7586Re: [MedievalSawdust] Research project...
- Jan 1, 2007First you have to define which kind of trestle table you are looking for. The
same name is used to refer to tables with connected pillar understructure like
the link that was posted in response to your note as well as to refer to the
style best described as a three legged saw horse.
The 13th/14th seems to be more likely to be the 3 legged horse with planks for a
table, while the more traditional style of a connected understructure seems to
be more likely 15th/16th. In addition to those basic styles, there are tables
that are large slabs with four legs, one in each corner. That basic table seems
to have found life almost through all of period.
If we look at the 3 legged trestle, we can further divide the styles by the
arrangement of the three legs. One style, a distinctively later (13/14/15thC)
period style features a tall trapezoidal end board cut to make a pair of legs
attached to a cross bar, often with some form of sliding joint for disassembly,
and a solitary leg square and perpendicular from the far end of the cross bar.
The earlier style three legged trestle will feature three individual legs. Two
attached to the ends of the cross bar, splayed outwards on the same side of the
cross bar with an opposing leg angled out from the center of the cross bar.
The advantage of this style is that they are easier to setup on slightly uneven
ground than a four legged trestle. The other advantage is there are less legs to
interfere with the people using the table. Our camp uses the three separate leg
style trestles at both indoor events as well as camping events. We will block up
the legs with scrap wood to make the tops of the trestles level and and add
additional blocks on top of the cross bars to make the tops parallel with each
For table tops we have used 3 planks of 2x10s, 1/2" 2'x4' plywood, a 2'x4'
plywood solid core hardwood door and for dining, the same trestles have been
used with a 2'x6.5' solid core door. The point is whatever slab we have
available to use, we use depending on whether we plan to be setup for two weeks
or for a few hours. The lesser time periods, we use easier to transport slabs.
If the table is being used as a work bench, we use the 2x10 slabs.
Our legs are simple closet rod tapered with a drawknife and fit into round
tapered holes we made in cedar 4x4x24" long cross bars made using a tapered bit
in a hand brace. Having done it that way, I'd say it would be easier to make the
ends of the legs round using a drawknife or doweling bit in a brace and make a
regular round hole in the cross bars. My original prototype featured a basic
square mortise and even though the prototype was simple 1x3 for the legs and
5/4x3 for the cross bar and the mortise was only 1/2" x1" it still was able to
hold my 340lb (at the time) body up.
The later, more gothic style, end trapezoid style three legged trestle is really
not well suited to outdoor use. The only time we've had a table come down was
that style of trestle as they just tended to slide down the hills at Pennsic and
If you are looking for later styles, the fixed style connected pedestal style
trestle table was done in many ways by many cultures over many years.
James Winkler wrote:
> Ok... so, like, I get this email from a fella' in Calontir who has a need to
> find out some info on trestle tables... with a specific request for
> 13th/14th c. models.
> I have *some* info... mostly from illuminations...
> What I'm asking this list is... if you have any good examples or sources of
> info, could ya' pass em' along? I'd like to be able to give this fella' a
> bit more that the wee bit I've scrapped up in my own library. [Darn... I
> wish those 13th/14th c. folks took better care of their stuff so we had some
> physical examples...]
> Thanks - Chas.
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