Re: [medievalsawdust] X-chairs Cheap!!
- Tim Bray wrote:
>One of my oldest friends spends half of his time these days taking
> >I guess that depends on your market. I made one for myself from 1x2
> >red oak trim and a few hours in the shop. I don't remember the price,
> >but it wasn't anywhere near $100.
> Oh, yes, materials cost would be nowhere near $100. But I'm trying to make
> a living here, so the labor isn't free. I doubt I could make one
> start-to-finish, at the level of finish and detail that I'm happy with,
> fast enough to sell it for $100 and still make a living wage. (I'm
> guessing the people who assemble these are making substantially less than
> USA minimum wage...)
furniture orders (and NC furniture jobs) to China. Used to go to
Argentina. There is no doubt in my mind that they are probably
being made overseas having made furniture for a living as a
former shop foreman.
Retail is usually double wholesale, which hopefully is double labor cost
and materials. Or it was when I did it. Around 1980 one of my 7 hour
products usually went for about $400+ retail. We had about thirty six
designs I frequently worked up. Some took as long as five days.
Having made the jigs to set up that particular stool I could probably
do three a day if I had to or possibly more with a thickness sander
or more modern self feeding equipment.
I was not including finishing in my production estimate for an
ordinary shop. A shop I sub-contracted parts for once made oak
furniture for ship deck chairs and they simply dipped everything in
boiled linseed oil and let it drip over a welded steel sheet tank
If you were to go back in the Medieval Encampments list you
would find a post by me on how to do tenons very quickly by
hand on a tablesaw. I did hundreds per day once by hand.
You could also go the easier route and make the seats out of doweling
for the parts other than the seats though. I have seen that done.
A Drill Press, some drill & forstner bits, glue, and a bunch of 1x2"s
cut to length and tapered where they hit the other leg struts.
Of course if you did use dowels for the seat too you would get that
lovely grill embossed look. I wonder what it does for cellulite?
I mean if you can see panty lines - what's that got to look like? ;)
The hard part is all the tenons and -mortises- which modern
computer assisted machinery makes somewhat simple. At that point you
only need machine operators and sanders/finishers which is where most
labor is these days with one or two skilled machine set-up men in
the U.S.A. at least. Finishing can be done, and is, on roller
platform lines with up to thirty separate people doing specialised parts
of it. If you are not doing high-end custom work you cannot compete
with factory work. Chinese mainland labor is 1/8th of Taiwan's.
Some of their products though are quite nice. For example I bought
a fine hardwood (mahogany or something very similar) trestle table
and matching trestle seats for about $450 two years ago at a
World Market when they were on sale. I don't think I could buy
the materials for much less than that here. No particle board anywhere
and virtually flawless. Fingerjointed but very hard to see under
the uniform finish. Not one knot in it. I think it came from Malaysia.
The only happy converse of all this may be that some hardwoods may
decrease or stabilize in cost as the demand lessens, although a whole
lot of our hardwoods are shipped overseas now.
For those who may never have heard of such things there are actual
factory ships at sea for long times producing plywood which is then
sent back to our markets made out of our trees.
These are similar to the whaling ships/fishing ship canneries
where everything is done off shore. Usually Japanese, but I
imagine they have competition now. My source for this was Woodshop
News I think a few years back.
This is one reason why veneer is so thin on much of the hardwood
plywood you see these days. It used to be about 1/40" thick but
is thinning. I've seen some you could see the under-layers or glue
through. You really have to be picky and do minimal sanding on this
stuff. Some of it I have used had the lovedly scent of dog doo when
you cut it too. I don't know what that is exactly they used. I hated
it on the rare stuff we bought I encountered it on.
If you rub three spread fingers over a sheet you can usually detect
voids by ear or feel. Before you buy the clunker. I've sent whole
shipments, or a good percentage of them right back to the suppliers.
Reputation is everything. Especially when your average job runs into
thousands of dollars.
Incidentally, before you get caught in this one - most plywood
suppliers guarantee squareness on only three corners. Mathematically
it doesn't make sense, but sheets being out of square quite a lot
are quite common. If you are doing cabinetry and you let one of
these things into your cabinet in a central location - you're screwed
trying to fix it after the fact. Use a square and compare measurements
to oblique corners. I think you will be very surprised.
Oversize sheets are not unknown either. This is a good reason to have
a table saw that will cut half way through lengthwise [48"+].
It's generally best to have your pieces cut between a fence and
blade whenever possible. The most accurate tablesaws to have are
-outside- or left tilting blades, if you are right handed. The
reason is with a blade that tilts - towards the fence - any rise
in the material while it is being cut is deducted from your piece.
With a left tilt blade you can always press a bit harder down to
make it lie flat with the table and true up the edge with a follow
It also helps to have a good straight edge you can rout a square
corner to begin with if you find yourself very much out of square.
For myself I have long had two aluminum extrusions of about 4 and
10 feet, and I have a set of tile setter's straight edges as well
I can clamp on and rout to. There is a company called Joint-a-bility
that sells these jigs as an alternative to jointing huge boards.
