How to Make a Sixteen Foot Trestle Table - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-29-2019, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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How to Make a Sixteen Foot Trestle Table

Our client had a very large family, entertained guests often and had just built a substantial sized home for himself… so he wanted a custom made dining table that was 16 feet long by 48” wide. He wanted it made from oak and be well aged in appearance.
I had built a number of large trestle tables before but nothing of this size. I had to calculate the table top’s weight to see how difficult it would be to manipulate in our shop. At 2” thick it was already approaching 900 lbs which would stop my son & I from even turning the table top over (safely). So… I designed it such that the outside edge boards and the bread board ends would be over 2” thick and the great majority of it’s center area would be only 1.25” thick. This would make the top alone weigh aprox. 600 lbs, which made it do-able, if not easy to handle.



I found a company in Maine that specialized in creating very large table pedestals. I only wanted to use two (not three) pedestals in case his floor was not perfectly flat (and it looked better that way).



Once I had the outside edge machined to 2.25” thick and the inside to 1.25”, we aligned them all and dry clamped to see what we had.



The bread board ends are boards that cap each end of the long table top. They run 90 degrees to all the other boards, hide the end grain there and help keep the surface flat. They are attached by means of a tongue (left protruding from the long boards) and a groove cut into the bread board in which the tongue will insert….. and they are kept in place by dowel pins. The two holes at the end of each tongue are elongated so that all the long, center boards can expand and contract along their width (from changes in humidity) without being held ridged by the dowel pins. You’ll notice that I made the ‘tongue and groove’ hidden by stopping it short of both ends by an inch or so.





We fastened the pedestals to the table’s bottom with a bolt that is half wood thread (place in the table top’s bottom) and half machine thread (for wings nuts and washers) to go through an enlarged hole in the pedestals support spreader. We found the best positions for the legs by placing the top on the pedestals (somewhere between a quarter and a third of the way in from each end) until the top was dead straight (no sag).



Now we were ready for the finishing process. They had selected an aged look from samples that we made. The table top and legs were gouged, filed and torched …before they were stained and top coated.
It was very hard to get a picture of the finished table in their home that showed the entire table AND what the final color looked like… so I have two shots here.





Russell Hudson / Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc.

http://www.hudsoncabinetmaking.com/
"Courage is knowing what not to fear"~Plato
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-30-2019, 05:15 PM
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Thanks for this post. I just met this morning with customers who want a 11' x 5' walnut trestle table, with a 2" thick top. The top is going to be the challenge, of course, due to the weight. I have been contemplating how to work with this, and you have given me some ideas, thanks. It looks really good!
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-30-2019, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mmwood_1 View Post
Thanks for this post. I just met this morning with customers who want a 11' x 5' walnut trestle table, with a 2" thick top. The top is going to be the challenge, of course, due to the weight. I have been contemplating how to work with this, and you have given me some ideas, thanks. It looks really good!
So this piece I wrote should give you some info / I would do the same 'thicker on the outside edges and thinner in the center' logic for it's weight. I normally build the pedestals but your design really dictates all your subsequent 'how to' decisions. I would use a means of joining the planks for the top / biscuit jointer, domino jointer, spline joints, dowels.... something to keep this large, heavy table top to remain like a single piece of wood.... almost forever. As you're doing it, send me questions if you need to. happy to help.

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post #4 of 12 Old 08-31-2019, 08:48 AM
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as usual Russell, you knocked it out of the park !!
thank you for taking the time to share your craftsmanship.

.

.
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post #5 of 12 Old 09-07-2019, 12:53 AM
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Magnificent!

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post #6 of 12 Old 09-07-2019, 10:41 PM
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I come up with around 300 lbs for the top at around 10% moisture content.
16' X 12" / ft = 192 so to get cubic inches we multiply Length x width X height
192 (L) X 48 (W) X 1,25 H = 11,520 Cu Inches There are 1728 Cu. In per Cu. fy
Divide 11520 (Total Cu. In) by 1728 (Cu. Inch in a cubic Ft) and we get 6.7 cu. Feet of table top - more or less
A Cu. ft of red oak weighs around 45 lbs at 10 -12% moisture content.

So we multiply 45 lbs per Cu Ft by 6.7 Cu Feet and we get around 300 lbs. Since the outer edge is a little thicker lets add another 25 lbs being generous. This is at about 10 - 12% moisture content which is probably a little more than actual.

So anyway, i fig around 325 lbs for the top.

BTW, the table is totally AWESOME!
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Last edited by Tony B; 09-07-2019 at 10:45 PM.
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post #7 of 12 Old 09-08-2019, 12:57 AM
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[QUOTE=Tony B;2069627]I come up with around 300 lbs for the top at around 10% moisture content.
/QUOTE]
Yeah, I don't know where he came up with his weight calcs, I'd gotten the same as you did. Unless he was using the green weight, which could be up to around 75 pounds/cubic foot.

Last edited by mmwood_1; 09-08-2019 at 01:02 AM.
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post #8 of 12 Old 09-08-2019, 10:15 AM
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I know about the "sagulator" for calculating sag on a shelf. But is there anything available for calculating the overhang on a table. Seems like most of us can go by gut feeling, but again, is there anything available for making this calculation?
This is not about leaning on one end of the table and making it tip. Obviously, no one alive is going t do that on this table. Question is about potential overhang sag.

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post #9 of 12 Old 09-08-2019, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
I know about the "sagulator" for calculating sag on a shelf. But is there anything available for calculating the overhang on a table. Seems like most of us can go by gut feeling, but again, is there anything available for making this calculation?
This is not about leaning on one end of the table and making it tip. Obviously, no one alive is going t do that on this table. Question is about potential overhang sag.
I spent a while calculating where the two pedestals should go / in the end, we placed them where the least sag over-all existed using a laser / if memory serves, it was a bit over an eighth (which was virtually non existent)

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post #10 of 12 Old 09-08-2019, 07:26 PM
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I am looking at the table in the room with all the windows. The placement of the legs is aesthetically pleasing.
Never thought of using a LASER.
Thanks for the quick reply.
Like I said earlier - TOTALLY AWESOME.

Anyway, the way it is just sitting there with the windows all around, I visualize a bunch of monks breaking bread and drinking wine.

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post #11 of 12 Old 09-08-2019, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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I don't have my weight calculations on my computer so I'll look in my folder / like to see where I got those numbers I'm remembering and I don't mind being corrected, gentlemen / I remember looking of the species weight per volume on line / I'm starting to think you're right

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post #12 of 12 Old 09-08-2019, 10:46 PM
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It's not that big of a deal and if I were the customer and saw that table, I wouldn't care what it weighed.
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