Drop Leaf Table

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Blog series by Tom updated 01-17-2020 05:51 PM 11 parts 8231 reads 26 comments total

Part 1: An Old Drop Leaf Table

11-20-2019 07:04 PM by Tom | 7 comments »

My wife and I found this old drop leaf table at a local antique fair. I thought it was a nice size for a breakfast nook or a sitting table in the office. I was intrigued because it was obviously quite old and showed signs of being made with hand tools. I don’t know what wood it is made from, maybe just pine. It uses swing arms to support the table leaves and the drawer is nicely dovetailed. I could see gauge marks, hide glue and roughly sawn stock on the underside. T...

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Part 2: Building the Frame

11-26-2019 10:49 PM by Tom | 2 comments »

I am going to remake the old drop leaf table using hand tools that I think are appropriate for the age of the piece. I have not made a table like this before, so this will be a learning experience for me. It will be nice to have the old table as a reference. I decided to use oak boards from the home center. They are kind of pricey, but they are nicely machined and planed, so I can concentrate more on the joinery and less on the bull work of preparing the material. For now, I will just st...

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Part 3: A few details before....

11-27-2019 05:04 PM by Tom | 1 comment »

Before I launch into the next stage of my table build, I thought I would share a few learnings and insights from the mortise and tenon work. Only a few tools I think it is interesting how few hand tools I needed to create the mortise and tenons. Just a few chisels, a crosscut tenon saw and some basic layout tools. The mortise chisel is 5/16” wide, which is a really nice size for tenons with 3/4” boards. It falls right between 1/3 and 1/2 of the board thickness. It is ...

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Part 4: Back to the Table

12-07-2019 02:09 PM by Tom | 2 comments »

Finally getting back to my table project. Work, family, holidays, etc. I think one of my biggest challenges is stepping away from a project and then getting my head back into the process from where I left off. So with the three rails completed with mortise and tenons, I can work on the drawer rails. On the original antique table, the top rail appears to be a bridle joint. I could not tell how the lower joint was constructed, but my guess is a mortise and tenon. I decided to ...

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Part 5: A Few Things before Glue

12-08-2019 10:04 PM by Tom | 1 comment »

With the table joints done, I have a few things to take care of before glue up. I need to taper the legs, cut out for the swing arm and put in the notches for the screws for the top. I did the leg tapers first. They taper down to 1” square. Layout is an important part for me. I really need to stop each time and make sure I am tapering the inside of the legs. Pretty straight forward, I saw and plane the tapers. It is a lot of exercise! When I get near the end of the sawing, I add...

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Part 6: A Pembroke and The Season?

12-24-2019 02:26 PM by Tom | 1 comment »

Well it happened. The season arrived at our house. The cold and flu season along with the holiday season. Work, travel and illness really put a dent into my table build schedule. But it is time for some vacation and the illness has pretty much passed. I have started preparing the table top, but before I get into that, I need to learn how to make a drop leaf rule joint with some old tools. I have never made a rule joint before, and of course I want to do it with hand tools. I need som...

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Part 7: Working the Top

01-05-2020 05:24 PM by Tom | 1 comment »

The holiday season really sucks up the free time, but I have been working the top for the past couple weeks. It’s a fun process, but the rule joint is quite a challenge and a bit time consuming if you do it with hollows and rounds. I can’t really recommend it if you need to make this joint on a regular basis. In the end, I am pretty satisfied with the result. Yes, it could be cleaner and tighter, but it’s fine. I have a few old, antique drop-leaf tables in my home and s...

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Part 8: Winterthur, Hinges and a Quick Drawer

01-06-2020 06:03 PM by Tom | 3 comments »

Really starting to wrap up the work on this drop leaf table. Over the holidays, I visited Winterthur for the Yuletide mansion tour. It is really interesting to see all the furniture on display. Meanwhile, they have a nice gallery display of the Dominy workshop and some furniture pieces on display that were made at the shop. One of the items was a “Breakfast Table” aka Pembroke table. Somehow, I missed a picture of the actual table which was similar to mine, but a bit more ref...

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Part 9: Nails and a Knob

01-07-2020 07:31 PM by Tom | 2 comments »

A few items to finish up. The drawer needs glides to ride on and keep it centered. The original that I based this on had slips of wood that were nailed together in place. So I did the same thing. It was kind of a simple pleasure to use nails for furniture assembly. Screws seem to be the go to option these days. I used Tremont cut fine finish nails and nailed them with the grain to minimize splitting potential. I also used glue. Careful not to nail through the sides! I glued a couple ...

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Part 10: Drawings and Dimensions

01-09-2020 02:52 PM by Tom | 2 comments »

If you are interested in building this table, here are links to my drawings. You can adjust the dimensions to suit your needs. I tried to be careful, but please confirm the dimensions are correct for your project. LEt me know if you have trouble with the links. Good luck!

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Part 11: A Cowardly Finish

01-17-2020 05:51 PM by Tom | 4 comments »

I am pretty wimpy when it comes to finishing my projects. It stems from a total lack of knowledge and experience. In the past, I have used oil based stains, brush on polyurethane, oils, shellac, etc. Some woods do not take oil based stain very well. I did a cabinet in maple which took me a long time to build using my hand tool methods. I tried to stain it to match another piece and it was a blotchy mess. I had to rework the finish for days to get a decent look. Staining poplar has also...

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