About two years ago, my wife was planning a family get together at our home. She asked me if I had anything to use as a table for extra seating. I mentioned we could get two sawhorses, a sheet of plywood and throw a table cloth on it. I am from rural North Carolina so this is a more than adequate type of table. Of course if you have any faith in Mr. Schwarz’s research, it has been an acceptable form of table for may other folks as well for centuries.
My wife would have none of it; a couple days later she came in with a blow-molded plastic table with metal legs from one of the big box stores. It was an abomination. The folding legs worked OK, it was not terribly heavy, but it was just wrong. It looked like very-near future landfill material. It made it through the family gathering but did get me to thinking about something that would serve the same purpose but made of wood.
After after some thought, I came up with a trestle table that is assembled with wedges. The base is held together with four wedged tusk tenons and the top is attached to the base with four tapered dowels that work like removable drawbores. It can be assembled or broken down in a minute or so, with no tools other than a mallet or hammer and can be stored in a closet.
The base is made of yellow pine construction lumber with oak feet. The top is of white pine with breadboard ends. It’s strong, stable, not too heavy and can be set up quickly when needed. Or, it can be left assembled and used daily as this one is.
I filmed a video on making this table, “Building the Collapsible Trestle Table” that is available at Wood and Shop’s store (here) as a digital download or DVD, preview (here). The video was filmed and edited by Joshua Farnsworth (considering the substandard talent he had to work with on these projects, he works miracles with video) who I also filmed two previous projects, “Building the Portable Moravian Workbench” and “Building the Shaker Candle Stand”.
A few weeks ago I ran across an old tool chest at an antique store and it managed to follow me home. It is not particularly unique in its construction; I was mostly taken by the old red paint job on the inside.
When I got home with my find, I took the tills out and had a close look at the inside to see what kind of tool marks there were. Also, looking for the almost-always nonexistent signature or possible date. It is not signed anywhere other than red paint fingerprints on the undersides of the tills.
One thing I did notice when I was looking it over in the store is that the lid had an extra hinge on the outside of the chest. I assumed it was a repair, that maybe the center hinge on the inside had pulled loose at some point and it would have been easier to add another hinge on the outside.
On closer inspection the outside hinge was the same size and type as the inside three. It looked to be original. The outside hinge also has two carefully made spacers so the barrel of the outside hinge and the inside hinges align. After thinking about it and wondering why the maker did not just space the four hinges on the inside I happened to open the lid up while standing behind the chest. Ah ha! The outside hinge is the stop for the lid.
Most box hinges the leaves of the hinge will close completely on one another in one direction and won’t in the other direction. When I realized how it worked I felt like a total dumb-ass (a regular occurrence) for not figuring it out sooner.
This past weekend I had the good fortune to accompany Roy Underhill and Peter Ross on a visit to a chair exhibit at the North Carolina History Center in New Bern, N.C. It is a collection of 75 turned “common” chairs from northeastern North Carolina. The guest curators, Mark Wenger and Hiram Perkinson, did a wonderful job of gathering and documenting the chairs for the exhibit.
The exhibit runs thru Sept. 17, and is free to the public. Tryon Palace is a couple blocks away from the history center and well worth checking out, too.
Big slabs of wood move as they dry – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. In my experience, the worst of the movement happens in the first six to 12 months of drying. The hardest two problems to deal with that emerge from the drying process are: a crown over the length of the slab, and the more common twist or wind over the length.
This movement (particularly a bad twist) can mean removing a tremendous amount of wood to get a flat surface. A jack plane with a cambered iron can do wonders, but if there is a lot of wood that has to come of it, can be quite a job. Another factor can be the wood itself. Most of the benchtops I deal with are red or white oak; once dry, it is hard to take much of a bite with a handplane.
The past couple of years I have been using a hand held electric plane for hogging off the majority of the offending wood. It works quite well across or with the grain. When using it cross-grain it will take close to 1/8″ off each pass. Once I am close to where I need to be, I can easily finish up with handplanes.
These little electric planes vary in price, I think I paid $120 for the one I have. This one has seen some pretty heavy use and has held up well so far.
In the video Chris and I shot, “Roubo Workbench: by Hand & Power,” we used one of these electric planes to flatten one face of the benchtop. We did the opposite face of the top with a 20″ surface planer. After all was said and done, wrestling the 300 lb. benchtop through the surface planer was much more exhausting than going the electric plane/handplane route.
Several years ago I picked up this little tool at an antique store. It works great for tracing shapes accurately. I had quite a few questions today about it, and I don’t know what it is called or if it can still be purchased. If anyone can identify this thing or where one could be bought please comment.