In many pieces of staked furniture, you’ll find extra bits of wood lurking beneath the top that thicken up the joinery area, adding strength to the entire table. I call these – for lack of a better word – “nubs.” Sometimes they are rounded; sometimes rectangular.
In many Moravian and Swedish examples, these nubs are clearly battens that ride in a sliding dovetail – a very fancy and permanent joint.
But in many images from the Middle Ages, the nubs look too round to be sliding dovetails. My first thought was that the nubs were just sections of a tree branch split down the middle. But that seemed crazy to suggest without evidence.
So I was happy when I received the following image from Richard O. Byrne of a table for sale at an auction site – see the whole listing here.
The nubs are clearly sections of a branch or juvenile tree.
Also good news: A photo of the top shows that the nubs are attached with nails. You can’t get any simpler than that (I think).
— Christopher Schwarz