Meet Your Challengers with a Travel Mate

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By Ralph Bagnall

Dating back to the British Empire, this clever traveling game table for chess (or checkers) folds into a trumpet-sized case — ideal for trips to the jungle or anywhere.

I’ve always enjoyed those safari scenes in old Tarzan movies — porters pitching tents to the beat of distant drums, parrots squawking in the trees overhead, while servants set out furniture on the edge of the sun-baked veldt. That last part really intrigued me … until I came across “British Campaign Furniture: Elegance Under Canvas 1740-1914,” by Nicholas A. Brawler. This fascinating book documents the history of knockdown furniture in use by the British army and Crown colonists around the world at the apex of the empire. Included are such celebrated artisans as Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton. 

In among the folding chairs, sofa beds and campaign desks, I found a gem of a project — a traveling game table for chess (or checkers) that folds into a trumpet-sized case for jungle jaunts. This clever little table offers some interesting challenges for the woodworker and a chance to try out new techniques such as a multifaceted column, some pivoting feet, lots of hardware and even a little brasswork. The table breaks into three sections for storage, which happen to be logical subassemblies for construction, too. The tabletop and apron fold in half to become the case, the pedestal leg telescopes into itself, and the feet unscrew from the pedestal and fold away.

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