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Design a Trestle Table: Crafting a Stylish and Functional Piece of Furniture

CEO Khai Intela
Are you looking to add a touch of elegance and versatility to your living space? Consider designing and building your own trestle table. With this timeless furniture piece, you have the freedom to choose your...


Are you looking to add a touch of elegance and versatility to your living space? Consider designing and building your own trestle table. With this timeless furniture piece, you have the freedom to choose your own style and technique, whether you prefer something simple, advanced, or somewhere in-between.

A Brief History of Trestle Tables

The term "trestle" originally referred to a pair of legs that diverged and were joined at their upper ends, often with hinges. These legs were wide enough to be self-supporting. By adding a wide board on top, a table was formed. This design allowed for easy folding and transportation.

Trestle tables have a rich history dating back six hundred years in Europe. During that time, only the wealthy owned valuable furniture and moved it from one castle to another. Portability was crucial, and large, immobile tables were not practical. Nowadays, while times may be more secure, many people still favor easily disassembled and transported tables due to their transient lifestyles.

Modern Trestle Tables: A Blend of Sophistication and Practicality

Today, the term "trestle table" typically implies a more sophisticated design than the original version. It commonly describes a table supported by two pieces connected by a horizontal beam or stretcher. This base assembly, often secured by wedged mortises, provides stability and support for the tabletop.

In this article, we will explore two different trestle table designs. The first design is small and basic, suitable for a side or entry table. The second design is larger and more advanced, perfect for a dining table or even a desk with the addition of drawers. Feel free to mix and match the two designs to create a table that suits your unique needs.

Adaptable Designs for Every Space

The beauty of the trestle table lies in its adaptability. Whether you need a small table for a cozy corner or a large one for entertaining guests, all you truly need are two uprights, a stretcher, and a tabletop. The uprights must be tall enough to support the tabletop at the desired height and broad enough at the base to provide stability. At the top, they should offer a secure connection for the tabletop.

If you wish to retain the knock-down functionality of a true trestle table, consider using a removable stretcher. However, fixed stretchers, as described in the first example, are also common and provide excellent stability.

Building from the Top Down

When constructing your trestle table, it's advisable to start from the top and work your way down. The tabletop can be made from a single board or several pieces glued together with edge joints. To add a touch of visual interest, you can create gently curved ends that echo the shape of the foot part of the uprights. By using 11⁄4" thick material, you can bevel the lower edge of the top to leave a 3⁄4" thick face, giving the table a lighter look.

April_2013_Cover Caption: The April 2013 issue featuring the trestle table design

Remember, designing and building your own trestle table allows you to unleash your creativity and tailor the piece to your specific preferences. For inspiration and step-by-step instructions, you can watch Graham Blackburn's video magazine, "Woodworking in Action," or explore Christopher Schwarz's guide on building an American Trestle Table.

So why settle for mass-produced furniture when you can create a stunning and functional centerpiece for your home? Start designing your dream trestle table today and bring your vision to life.

Graham Blackburn is an experienced furniture designer and woodworker. He has published numerous articles and contributed to woodworking magazines. He is also known for his video magazine, "Woodworking in Action." The original article was published in the April 2013 issue (#203) of [Publication Name].