Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 4, Issue 4
   March 2010
   Making a Trestle Table

Completed trestle table
The completed trestle table.

Like most woodworkers, I had some lumber I was saving for the perfect project, some large planks of 8/4 angelique — a heavy, dense South-American hardwood similar to teak but without the oil. Apparently, it was reclaimed off an old barge that sat in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, for almost 80 years. A friend and fellow wooden-boat builder acquired it and gave me two precious boards.

After a couple of years, I finally decided to use it to make a trestle table. I used 5/4 mahogany for the tabletop to provide a nice reddish contrast to the darker browns of the base.

The Base

  Cleaning up the tenon cheeks
  Cleaning up the tenon cheeks.
I first milled up the base pieces, referring to a well-executed cut list. I rough cut to length and then jointed and planed until I had all of the pieces showing six square sides. Next, I laid out the tenons on the two legs and the beam. Using a sharp marking gauge, I scribed a crisp, deep cut around the perimeters to register a saw line and help prevent any hardwood splintering while the crosscuts were being made. While sawing, I made sure to stay on the waste side of the scribe lines. I then carefully cleaned up the shoulders and cheeks. You can use either a chisel or shoulder plane. I used both, and found the angelique to be quite a bit harder than anticipated.

After attaching a chamfering guide (a planing aid that helps you cut perfectly formed chamfers repeatedly) to the long-grain edges of the pieces, I used my low-angle block plane to remove the saw lines from the wide cheeks on the tenons. I replaced the standard plane blade with one that had a 50º bevel that was perfectly suited for this difficult wood.
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