Sunday, July 26, 2015

Table Progress - Part IX

The table is finally nearing completion. On the third of August the clients will be coming by to make a final approval of everything before I do the finishing. There are still a few loose ends, such as the iron bits that are not all finished, but here is the next to last post on the topic. The next time this table is featured will be when it is ready for delivery. This week we will go into detail about the table leaves and the slide mechanism, as well as a bit of discussion on draw-top tables in general.

One of these days it will actually be finished

I had some pictures of how I made the structural members for the apron, but they were lost when my memory card gave out. Once the supporting sections were completed I began working out the slide mechanism. On a draw top table, the principle is that the slides run under the top and are connected to the leaves. These guide rails are generally long enough that the weight of the top is able to support the the leaf. One drawback to that method is that if someone presses to hard on the extended leaf it will lift up the main section of the top.

When I was a kid we had a huge draw-top dining table and I remember a couple of unpleasant accidents caused by someone attempting to push themselves up from their chair by pressing down on the extended leaf. Not a pretty picture. To prevent this from happening, and because my guide rails are not long enough anyway, I will be using an iron cross-tie  which will prevent the leaves from being pressed down. In this series of photographs that has not been installed yet, however.

Setting out the slot for the guide rails

Cutting said slots

One down...the other three are already gone

The slots in which the guide rails will run also serve as a track for the rails to run in, therefore they had to be cut precisely.

Of course the ends of the guide rails cannot just be square

Cutting out a decorative end

In a situation like this, it is much faster to make a couple of straight down cuts and then use a chisel to finish up the shaping.

And of course they cannot be without a little extra ornament made
with a carving gouge as well

Trimming the ends of the leaves

I opted to use straight timber which had some curve to the grain and cut the curve in the stock, as opposed to bending these short segments. As it turned out, I should have used one piece, steam bent it, and then cut it into segments as needed. It was a bit of a challenge to get the inside curves to meet up without a gap. I did manage, but I think it would have been much faster with bent timber. I deliberately left the end wide so that I could place the finished leaves under the top and trace the outline. Once it had been traced, I cut the waste material off and planed the edge smooth. (I used a spokeshave for the inside curves.)

When you cut from one direction and then turn around and come back to
the place where you stopped you will be able to see if your cut is
running square 

Using a cabinet scraper to do the final smoothing

I love cabinet scrapers, and have no idea why anyone would want to sand instead. In addition to getting a nicer surface, the scraper is one hand tool that actually takes less time than the a machine. It took me less than a minute to get this little pile of fluffy shavings, but to remove the same material with a sander would take at least 20 minutes; not to mention that one would have to change grit 3 or 4 times.

Guide rails in guide ways

The table; ready to receive the main section of the top
The contraption on the end is to prevent the leaf from falling. 

It looks good; it feels good to be at this point as well

Top with leaves extended

One of the things I like to do with draw top tables is to put a little bead moulding between the two sections of the top. This helps to disguise the line between the lower and upper parts. The way I do it is to make the top thicker than the leaves, and then use a scratch stock to add the bead to the bottom edge. The lower leaf is the thickness of the top, less the bead. In order for the table to have a uniform surface when the leaves are extended, however, spacers must be added between the leaves and the guide rails. In this picture, I have not yet put the spacers, thus the leaves are currently lower than the top.

I had hoped to install this iron brace today, but spent the whole day getting the leaves and guides set up. I lost count of how many times I took the top off and then put it back on, but it was many.

One of the two braces which a blacksmith and I made this past week at his
little forge. That was a lot of fun, so much so that I did not get any pictures.
I got to play at being a blacksmith myself.


  1. It is nice to see the table near completion. The leave extension must have taken quite some engineering to make to make it work smoothly. I can't wait to see the iron work on the table and the first coat of finish.

  2. I'm always impressed by your work Johann but this time I am amazed! Great job and I can't wait to see the finished table.

  3. I'm always impressed by your work Johann but this time I am amazed! Great job and I can't wait to see the finished table.