Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Threstle table: a quick summer project

We needed a display table for our event of 4 September in Utrecht, so during the summer months I was busy making two trestles for a trestle table. We already had a second hand oak table board of 45 by 200 cm which we could readily use for our trestle table.

Our trestle table with painted trestles and oak board with linseed oil finish.

Medieval trestles (or trestle tables) are found in many variations: decorated or undecorated, with three or four legs, turned, etc. The design we used is based on a medieval stool type. So far, I have not seen a trestle based on this design depicted in a medieval painting or miniature. We used this simple design because we needed our trestles quickly (and I forgot to check if this design existed for trestles ...). They are very easy manufactured and also assembly / disassembly of the parts is very easy.  A further asset is that they can be transported flat. 

I used cheap pine wood from a local DIY store, and only had to saw it to pieces. A scrollsaw was used for the curved parts of the trestle; the rest was sawn by hand. The sides of the trestle are chamfered to approximately 5 mm wide (these were later painted in a contrasting colour). The decoration, i.e. the Gothic circle in the middle, was carved by hand, the holes drilled with a drill press with Forstner bits. Most of the construction time was used for decoration and painting the pieces.

 The undecorated pine trestle table, together with the medieval stool type of the same construction.

Medieval furniture could also be painted, instead of finished with wax or linseed oil. I chose to paint the trestles, because it camouflaged the modern pine planks (smaller pieces glued together). Painting of course was done in the medieval style with egg tempera. Pigments for the egg tempera paint were bought from Paintmill 'de Kat'. Several layers of paint were needed to cover the wood. The table board was scraped clean of old varnish and finished with linseed oil.

One of the trestles is being painted green with egg tempera in the Historic Open Air Museum Eindhoven. 
On the well boarding you can see that the rim of the horizontal beam of our pole lathe is also just finished green.

The three finished parts of the trestle in red, black and green lying on the table board.

The finished trestles provide a relatively stable support for the table board.  A better stability can be obtained by increasing the angle / width of the 'triangular' trestle piece, and also to connect the trestle parts at a slight angle (the side view would then be 'triangular' as well).

Front and back of the painted trestle (left photo) and side view (right photo).

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