rock-solid. I built mine of soft maple—hard enough to survive daily use, but with a rosier, more attractive color than hard maple.
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CAD-drawn plans and a cutlist for this project are available in the Fine Woodworking store.