Small Trestle Table Design

I have been asked to make a communion table that is small enough to be transported around various rooms of our church.

Looking for a style, my first thought was to look at fine artworks to see how they depicted the table of the Last Supper, but they all have a table cloth covering the table and at best guess, the tables are planks of wood resting on sawhorse-like trestle bases. It makes sense that they would be modular so they could be stored out of the way. But maybe this is more a reflection of renaissance furniture than that of 33AD?

I like the idea of a more traditional shaker-style trestle table because it is ubiquitously regarded as a family dining table, has humility rather than grandeur and, practically, is light weight.

The dimensions of a typical trestle table is 6 feet long by 2 feet deep (29 inches high), but I will simply make a half-length version.

For portability, I have two ideas:

  1. Have knock-down joinery so it can be dismantled and re-assembled. A shaker design is ideal for this given the wedged stretcher and legs screwed (or sliding dovetailed) to the top.
  2. Have the table on casters. Wheels would look a little weird under a Shaker table, raising the feet off the floor. Perhaps the wheels could be removable and used only for transportation?

My final design is based around the ideas presented by Tony Konovaloff in Fine Woodworking 106 (1994). He uses sliding dovetails used to attach the legs to the top. I will vary from the design in some minor ways:

  1. I will use breadboard ends. Mainly for aesthetics because the sliding dovetail assembly does the job of keeping the top flat. Walnut dowels will be used to contrast subtly with the mahogany used for the rest of the table.
  2. I’ll use draw-bored tenons rather than using wedges. This is so I can continue the theme of walnut dowels on the legs.
  3. My stretcher is only 1 inch thick, and the through tenon will be a tad thinner. A vertical wedge might be tricky in such thin material, so I’ll opt for one or two horizontal ones for each joint.

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