Maple Trestle Table, Session 6 – Making Battens and Installing Countertop Connectors

On the morning of Sunday, April 15th, Morton and I exchanged ideas about trestle tables, spurred on by a recent sketch of a table on which he was working.  That got me yearning to build a trestle table.

I documented my progress live on Twitter which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  Here is a list of the previous Sessions:

Session 1 - Flat Boards are Boring;
Session 2 - Playing with Slabs;
Session 3 - From Two Slabs to One Table Top;
Session 4 - Clamping Odd Shapes and Sketching on Wood; and
Session 5 - Routing Pockets for Battens.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username, being the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are preceded by a @ symbol and are people to whom the author is talking.  The other symbol you see is #, which serves as a category.  I try to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

FlairWoodworks I’m back in the shop and the next step is to find maple for the battens. #flairww -4:30 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I think there might be some maple behind there… #flairww -4:38 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Well, there certainly is, but it’s too thin. It’s only 8/4 (2″ rough) and I need 2″+ surfaced smooth. #flairww -4:40 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks This piece would be perfect but I need it for the legs. #flairww -4:42 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I have a general lack of straight-grained maple. Everything is nicely figured! #flairww -4:42 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I forgot that I have more slabs of this maple. #flairww -4:56 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I also forgot that I need to mow the back lawn… I’ll do that later. #flairww -4:57 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I could really use another pair of saw horses right now. I’ve got 6 in use. #flairww -4:58 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Actually, I think I’ll use this piece. (I just had a mini-landslide.) #flairww -5:03 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Instead of standing lumber on end against walls, I think I might be better to lay them down and walk over them. I’m mostly kidding.#flairww -5:05 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks now that would make a sweet shape for a desk top that is pushed against a wall -5:06 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I think it’s a little narrow. #flairww RT @BCcraftmaster: now that would make a sweet shape for a desk top that is pushed against a wall -5:06 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I was looking around the shop for my goggles. Then I remembered that I wore them to bed last night so they’re on my nightstand. #flairww -5:10 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks seeing these slabs you post are like looking at clouds for me, trying to let the shape dictate its function-5:16 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Fun! #flairww RT @BCcraftmaster: seeing these slabs you post are like looking at clouds for me, trying to let the shape dictate its function-5:16 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I just used my sliding table saw to cut the two battens out of the slab – the first time I’ve used a machine during this build. #flairww -5:30 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Note that I consider the angle grinder, router, and jigsaw power tools but not machines. #flairww -5:30 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

BillGriggs @FlairWoodworks You can never have to many saw horses or clamps. -5:45 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Or friends. #flairww RT @BillGriggs: @FlairWoodworks You can never have to many saw horses or clamps. -5:46 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

BillGriggs RT @FlairWoodworks: Or friends. #flairww RT @BillGriggs:@FlairWoodworks You can never have to many saw horses or clamps. -5:49 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks You bet! #flairww RT @Black_SheepWW: @FlairWoodworks Is this lumber from a local tree? -6:15 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

Black_SheepWW: @FlairWoodworks Is this lumber from a local tree? -6:15 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I cut, surfaced, then milled rabbets on all sides of the battens so that they fit into the pockets. #flairww -6:17 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m using a shoulder plane to slowly widen the rabbets until the battens fit. #flairww -6:20 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks After fitting a part to another, I mark it so I know where it belongs. #flairww -6:26 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Since I’ll soon be planing the surface of the slab, I marked the edge. #flairww -6:27 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

ChrisHasFlair I’m working on a Maple Trestle Table this very minute. Follow along with #flairww Tweeting as @FlairWoodworks -6:28 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Time for a quick tidy up so I’m clearing the tabletop of tools.#flairww -6:34 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m going to try out these countertop connectors to hold the slabs together. #flairww -6:37 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m replacing the stock bolt (top) with my own 1/4-20 bolt. It’s longer and a little beefier. #flairww -6:43 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m going to use this 35mm, carbide tipped bit to drill the holes for the countertop connectors. Great bit. #flairww -6:49 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve drilled the two holes. Now I need to rout a hole between them for the bolt. #flairww -6:56 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve got a 1/4″ bolt. Should I use a 1/4″ router bit or a 5/16″ bit to allow for some clearance? #flairww -6:57 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

MansFineFurn @FlairWoodworks 5/16″-6:59 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I agree. #flairww RT @MansFineFurn@FlairWoodworks 5/16″-7:00 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks My bit is not centred in the guide bushing so I need to not rotate the router as I make the cut. #flairww -7:02 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I could centre the bushing around the bit, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble. #flairww -7:02 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

MansFineFurn @FlairWoodworks nah -7:03 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks 1 out of 1 woodworkers agree with me. #flairww RT@MansFineFurn@FlairWoodworks nah -7:03 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

kring_l Second that “@MansFineFurn@FlairWoodworks 5/16″” -7:03 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

