A Marriage of Styles Makes for Artful Dining

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Combining some of the best features of Shaker and Country styles, this trestle table will be a delight in any dining room – whether set for a weekday dinner or a holiday feast.

When my wife and I were ready for a new dining table, we knew we wanted something that would seat six comfortably and allow space for a sideboard and cupboard in our modest dining room. We liked the beautiful proportions of Shaker trestle tables but wanted to incorporate ornamental turning and scrollwork frowned upon by Shaker religious doctrine. In spite of our admiration of Shaker furniture, some Country Style fanciness was exactly what our dining room needed.

Trestle tables have certain construction characteristics that should be considered. One of the best features of a trestle table is that there are no table skirts to pinch your fingers when you pull an armchair up to the table. However, because the top isn’t pulled flat against four table skirts, it needs additional structural support to prevent cupping. This support can take the form of cleats or breadboard ends. The top is narrow compared to four-legged tables to minimize stress on the leg-to-main-beam joint, but the side-to-side space allowed for each person is a comfortable 30". 

In a small shop, I believe the most efficient work is accomplished using a combination of power and hand tools. As an instructor, I emphasize hand-tool methods partly because these are the methods most in danger of being forgotten, but also because they’re often the most efficient choice for the average woodworking hobbyist. I encourage dedicated power tool users to try some of the hand tool methods described here. You may be impressed by your increased efficiency and accuracy, and pleasantly surprised by the added enjoyment. 

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