Shaker-Style Dining Table

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Tackle the mortise work with a simple shop-made jig.

Overall Dimensions: 35"w × 72"l × 291⁄2"h

Trestle tables are one of the oldest and most popular furniture designs for many solid reasons. Homeowners love how a trestle table’s clean lines complement almost any interior décor and appreciate the way the I-beam base provides more leg room for diners than traditional four-legged tables with aprons. Woodworkers gravitate to the design for more practical reasons. Compared to other designs, trestle tables are simple to build and make surprisingly efficient use of material. In addition, the top can be removed, enabling this large project to be easily shuttled from the workshop to the dining room.

My table is solidly rooted in eighteenth-century Shaker design, but I made a few changes to suit a modern woodshop. Most noteworthy is my use of loose tenons to attach the breadboard ends and to assemble the table’s base. With help from a plunge router equipped with a spiral bit and my multipurpose mortising jig, you can quickly and accurately make the needed joints while bypassing more time-consuming traditional methods.

Despite its airy appearance, this table is built to last, so take your time when selecting stock and pay close attention to symmetry and grain flow when laying out parts. Odds are good that your kids will pass this table down to your grandkids.

Builder’s note: To avoid the hassles that come from mid-construction wood movement, mill all stock to rough dimensions (about 1-2" longer and 1 ⁄2"wider) prior to working on each subassembly. Mill and assemble each subsection before moving to the next.

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