a VERY large trestle table - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 03-05-2018, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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a VERY large trestle table

I've built a dozen trestle tables over the years but never anything as large as this and my main concern is making this 16 ft by 4 ft top from solid red oak becvause it will weigh SO MUCH!!!. He wants a thick table (2.5") and at 44 lbs per cublic foot, I end up with a top that weighs 586 lbs. Almost impossible to work with unless you have cranes in your shop. I was thinking that I could make the outside edge 2.5" and all the rest of the top (of the interior section) I'd make at 1.25" thick. / this brings the weight down to 338lbs.... which is, at least, possible to manipulate (turn over, etc. I'm looking for EXPERIENCED woodworkers to tell me if they think that my design (to make it lighter) will still be strong enough for this 16X4 size.I'll thank you guys in advance. I think it will be fine but I'd love to hear what others think.....
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post #2 of 19 Old 03-05-2018, 05:45 PM
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Since you will be making breadboard ends, I suggest one more 2.5” board in the center.
This will allow you to affix the breadboard ends at 3 points (two ends and center).
The 1 1/4” boards could be laid into the rabbeted edges of the 2.5” boards.
As you build your breadboarded frame, you will only be lifting 5 boards. (2 ends, 2 edges and center runner. Then lay in your 1 1/4” glued up panel boards to complete.
Make it where the top can be removed from the three trestles to move. You will need furniture dollies to move it.
Eager to see a picture when you get er done.

Is this for a Conference table or just for a large dining room?

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #3 of 19 Old 03-05-2018, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Hudson View Post
I've built a dozen trestle tables over the years but never anything as large as this and my main concern is making this 16 ft by 4 ft top from solid red oak becvause it will weigh SO MUCH!!!. He wants a thick table (2.5") and at 44 lbs per cublic foot, I end up with a top that weighs 586 lbs. Almost impossible to work with unless you have cranes in your shop. I was thinking that I could make the outside edge 2.5" and all the rest of the top (of the interior section) I'd make at 1.25" thick. / this brings the weight down to 338lbs.... which is, at least, possible to manipulate (turn over, etc. I'm looking for EXPERIENCED woodworkers to tell me if they think that my design (to make it lighter) will still be strong enough for this 16X4 size.I'll thank you guys in advance. I think it will be fine but I'd love to hear what others think.....

LOL...Russell, what the heck, go big or go home....Yes I understand the workability in the shop....I seen one do a large top as that with a jig similar to a autoframe turner...BUT NOTE...with it being wood you use it to turn it over BUT it HAS to be sit back down on correctly spaced pedestal or it will warp.

#2 the span I think will be off for 2 piers in trestle. I by rule of my thumb just split the length in half then spread to a better balance...BUT 4', 8',4' won't work for 2 reasons I usually change out to closer as 3', 10', 3' balance BUT 10" a little pushing it...the 3' is just a counter balance reaction and should hold for many years that thick and wide @ 2 1/2". IF I added a third I'd 2'6", 5'6", 5'6", 2'6". IF customer is firm on 2, 3 under stretchers/braces lengthwise between pedestals for support.

You know the game here.....PICTURES!!!!
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post #4 of 19 Old 03-06-2018, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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It's for a VERY large dining room / the house is larger than a castle / he wants only 2 pedestals / he wants only red oak / and I WANT to do this puppy so...... I'm gonna jump in / & yes... you can be sure I'll post what happened

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post #5 of 19 Old 03-06-2018, 12:24 PM
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Consider a center support

A 10 ft free span will likely sag over time. I would use either one or two center supports which will prevent sagging and will hardly be visible:
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post #6 of 19 Old 03-06-2018, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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A 10 ft free span will likely sag over time. I would use either one or two center supports which will prevent sagging and will hardly be visible:
even with the edges being 2.5" thick by 3" wide, times two (one each side)? / can't imagine that it would sag / and, of course, I can go 3.5' from both ends and leave a span of 9'
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post #7 of 19 Old 03-06-2018, 02:16 PM
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I don't know if it will or if it won't ...

Quote:
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even with the edges being 2.5" thick by 3" wide, times two (one each side)? / can't imagine that it would sag / and, of course, I can go 3.5' from both ends and leave a span of 9'
If you build this behemoth without a center support with hopes that it won't sag, and then it does... then what? If you build the center support in at the jump, you can shim it as needed and you will have the insurance factor. ..... just planning ahead here.
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post #8 of 19 Old 03-06-2018, 03:10 PM
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Well Russell, I've seen lots of beautiful work from you over the years, so I'm looking forward to seeing your solution and final product
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post #9 of 19 Old 03-06-2018, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Hudson View Post
I've built a dozen trestle tables over the years but never anything as large as this and my main concern is making this 16 ft by 4 ft top from solid red oak becvause it will weigh SO MUCH!!!. He wants a thick table (2.5") and at 44 lbs per cublic foot, I end up with a top that weighs 586 lbs. Almost impossible to work with unless you have cranes in your shop. I was thinking that I could make the outside edge 2.5" and all the rest of the top (of the interior section) I'd make at 1.25" thick. / this brings the weight down to 338lbs.... which is, at least, possible to manipulate (turn over, etc. I'm looking for EXPERIENCED woodworkers to tell me if they think that my design (to make it lighter) will still be strong enough for this 16X4 size.I'll thank you guys in advance. I think it will be fine but I'd love to hear what others think...

