18th Century Folding Campaign Table

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Project by Rev. Jim Paulson posted 12-03-2009 12:17 AM 9023 views 5 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi everyone. Jim here with a finished project. I made this 18th century campaign style table for a friend who works at a historical site in Upstate New York. The table features cherry legs, aprons and decorative trim around the edges of a birch plywood top. Initially, I had planned to make the top out of solid cherry with bread board ends. Birch plywood won out for the top since it offered lighter weight for the design criteria which included the ability to fold it up for transport to revolutionary war re-enactments. I did some research on this through the web and this is my first rendition of one. In the future I’ll probably go with a Sheraton style leg profile instead of the one I show here which comes from a Shaker piece featured in one of Glen Huey’s books. I am still curious about other possible ways of securing hinged leg and apron assemblies too.

I am pleased with the finish I got using antique cherry dye and polyurethane on the top. After the final coat of satin polyurethane, I applied dark brown Briwax and rubbed it out. The aprons and legs were dyed antique cherry, coated with hand rubbed lexington green milk paint and then sealed with hot linseed oil. I have many lessons learned, especially the challenges of making something portable yet rigid enough to use as a table. I used barrel bolts and mounted them tight without any slop and then utilized wooden pins. That meant I had to adjust the positions of glue blocks some they were a bit offset from the leg and apron assemblies. I also wasn’t crazy about the wooden pins, but it yielded a secure attachment of all four legs.

Sorry about the quality of the pictures. I’ll get better on that aspect eventually.


9 comments so far

View F Dudak's profile

F Dudak

342 posts in 4934 days

#1 posted 12-03-2009 12:31 AM

Nice table Jim! Hope all is well with you and yours. Who paints cherry? Have you been making any chairs? I want to see chairs!

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5284 days

#2 posted 12-03-2009 01:03 AM

it’s beautiful!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4797 days

#3 posted 12-03-2009 03:00 AM

Beautiful table.

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 4837 days

#4 posted 12-03-2009 03:12 AM

Not terribly different from those used today, But a lot better made and much, much pleasanter to the eye.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View bake's profile


389 posts in 4801 days

#5 posted 12-03-2009 04:22 AM

This is really great. I have been interested in building some campaign chairs for quite a while. Check out this link.

-- I love the smell of Home Depot in the morning, it smells like.......carpentry. Bake, Bar Lazy U Woodworks, Lehi,UT.

View Rev. Jim Paulson's profile

Rev. Jim Paulson

120 posts in 4400 days

#6 posted 12-03-2009 06:45 AM

Hi all. I really appreciate the compliments. I used cherry because it turns well and in the Mohawk Valley it is easier to come by than say maple. Because cherry also splits pretty well I often use it for chair legs when I’m making Windsor chairs. Thanks Bake for the link you offered too.

Hi Fred. Got a couple of Windsors that I’m working on right now. Probably won’t be posting them until after the first of the year though. I’m making a philly and a nantucket chair for family members. Hope you and the family have a blessed Christmas.

Blessings to all of you in this season of Advent.

Take care,


View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4701 days

#7 posted 12-03-2009 07:03 AM

Very interesting build unique project well done Jim


View Rev. Jim Paulson's profile

Rev. Jim Paulson

120 posts in 4400 days

#8 posted 12-03-2009 07:13 AM

Thanks again Jim for the supportive comment.


View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4315 days

#9 posted 12-03-2009 09:35 AM

Really nice table. I like the way your top came out also. I think the wood pins are fine. But if you are not really happy with that you could probably get a little more extravegant and make wood hinges for the legs and sliding blocks to lock the legs in place. It might be fun to design.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

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