Thursday, April 15, 2010

Medieval or Tudor trestle table for kitchen

As I start to accumulate details in the kitchen of the castle, I am more and more dissatisfied with the kitchen table I have.

Quite frankly, it sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.  The colour is too intense, the construction too advanced.  It may be just fine in the William and Mary kitchen, someday, but it's just not right here. Neither are the joint stools ...

This is more what I want -- a trestle table in the same more natural wood finish I'm using for the other wood in this room.  But I like the trestles best in the second photo, the one from Winkhurst. (In fact, I love ALL the things in this photo -- look at the butcher's block!  The scales! The three-legged stools!)

Brian Long, in his book The authentic Tudor and Stuart Dolls House, calls them "comb" trestles.

So I'm going to make my own.

I took a piece of quarter inch thick basswood, 7" x 4" and trimmed a little off the side using a razor saw, so it's now about 7" x 3".

Then I used the offcuts from that, plus a little scrap balsa wood, to make the tops of the trestles and three legs each.  I have this great tool -- the Easy Cutter Ultimate (Ultimate!  Woo!) that makes cutting odd angles very, very simple.  Thank heavens.  Because I suck at geometry.

I cut the six trestle legs using the 105 degree angle guide on the cutter for both the top and the bottom of the legs and trying (and probably failing) to get all the legs exactly the same length :)  I scored the top of the table with my razor saw to suggest planks.

Here I'm attempting to assemble the trestles with glue, using pins to hold the legs in place until the glue dries.  A sturdier way of doing this would be to make tenons at the tops of the legs and insert them into mortises in the tops of the trestles.  Or you could make tiny pegs of toothpicks and use them to make a better joint.  As you can see from the photo above, one of the legs of the trestle on the left is clearly made of balsa, not basswood, because the pin has gone right in!  The other pins I'll trim when the piece has set up.

After the glue set, I sanded everything, carved the edges of the table top a little roughly with an exacto knife, and painted all three pieces with the same weak wash I've been using all day -- lots of water, a little white and a little burnt umber.

I may glue the table together for sturdiness, but for the moment, here's what it looks like in the kitchen.  That's better!


  1. Fascinating! Nina, you are so full of ideas I truly admire!It's good you have the book like that - I can't remember if I ever saw the three(six;)) leg tables....Love the table and I wish I could get the Easy Cutter for myself!:)Will you repaint the stools too?

  2. Your kitchen is looking fab!

    There's an award for you in my blog :)


  3. The table looks really good and fits in perfectly with the rest of the kitchen. Well done!
    Emma x

  4. OM: Long's book is amazing. The more I work on this project the more grateful I am to him for putting all that period detail together. It's definitely my favourite Tudor miniature book.
    I think I'm just going to make brand new stool, little three-legged ones, suitable for servants :)

    Ira: Thanks for the award! Wow!

    Emma: Thanks so much -- I need to dirty it up with some more burnt or raw umber, but it's SUCH an improvement!

    I suppose I should be going at the project more systematically: finishing the interior, THEN decorating, but it seems a little more fun this way for me!

  5. Brilliant! I printed off your tutorial and will attempt one today! Hmmm, I hope I have enough wood! maybe a shopping trip is in order!


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