It's for a VERY large dining room / the house is larger than a castle / he wants only 2 pedestals / he wants only red oak / and I WANT to do this puppy so...... I'm gonna jump in / & yes... you can be sure I'll post what happened
Hello Russell,

First let me share how awesome I think it is you are going after a more traditional build for one of these Harvest tables size wise at least...At minimum I look forward to following along and seeing your results.

Here is a link to a Pinterest Board that covers Harvest Tables that I share with clients when they are thinking of having one of these wonderful tables designed and built.

I can share that the first of these I saw pulled together in a fine and rapid fashion was during my first Barn raising with Old Order Amish back in the 70's. That table was over 20' long, so your size seems more than plausible without worry of sag. Today too many of these are being "re-invented" by folks not actually considering the history and traditions of construction behind why and how these large working tables came to exist. For one, they where never intended to be glued together in any fashion at all, which also helps address the weight issue of transport, as only the member individually have to be moved. They were only jointed together in the same fashion as the timber frames that they often lived inside. Both also where made of green wood...another subject grossly neglected in today's woodworking, and very poorly understood. I would also suggest that most of this concerns with "how bread board" ends are applied, and worries about sag, just aren't germane in the original designs.

At any rate, I look forward to following along on your project.

Regards,

j
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post #10 of 19 Old 03-06-2018, 10:25 PM
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Just spit-balling, but could you take the center support beam, cut a dado 3/4's of the way through, maybe 1/2" wide, and insert a piece of aluminum, 1/2" thick by X" tall by XX" long, and use 3/4" oak pegs instead of carriage bolts and use some good epoxy to hold it all in place. The aluminum wouldn't be visible and it is more stable and stronger than the oak, yet east to work with.....just trying something outside of the box.

Fire proof suit on...let the flaming begin :-)

Mike
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post #11 of 19 Old 03-07-2018, 08:16 AM
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personally I think your 1 1/4" and 2 1/2" edges make perfect sense, along with the center support between the trestles like in bills picture. I would run the center support all the way to the ends of the table, tapering near the end so it isn't seen. you could dance on it.


that wide of a table will pose an issue with breadboard ends I fear, mc will be important.


looking forward to the pics....

Last edited by TimPa; 03-07-2018 at 08:19 AM.
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post #12 of 19 Old 03-07-2018, 02:02 PM
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personally I think your 1 1/4" and 2 1/2" edges make perfect sense, along with the center support between the trestles like in bills picture. I would run the center support all the way to the ends of the table, tapering near the end so it isn't seen. you could dance on it.


that wide of a table will pose an issue with breadboard ends I fear, mc will be important.


looking forward to the pics....
He will do do the “Happy Dance” when he completes, delivers and gets paid for the big monster!

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #13 of 19 Old 03-07-2018, 11:58 PM
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I am a woodworking novice, so forgive me if these thoughts are dumb or obvious:

1. Can this table be designed in a modular way, so that individual modules can be handled more easily in the workshop? The modules would be assembled later, either at the workshop, or better yet, at the delivery site.

2. Have you thought about how you plan to deliver and install the table? Do you have access to a large delivery vehicle? More important, are you absolutely sure that the table parts can be delivered through the doors of the site and through whatever passages or rooms lead to the room where the table will go? Will it fit??
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post #14 of 19 Old 03-08-2018, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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personally I think your 1 1/4" and 2 1/2" edges make perfect sense, along with the center support between the trestles like in bills picture. I would run the center support all the way to the ends of the table, tapering near the end so it isn't seen. you could dance on it.


that wide of a table will pose an issue with breadboard ends I fear, mc will be important.


looking forward to the pics....
breadboard ends should NEVER be affixed without a means for the center planks to expand & contract (across the grain) from summer to winter, over & over again (enlongated dowel holes at each
end / a round hole for the center dowel
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post #15 of 19 Old 03-08-2018, 08:24 AM
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breadboard ends should NEVER be affixed without a means for the center planks to expand & contract (across the grain) from summer to winter, over & over again (enlongated dowel holes at each
end / a round hole for the center dowel
I agree, that was exactly my implication. the e&c can and will leave the breadboard ends proud or short of the table edge, exaggerated by a 4' width. I never liked a proud bb end - they are a clothing catch risk in my opinion.


will be looking forward to your masterpiece! please post pics....
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post #16 of 19 Old 03-08-2018, 08:36 AM
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I agree, that was exactly my implication. the e&c can and will leave the breadboard ends proud or short of the table edge, exaggerated by a 4' width. I never liked a proud bb end - they are a clothing catch risk in my opinion...will be looking forward to your masterpiece! please post pics....
If many (most?) historically created harvest tables had no adhesive/glues in them, only joinery, and normally built from green or hardly seasoned lumber, how is it MC has grown such a critical concern in today's woodworking parlance's?

