Today is for all the woodworking math nerds. You know who you are. In 9th grade you cried when you found out Geometry and Shop Class were scheduled at the same time and you had to choose one or the other. You chose Geometry. Stashed somewhere in the back of your closet or in your underwear drawer is the dovetailed box you made to hold your first slide rule, your Texas Instrument SR-50 and your Casio C-80.
Let’s look at some pies from the woodworking world.
A nice example of a pie-crust tripod table. It is from the Georgian period and dated 1780-1789. The wood is mahogany. The foliate carving above the “knees” does not overwhelm the legs. The feet are hand-carved claw and ball, although the ball looks more like an egg.
The table top is one piece of wood with a hand-carved pie-crust edge that has aged very well. This particular design is considered a classic. If you encounter one of these tables in an antique shop or elsewhere in the wild check to see if the pie-crust is applied molding.
Many of these small tripod tables have a sliding flip top to make these tables easier to store. You can see in Roubo’s example (on the right), that the bird cage sits between two rails. There is also a stop that limits how far the top can slide between the rails.
This Regency-period pie-crust table is dated circa 1820 and is made of mahogany. The top is smaller than the Georgian example, does not flip and it has a tripartite shelf.
The pie crust is much plainer than the Georgian table, but is very much in harmony with the table’s overall shape and design.
The description of the table indicates these are saber legs with hoofed feet that sit on brass casters. I disagree with the description of these feet as being hoofed. That is an even-toed ungulate if there ever was. However, ungulate might be off-putting to a prospective buyer.
This is described as a pie-crust table. Pies are not square, this is clearly a tart. It does have a nice book-matched top which brings us to the next pie piece.
Warren Snow has a good description of the pie-matched table: ”Sequential wood cuts, from the same board, are then paired and arranged to create the table top surface.” For this table the pie ”slices” are made of American cherry and the edge is Macassar ebony. Pie-matching can reveal stunning grain patterns. On many examples, and as can be seen in this table, the center portion has an inlay that adds interest to the table top.
This is a Jupe’s Patent Extending Dining Table with two sets of pie-shaped leaves. Robert Jupe patented the design in 1835 and it is made of mahogany. It is the Big Daddy of pie tables. The table diameter is 65 inches, with the intermediate leaves the diameter is 83.5 inches, with the large set of leaves the diameter is 95.5 inches. As it is Pi Day you can figure out the circumferences.
The table top is turned to open it up into a Sarlacc-like maul and the leaves inserted (May 4th might be a better day for this table).
According to the Bonham’s description these Jupe tables have sold for £120,000-£130,000, but those with more ornate bases have sold for much more.
Lastly, a good old American classic that probably originated in Europe. It the only piece of furniture that was routinely in the company of pies: the pie safe.
Pie safes (garde-manger in parts of Louisiana) kept pies and other foodstuffs safe from insects and vermin. This one is made of pine and is a very typical design with two doors and three shelves inside. The doors and sides have metal ventilation panels that have a pierced or punched designs. Fine metal screening or cloth might be used instead of metal panels.
I was planning a Pi Day post two years ago which happened to fall within a few days of the official announcement that we were in a pandemic. I had to make a quick trip out of town before hunkering down and consequently forgot about it. Last year I was deep into a research project. So, today have some pie and wear your old calculator watch, because tomorrow…tomorrow is March 15, the Ides of March and you should hide under your bed.