@msnodgrass2: @FlairWoodworks why not something like a big butterfly?-7:15 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m finally set up to rout. #flairww -7:15 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Oh yeah! Two out of two woodworkers agree! #flairww RT@kring_l: Second that “@MansFineFurn@FlairWoodworks 5/16″” -7:16 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I want the table to be able to be taken apart for ease of moving. #flairww RT @msnodgrass2: why not something like a big butterfly?-7:17 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

Tumblewood: I think this will be one if your coolest improv designs yet! -7:20 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I realized that I set up to put the edge, not the centre of the bit on the centreline. I caught it before I started routing. #flairww -7:20 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Thanks, Vic! RT @Tumblewood: I think this will be one if your coolest improv designs yet! #flairww -7:21 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

Tooltutor @FlairWoodworks whew, close one. Good thing u measured twice, even if it was just in your head -7:22 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Always double-check! #flairww RT @Tooltutor:@FlairWoodworks whew, close one. Good thing u measured twice, even if it was just in your head -7:24 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Rather than reset my template, I simply switched guide bushings. I don’t have a guide bushing 5/32″ smaller but… #flairww -7:25 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks …I do have one 1/4″ smaller. The other 1/32″? Remember how my bushing and bit are not concentric? Score one for Chris! #flairww -7:26 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The first connector is installed. #flairww -7:31 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Dinner time! #flairww -7:32 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m back in the shop after dinner and I’ll work on installing the second countertop connector at the other end. #flairww -9:09 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks By the way, these countertop connectors cannot be tightened with an adjustable (Crescent) wrench. #flairww -9:13 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks There is simply not enough clearance to get the wrench on, let alone turn it. #flairww -9:15 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The second connector is installed. I’m going to try to find a wrench in the garage. #flairww -9:32 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I didn’t find the right wrench in the garage but remembered that I had these on the wall of my machine shop. #flairww -9:38 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks It’s a great set of wrenches for a woodworker. They’re all box ends with metric on one end and imperial on the other. #flairww -9:39 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The bolts are tight. They seem to work well, but I’m going to leave the clamps on for now. #flairww -9:42 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks For the battens to work according to my plan, they have to bottom out on the bottom of the routed pocket. #flairww -9:43 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks That means I need to remove some bumps from the surface before installing the battens. Where did I leave my jack plane? #flairww -9:43 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The battens are parallel (with no tuning required!) and will be my reference for flattening the table top. #flairww -10:20 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’d planned on flattening the slab with a router but since it’s almost 11pm, I’m trying something else. #flairww -10:43 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I used a long, straight piece across the battens and a depth stop on a drill bit to drill a grid of holes to the same depth. #flairww -10:44 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Now, I just need to plane until all the drilled holes disappear.#flairww -10:45 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks The brass screw forward of the plane’s mouth prevent the toe from being driven into the blade.  Brilliant. #flairww -10:52 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Anybody want another video of me planing big slabs of maple? ;) #flairww -11:04 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Time to sharpen my low-angle jack plane’s blade. #flairww-11:06 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Back in business. #flairww -11:08 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks When doing a lot of planing, I find it imperative to switch grips. Left-handed, then right-handed. Push, then pull. #flairww -11:10 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks Also, take lots of water (or Twitter) breaks. You’re allowed to take your shirt off too. #flairww -11:11 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I also like the sideways stroke, especially for wide boards or slabs. #flairww -11:12 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks This section is just about there. I’m done working in the shop for the night and going for a cold shower. #flairww -11:28 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

FlairWoodworks I think I took off 1/8″ in thickness. Maybe more. #flairww -11:28 PM Apr 23rd, 2012

Session 7 is next!

9 thoughts on “Maple Trestle Table, Session 6 – Making Battens and Installing Countertop Connectors

    • Hi Michael,

      The holes allowed me to plane away aggressively without constantly checking to see if I’m getting close. Had I used a larger bit, it would have made my job easier as well.

      Chris

    • Hi Serge,

      I have looked at ratcheting wrenches, but I’ve never really seen a need for them. For most of the nut/bolt work I do, I use sockets or an adjustable wrench. Bottom line: I think ratcheting wrenches are nice, but I don’t think I can justify their purchase.

      Chris

  1. Okay Buddy that looks plenty strong can not wait to see this one done ,what are your you doing for finish? flat black ;)

    • Hi Dan,

      Together, the battens and countertop connectors provide lots of strength but I’m not convinced they will keep the seam gap-free. I think that I’ll add floating tenons to reinforce the joint further.

  2. Excellent as always; nice technique for marking a depth for planing especially on such a wide expanse. Usually I bevel the edges to my target thickness, but that absolutely wouldn’t work for you here.

    Also like you wall desk idea for that third slab. Next build?

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