BB do sit proud in traditional tables often, yet many do not, as the standard was to trim them after a few seasons when completed, as the owner then new precisely the season variances to the specific table...

How did our wood culture shift so dramatically? Even the dimensional elements now are so undersized and diminutive; is more than style and a factor of cost also that has shifted the means, methods and materials?
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post #17 of 19 Old 03-08-2018, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay C. White Cloud View Post
If many (most?) historically created harvest tables had no adhesive/glues in them, only joinery, and normally built from green or hardly seasoned lumber, how is it MC has grown such a critical concern in today's woodworking parlance's?

BB do sit proud in traditional tables often, yet many do not, as the standard was to trim them after a few seasons when completed, as the owner then new precisely the season variances to the specific table...

How did our wood culture shift so dramatically? Even the dimensional elements now are so undersized and diminutive; is more than style and a factor of cost also that has shifted the means, methods and materials?


Jay, I see a few things being the reason......

1) LACK of KNOWLEDGE of the wood, the craft, the joinery, etc., etc.

2) In history we probably didn't have as much RH/MC changes from woods to mill to drying to shop to the final destination (NOT talking about wood MC but LOCAL RH)...DUE to the wood hardly ever left it's original birth place within a few miles. It was cut down, milled, dried, built and used in the same general RH area.....yes a few left the area BUT most were still at HOME birthplace of the tree. They used things they had locally

3) Now a days. EVEN as controlling as we think we are, MOST don't keep their storage, shop NOR final destination in or near the same RH/MC. The wood is cut down at point A, travel 100's miles to mill, travel again to wholesaler, again to retailer, again to a shop, again to a store, again to final destination, OOoooppsss after a few years I don't want it and it moves again.

I do have a question/answer to the BB ends......I've seen over the many years a few BB's that where they meet the table edge they were slightly chamfered/beveled edge at the joint that stands and receeds proud. It helped with the looks as it wasn't a sharp edge/corner when they were different. Is this historical or someone just addressing the problem allowing for bigger MC/RH swings and no sharp/square corner/edge protruding???

NEXT....IF the final destination's MC is at a constant maintain.......why not control the wood MC through all the build at the same (provided it's not a high one) I keep my wood storage, shop at/near 9-10% MC or 40-45% RH.
Controlling this keeps later questions/problems of original MC out of the equation...same as joinery.

Food for thought!!!
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post #18 of 19 Old 03-08-2018, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay C. White Cloud View Post
If many (most?) historically created harvest tables had no adhesive/glues in them, only joinery, and normally built from green or hardly seasoned lumber, how is it MC has grown such a critical concern in today's woodworking parlance's?

BB do sit proud in traditional tables often, yet many do not, as the standard was to trim them after a few seasons when completed, as the owner then new precisely the season variances to the specific table...

How did our wood culture shift so dramatically? Even the dimensional elements now are so undersized and diminutive; is more than style and a factor of cost also that has shifted the means, methods and materials?
the first time I encountered a breadboard project I sold, and later seen it about 1/4" proud on both sides - I was embarrassed. although WE know the why's and why not's, the customer or anyone else seeing this "mis-aligned or poorly done" joinery doesn't know why. I am anal about things like that. actually I am anal about most things....


I think that our new/super woodworking equipment has allowed us to become so precise with our joinery (with less talent than hand tools) that the mis-alignment that unfolds as the e&c occurs goes against our desire for perfection.
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post #19 of 19 Old 03-08-2018, 02:40 PM
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the first time I encountered a breadboard project I sold, and later seen it about 1/4" proud on both sides - I was embarrassed. although WE know the why's and why not's, the customer or anyone else seeing this "mis-aligned or poorly done" joinery doesn't know why. I am anal about things like that. actually I am anal about most things...I think that our new/super woodworking equipment has allowed us to become so precise with our joinery (with less talent than hand tools) that the mis-alignment that unfolds as the e&c occurs goes against our desire for perfection.
I agree...yet I also think this speaks to many of the fundamental flaws in understanding that exists today in what most call "woodworking" and I can't help but look at as "wood machining."

My clients either "self educate" or are front loaded with clear expectations on care and understanding in what the will...and should...see happen with their piece of furniture, timber frame, or other wood item. In this case BB move...and should.

Perfection is a state of mind...not existence. We are responsible as facilitators, craftspeople and artisan to offer clear and honest expectations for a piece and how it will behave. Too often I see unrealistic psychologies trying to override material (aka wood in this case) realities...
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