It simply is a legged jig that clamps a straight edge down on top
of your board and you use a router to run a straight edge or an
angled one if you have the bits. Woodshop News generally sells them.
- If you were to go back in the Medieval Encampments
list you would find a post by me on how to do tenons
very quickly by hand on a tablesaw. I did hundreds per
day once by hand.
Medieval Encapments list? Where? How?
and ( just in case I't something I haven't
thought of ) how do 'you' do tenons on the
I've done it a couple of differnt ways,
I'm curious how you do it....
Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
Aude Aliquid Dignum
' Dare Something Worthy '
Do you Yahoo!?
The New Yahoo! Search - Faster. Easier. Bingo.
>Medieval Encapments list? Where? How?I was sure you were on it! It's only one of the best lists around!
>Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
> Aude Aliquid Dignum
> ' Dare Something Worthy '
Lord Aodhfin Seibert
- Good evening, folks!
That would be the Medieval Encampments Yahoo group - founded by Dame Mira
Silverlock (of Medieval Pavilion Resources fame) and now run by me - Sasha
(Mykola Shlahetka). Here's some pertinent info for the group:
Post message: MedievalEncampments@yahoogroups.com
Shortcut URL to this page:
We're nearly 900 souls (and growing daily) - some of the worthies on *this*
list also play over at mine (hi Magnus, hi Colin!). The focus is on
improving the camp aesthetic (whatever that means for you) furniture,
pavilions, packing strategies, weatherproofing, et cetera....
Stop on by!
Owner - Crescent Horde Tent Company - specializing in non-Mongol yurtas
----- Original Message -----
From: Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart <baronconal@...>
Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2003 1:47 PM
Subject: Re: [medievalsawdust] X-chairs Cheap!!
> If you were to go back in the Medieval Encampments
> list you would find a post by me on how to do tenons
> very quickly by hand on a tablesaw. I did hundreds per
> day once by hand.
> two questions...
> Medieval Encapments list? Where? How?
> and ( just in case I't something I haven't
> thought of ) how do 'you' do tenons on the
> table saw.
> I've done it a couple of differnt ways,
> I'm curious how you do it....
> Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
> Aude Aliquid Dignum
> ' Dare Something Worthy '
> Do you Yahoo!?
> The New Yahoo! Search - Faster. Easier. Bingo.
> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
- Hello Colin,
I want to start by saying your web page has fantastic wood furniture.
I've made a few knockdown trestle tables using slots and datos but
they get loose quickly and wobble. I believe you have a picture on
your webpage of a trestle where the cross piece is aligned up and
down and your pin passes through side to side. Last night I was
working on this wobble problem and cut a mortise for the pin to go
top to bottom. The way it holds over a larger area of the leg and
seems sturdier than the cross pin. The other thing I did was cut the
pin's mortise at an angel to match the pins angle. This gave a
larger area of contact inside the mortise and the leg stopped
wobbling. The material I'm using is 7/8" maple. The cross piece is
5" wide and the tenon is 3" wide x 4" long. I didn't cut a shoulder
for the tenon because I felt the material is too thin. Once the
mortise was cut in the leg, I then cut a 1/4" mortise in the tenon
from top to bottom. Having the mortise go straight through and using
an wedge shaped pin meant that only one small spot of the pin was
contacting the instide of the mortise. I then took out more material
to make the mortise angled and I recut my pin to match the angle and
keep it short enough to stay below the tabletop when in place. Now I
have a lot of contact in the mortise which puts pressure on the top
and bottom of the tennon. This removed most of the wobble. There is
still a little side to side wiggle, but I will probably glue small
blocks jsut below the base of the tenon to act as shoulders and that
should reduce that movement.
I'll try to post some pics on my webpage this evening.
http://www.dwarvenaxe.com The link will be in the Woodworks
section. Assuming this test works successfully, I'll be fixing or
replacing my existing trestles to this design.
If someone else tries this or sees an obvious issue this this design,
please let me know.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Tim Bray <tbray@m...> wrote:
> >Who has made the 'sawhorse' style trestle tables?
> I have made some, in a knockdown style.
> >What angles and sizes did you find worked best?
> >Did you make 3 or 4 legged trestles?
> Mine are tripods. Both the front and back legs are angled, at
about 4 degrees.
> >I made a prototype legs from scrap plywood
> >( 3 legged )
> >and didn't like the way it came out.
> I'm not completely satisfied with mine, either. They look nice and
> well... up to a point. A couple of customers think they are too
> wobbly. This comes of making them knockdown.
> I don't think most of the medieval versions were made to come
> of them look like they have pretty thick legs, permanently joined
> horizontal support. This would be a lot sturdier, but almost
> pack for travel.
> I'm still trying to solve this problem: how to make trestles that
> sturdy and stable, but can be taken apart and packed flat.
> >( My wife found out that
> >only the poor didn't cover up their tables
> >with table clothes
> Yes, which makes documentation of these things extremely
difficult. 90% of
> the time, the trestles are hidden by the tablecloth. (Simliar
> beds, btw.) I do have a few details from paintings and
> I'll try throwing them onto a Web page so we can all discuss them.
> Albion Works
> Furniture and Accessories
> For the Medievalist!
