Community Drop Leaf Dining Table

I have always loved the idea of building dining tables. In many ways a dining table is the heart of the home. The setting for intimate dinners and large family gatherings. The focal point of Thanksgiving and Christmas and the location of late night discussions. A well designed hand-crafted dining table can compliment and enhance this role, and provide the stage upon which the grand theatre of life unfolds.

This project originated with some 12’ long, wide pine boards that had been milled from the clients property and the need for a large dining table to accommodate many people. Built to reside in a community house, this trestle table was designed to sit in low profile against a wall, ready to be pulled out and utilized for the large gatherings held there.

In my research before starting the design phase of this project, I was unable to find any examples of the form, so it is possible that I may have just invented the “Drop-Leaf Trestle Table”! I’m sure that’s not really true, but I have yet to see another one. It turns out there are some pretty good reasons for that as the engineering was a little challenging but I feel that I was able to achieve a balance of form and function and keep the proportions pleasing to the eye.

My associate Greg Brown and I have spent countless hours arguing, discussing and comparing notes on many subjects as we work next to each other in the shop. One subject of particular interest is finish. After years of experimenting with various finish processes with varying results we have both come to the conclusion that it’s time to stop messing around and develop a “signature” finish. Because I build both formal “high style” pieces such as my Art Deco Console Table, and more informal pieces such as this dining table, I have decided to develop two different finishes to accommodate both styles.

For my informal finish I decided to start with a recipe popularized by New Hampshires own Jere Osgood. His oil based finish is a mixture of linseed oil, turpentine and a good quality spar varnish. It is applied liberally in three coats with a wet sanding between the second and third coats. Because I wanted the top of the dining table to have an extra level of protection, I applied a paste wax with a 4 0000 steel wool and then buffed it to a medium sheen. This left the top silky smooth to the touch. I always feel that the way a piece of furniture feels is as important as how it looks.

Owain Harris

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