I was commissioned to build a Farmhouse Trestle Table using walnut timber milled by her grandfather on the family farm back in the late 1960s or early 70s. The wood was stored in a barn. Over the years the wood had been picked through. What remained was fair but useable. Not a piece was straight or free from knots, cracks, splits, and wormholes but it was doable in my opinion. Hey, that’s why it’s called woodworking and thinking outside the box!
Most of the wood was 1″ thick rough-sawn. By the time it is planed smooth and flattened it wouldn’t have left enough thickness for a tabletop much less lend itself to a trestle table since there would be too much flex in the top. The material was simply too thin. So, since nothing was straight or flat, thus a laminated strip build was in order. The target was a 1-1/2″ thick table top measuring 42″ x 84″.
After cleaning the boards they were cut straight and then run through the planer, afterward, they were cut into 2-1/4″ wide strips. The thickness was determined by how good the board looked after all the original saw marks were gone. No two were alike.
A clamp press was constructed using 3/8″ thick structural aluminum angles to aid in the glue-up in order to create straight slabs.
The 38 walnut strips were then oriented with the best edge up and glued together in four 11″ slabs that were 90″ long.
Each slab was then flattened with a hand plane prior to running them through the power planer to a uniform thickness, then joined together with dowels and glue.
The same lamination process was used to construct the two leg assemblies.
After each process was completed the now (newly visible) cracks, blemishes, and knots were stabilized with dyed epoxy resin then planed flush. The following is the result of a lot of hand planning and hours of sanding and is what the tabletop looked like after ONLY the first coat of Danish oil finish. The end result was a solid top 1-7/8″ thick.
The following are pics of the “finished” table under shop lights:
The following are pics in natural light:
The pictures don’t do the wood justice. It’s much more beautiful in person. The walnut is simply gorgeous. 8 coats of danish oil was applied for a super smooth satin finish, yet the grain still tactile. Topped with 2 coats of Briwax, then buffed. All by hand, of course.
The table will last forever. It weighs about 275 pounds.
… and YES, she was thrilled and tears flowed when she saw it. Here are some pics in her home near Charlotte, NC (pics courtesy of her hubby):
Thanks for looking. Feel free to leave a comment.