>I want to start by saying your web page has fantastic wood furniture.Thanks! Compliments are always nice, and those from other woodworkers are
>I've made a few knockdown trestle tables using slots and datos butYes.
>they get loose quickly and wobble.
> I believe you have a picture onThat's the way my tripod trestles were made.
>your webpage of a trestle where the cross piece is aligned up and
>down and your pin passes through side to side.
> Last night I wasYes, that's the way I make the bed rail-to-post joint. See the "beds" page
>working on this wobble problem and cut a mortise for the pin to go
>top to bottom. The way it holds over a larger area of the leg and
>seems sturdier than the cross pin. The other thing I did was cut the
>pin's mortise at an angel to match the pins angle. This gave a
>larger area of contact inside the mortise and the leg stopped
for a photo.
>The material I'm using is 7/8" maple. The cross piece isThis is actually very close to the dimensions of the bed-rail joint! The
>5" wide and the tenon is 3" wide x 4" long.
rails are about 7/8 thick, a little over 5" wide, the tenons are 3" wide,
and the posts are made from 8/4 stock so they are about 1-3/4" thick.
>I didn't cut a shoulder(I think you mean you didn't cut _cheeks_; there are 1" shoulders on either
>for the tenon because I felt the material is too thin.
side of the tenon, right?) And it turns out to be unnecessary, I
think. With 7/8 wide stock the shoulders are sufficient, especially with
the power of that long wedge.
Basically what you describe is a very traditional way of making 'trestle
tables.' I've made them that way myself and it is definitely the best. I
think the vertically-wedged tenon is the strongest and best knockdown joint
However... the question is how to use that joint on the 'sawhorse' trestles
that we were originally discussing. (Apparently there is a terminology
problem; what we call a 'trestle table' does not use 'sawhorse trestles.' )
The problem I'm having with my tripod trestles isn't vertical wobbling,
it's side-to-side wobbling. Using a vertical wedge instead of a horizontal
pin might improve that a little; but I suspect a big part of my problem is
that the front pieces are only 1/2" thick, which means there isn't much
bearing surface between the tenon and the mortise. I'd like to rotate the
top stretcher, so it is flat/horizontal (which is the way the medieval ones
seem to have been done), but then there's no room for knockdown
joinery. (Maybe I need to post a photo showing the detail of this joint?)
What I think I need to do is make the front as an A-shape (two legs with a
horizontal stretcher) out of 6/4 stock so there is more depth to the
mortise, and maybe use 6/4 for the top stretcher as well so I can put wider
shoulders on the tenon. But all this drives the cost way up, and the
weight, too. I don't think I'd sell many of them.
Thanks for discussing this. Any more ideas?
Furniture and Accessories
For the Medievalist!
- Hello Colin,
More thoughts on period style trestle tables...
>Basically what you describe is a very traditional way of making 'trestleI agree.
>tables.' I've made them that way myself and it is definitely the best. I
>think the vertically-wedged tenon is the strongest and best knockdown joint
>However... the question is how to use that joint on the 'sawhorse' trestlesI've been calling the "sawhorse trestle" a period tressle and the commonly
>that we were originally discussing. (Apparently there is a terminology
>problem; what we call a 'trestle table' does not use 'sawhorse trestles.' )
trestle a standard trestle. I made a standard trestle out of 4/4 hickory
and use it
as a work table. It is heavy and very sturdy. If there is a better name
for the two
types of trestle tables, I'd like to know so I can call it by it's proper
>The problem I'm having with my tripod trestles isn't vertical wobbling,I've seen drawings and illuminations with the horizontal stretcher but
>it's side-to-side wobbling. Using a vertical wedge instead of a horizontal
>pin might improve that a little; but I suspect a big part of my problem is
>that the front pieces are only 1/2" thick, which means there isn't much
>bearing surface between the tenon and the mortise. I'd like to rotate the
>top stretcher, so it is flat/horizontal (which is the way the medieval ones
>seem to have been done), but then there's no room for knockdown joinery.
>(Maybe I need to post a photo showing the detail of this joint?)
see a way to make it break down and be sturdy. Maybe if the legs had a
and went into a mortise in the horizontal stretcher, but no way to secure it
with a pin.
>What I think I need to do is make the front as an A-shape (two legs with aFor the front leg, I have tried using a triangle with the legs going up the
>horizontal stretcher) out of 6/4 stock so there is more depth to the
>mortise, and maybe use 6/4 for the top stretcher as well so I can put wider
>shoulders on the tenon. But all this drives the cost way up, and the
>weight, too. I don't think I'd sell many of them.
and meeting at the top. I wasn't using a mortis/tenon joint but it would
worked well. Now I'm cutting a 15 degree angle on both parts of the leg for
a 30 degree spread. I don't make the top a point. I cut it back so the top
flat and about 2 " wide. I've used 30 degrees a few times and it seems
Stefan von Kiel
Dwarven Axe Armoury
----Original Message Follows----
From: Tim Bray <tbray@...>
Subject: Re: [medievalsawdust] Re: 'sawhorse' trestle tables
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 13:09:53 -0700
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