Virtual table #2: Mt. St. Mich Trestle Table

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Blog entry by scottb posted 09-24-2007 06:27 AM 2306 reads 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Desperately seeking inspiration! Part 2 of Virtual table series no next part

Not far south of my ancestral homeland (one of them anyhow, as Americans tend to be from lots of places) on the French side of the English Channel – near the Blanchard Straights in fact, you’ll find Mont Saint Michel, a tidal penninsula on the Breton/Norman border.

Constructed under, as well as commissioned by ancestors of mine (the Dukes of Normandy – future kings of England – and their forefathers, I feel a connection to the island, turned tidal penninsula, turned architectural wonder.

I’m not able to imagine the sheer numbers of cousins 28 to 30 times removed that may also share this ancestral link, however, my connection comes moreso from having visited twice. Once in college, where I had one of the simplest, but best meals in my life, and years later with my future wife. We both wound our way up the cobbled streets to the top admiring the sites, and blissfully ignorant of the fact that my camera was broken.

When this contest was announced, I knew I wanted to use something that I felt a connection to, and thought of various sites I’d visited across France, but thought that the medieval architecture would be too “chunky” to translate into a usable (and moveable) table.

When I saw pictures of the cloisters, my mind started working, and I did some doodles. Althought I quickly decided that this would be too complex to work out in SketchUp, It would make a good plan B. I never came up with a plan A, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Using this photo as my basis for inspiration:

I could envision using the arches, almost verbatim, perhaps adding inlaid or carved details from the Norman Flag, the crest for Mt St Michel with its fleur-de-lys and oysters, and perhaps a representaion of the Archangel Michel slaying the Dragon/Devil as depicted on the top of the cathedral spire.

Through mostly trial and error, lots and lots of both, I managed to get some good curved shapes – I’d watched a few videos and felt confident, but why didn’t I try a nice linear design for my first attempt at learning new software? I also did the typical guy thing and didn’t bothering with more turorials.

I started working out the leg design first, and the closer I got the the actual shape of the columns and archways, the less I liked the look and weight of what I was going for… but since one of my strongest skills is to simplify things, I took a few steps back and started playing with things until they looked right. Generally going with a less is more approach.

I also wanted to do something that could be loosely described as Arts and Crafts inspired – to better fit in my 120 year old farmhouse, if I ever decided to make it. I’d read that the Oak is the oldest and largest tree in France – one more nod to both geography and the arts and crafts notion. The finish would likely be a medium brown finish, preferably quartersawn, though the slightly raised panels on the legs may be left natural, or stained but plainsawn.

As far as construction details go, I used this table from Woodworking Magazine, as blogged about by Christopher Schwarz last summer.

I liked using this table as a launching point to know what I’d need to do structurally, to keep the table from racking and without the need for a lower rail. I also liked “beefing” up their design a bit, without getting clunky. However the addition of breadboard ends (which weren’t on the model table, so I suppose are optional) I don’t know if those make the center support unneccessary. So here is a cleaner look at the table, without that center support:

or this could be morphed into bench seating for the table.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

14 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4703 days

#1 posted 09-24-2007 06:40 AM

Very nice Scott. I could see this one being built.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Buckskin's profile


486 posts in 4594 days

#2 posted 09-24-2007 07:43 AM

I can see it as well as table and benches for seating. Clean, yet elegant table. Great job!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4767 days

#3 posted 09-24-2007 12:32 PM

that’s quite the story! How exciting.
Perfect choice for this challenge.

Wonderful table.. very “clean” look. Well done.

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

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4568 days

#4 posted 09-24-2007 01:28 PM

Looks good, Scott.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View 's profile

593 posts in 4578 days

#5 posted 09-24-2007 02:43 PM

Very nice design Scott. I still don’t know for sure whether I like it best with or without the center support but I guess I’d vote for keeping it. The only thing that worries me is the lateral stability with such narrow feet… maybe is the image’s perspective playing on me?

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4933 days

#6 posted 09-24-2007 03:56 PM

Thanks All,

Jojo do you mean side to side, (long ways) or stability across the short dimension. Mark sent me a PM suggesting the same thing. If I were to make this I’d see how it looked with wider legs, is there a minumum thickness they should be as well?

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4913 days

#7 posted 09-24-2007 04:03 PM

Nice clean design. It would really go with any style house. Good job.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4692 days

#8 posted 09-24-2007 07:01 PM

Great table Scott. I think I like it better without the center support.

-- Bob

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4767 days

#9 posted 09-24-2007 07:27 PM

and I like it better “with”.. but then I’m usually the odd man out.

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

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4853 days

#10 posted 09-24-2007 08:30 PM

Beautiful pictures Scott, good design, beautiful table. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14182 posts in 4589 days

#11 posted 09-25-2007 01:01 AM

good job scott ! great entry !

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Karson's profile


35209 posts in 5007 days

#12 posted 09-25-2007 03:38 AM

Great entry Scott. A nice table.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View 's profile

593 posts in 4578 days

#13 posted 09-26-2007 06:50 PM

Scott I meant lateral as in the short axis/dimension.

I DO love the design of the legs as is but then, as a rule of thumb, they shouldn’t be more than a few inches inward than the actual dimensions of the tabletop. A very few inches.

Think of it in physical terms as a lever: You put some weight close to the long edge (like a three or four dishes full of Thanksgiving “light” turkey, maybe) plus the downwards pressure of the arms of the corresponding well feed family members, and you have enough momentum for tipping it all over. I don’t know whether I made myself more clear or you lost me along the way, I realize I might sound confusing but it’s late at night and I should be in the fton already. Shhht, don’t tell my wife!

And it’s a shame that we all have to oblige by physical rules because that design is superb!

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4563 days

#14 posted 10-04-2007 12:35 AM

Nice work! Great design and excellent model. Elegant and uncomplicated, with gracefull curves and hint of gothic influence!


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