Building a table with history

In the video “Building A Large Trestle Table and Benches,” Matt from MWA Woodworks walks through the process of creating a trestle table with benches.

He starts by describing the design aesthetic he’s aiming for: a combination of white-painted surfaces and natural wood elements.

For painted wood projects, Matt prefers hard maple due to its durability and smooth, paintable surface.

Matt begins by breaking down eight-quarter boards into rough blanks from which he will cut the parts for the project.

Although he usually doesn’t opt for S3S (surfaced on three sides) lumber due to cost, he does so in this case, acknowledging the time savings it provides. He uses a miter saw to break down the material, noting that a jigsaw could also work for those without access to a miter saw.

Next, Matt rips the boards to slightly oversized dimensions at the table saw. He then glues these pieces into larger blanks, which will become the parts for the trestle-style legs of the table and the bench seats.

He shares a tip for gluing multiple parts using one set of clamps, ensuring only the desired joints are glued together. After gluing, he cleans off the excess glue and lets it set overnight.

The following day, Matt runs the glued panels through the jointer and planer to ensure flatness and then trims them to their final dimensions.

He shapes the parts based on his trestle base design, cutting angles and curves into the blanks.

He introduces the L-fence, a secret weapon for making angled cuts safely and efficiently. Matt provides a detailed explanation of using the L-fence with a guide for precision cuts.

After shaping the trestle base, Matt uses a CNC machine to make a template for the curves. He mentions that for those without a CNC, a template can be printed, glued to the part, and then sanded to the lines using a spindle sander.

For joinery, Matt decides on dominoes, though traditional mortise and tenons are also respectable options.

He drills slots for attaching the base to the top, allowing for seasonal wood movement. The breadboard ends are then added with special consideration to allow for this wood movement.

After gluing the dominoes into place and adding dowels to secure the breadboard ends, Matt trims the dowels flush and rounds over the edges of the parts.

He then does a dry fit to check for any mistakes before moving on to painting, which he doesn’t show in the video.

The next phase involves the tabletop, where Matt steps out of his comfort zone to work with reclaimed material. He gets heart pine from old barns and processes it into a usable form.

Matt meticulously arranges the boards, rips edges for glue joints, and uses a metal detector to check for hidden nails.

The reclaimed lumber is glued up to create the tabletop, and Matt uses a belt sander to even out the joints.

He trims the ends with a track saw and sands the surface to reveal the unique character of the boards. The breadboard ends are attached, accounting for wood movement.

Finally, Matt finishes assembling the trestle bases and attaching them to the tabletops and bench tops. He secures the bases with flange head bolts and marvels at the completed project, which he hopes his family will enjoy for years to come.

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