Simply-Made Trestle Table & Benches

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By Scott Phillips with Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

We teamed up with The American Woodshop’s Scott Phillips to create a pleasing table and bench ensemble in an updated Colonial style. As a bonus, we’ve added a deacon’s bench to complement the table in a kitchen setting or serve as a stand-alone piece in a hallway or entry. We’ll start with Scott’s table and a special introduction from the builder and designer himself.

Since the log cabin days, kitchens (more specifically, kitchen tables) have served as the heart of the home. My trestle table follows in the footsteps of its Colonial predecessors. Simple but sturdy, this project is the perfect multi-purpose meeting place for serving meals, doing homework, or sharing conversation. The 34×61" maple top with curved edges comfortably seats six, with three on each side for family gatherings. (For a complementary seating option, see the deacon’s bench on page 29.)

The tusk (or key) tenons used to pull the table and bench together are not only attractive, but functional. Back when space was tight, this knockdown joint enabled furniture to be easily disassembled and stored away, and then quickly reassembled when company arrived. But tusk tenons are useful even if you aren’t planning to store the piece in your closet. This solid joint is a cinch to make, plus it’s easy to install. To tighten the fit, simply give the tusk an extra tap during assembly. If that isn’t enough, trim the tenon’s shoulder, or adjust the angle of the tusk as needed.

To give this table the strength to shrug off everyday use and abuse, the sides attach to the foot and top support with solid mortise-and-tenon joints. But the joinery isn’t as difficult as it looks. As you’ll see, you can employ your drill press or table saw to do most of the mortising for you.

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