Doing it right, the second time

Shortly after writing my last post, I decided that the best way to complete the dining table I was working on was to scrap the old top and begin anew.  But this time there was no skimping.  I went out to Sharples and picked up some nice quarter-sawn red oak and jointed up a new top.  It’s an excellent look and is dead flat.  It’s a job handling long stock.  But my friend and workmate, Les, volunteered his assistance and we had it together in no time.  Thank goodness for friends.

After staining, filling and varnishing the table was ready for delivery to Chicago.  Good weather prevailed and the delivery was made without incident.  With the company boards in place, the table is nine feet long.  It will provide plenty of space for any number of uses.



My Grandson and I conferred about a number of things that I might have done differently.  Although, overall, the project seemed to be to his satisfaction.



On our trip home, it dawned on me that I had overlooked one possibility for handling the design and construction of such a large surfaced table.  I might have built it as a “draw leaf” table.  The draw leaf mechanism is a very old design that is seldom seen these days.  It’s simple but requires a little geometric calculation.  In some cases it will nearly double the amount of top surface area.  I’m not sure where I’d put it, but I may have to build one.  Here’s an example:




Of course the design can be very simple or ornate.  The mechanism is the thing.


jr6041a (1)There are a range of possibilities.

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6 Comments on “Doing it right, the second time”

  1. Sylvain Says:

    “The draw leaf mechanism is a very old design that is seldom seen these days.”
    The “Swedish furniture maker reviled by most woodworkers” has some:

    Click to access bjursta-table-extensible__AA-236887-10_pub.PDF


    • D.B. Laney Says:

      Thanks Sylvain,
      I just visited the site and I must say that the IKEA assembly PDF is one of the best diagrams of the draw leaf mechanism that I’ve seen. Again, thanks for the tip. In the US the most dreaded words that a custom furniture builder can hear from a customer is, “I can buy it from IKEA for this much, can you match that price?”
      Regards, Dennis

  2. Michael Says:

    on your top, how did you line up the boards? I’m thinking of getting the JessEm Mortise Mill to help on my future table top.

    • D.B. Laney Says:

      Hi Michael,
      I’m assuming that you’re referring to the actual top itself. The new top is quarter sawn red oak. As long as the initial rip follows the grain, lining up the rest is very simple. We simply jointed the top and used four biscuits per joint (in 7′) for alignment. As long as the joint is good and square, and you’re careful in your clamping (use a glue with substantial “open” time), there’s no problem. In most cases, I don’t use any dowels or biscuits. But as this was a large top, we decided to use the biscuits. Quarter sawn lumber costs a little more, but, it’s “movement in service” is minimal. In my opinion, it’s well worth the extra cost in the savings of labor required to finish a plain sawn top. Hopefully, that helps. If you need more information, just let me know.
      Regards, Dennis

  3. Daniel Wood Says:


    Recently acquired an English? Barley twisted leg table and 4 chairs. I am trying to identify the manufacturer. The slat back chairs have and raised emblem that (for lack of being able to attach a picture) looks like a carved pumpkin. Any ideas ?

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