Introduction

a finished trestle table in a dining area
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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If you're hosting a holiday meal, a big dining table is as much a necessity as extra silverware and a seating chart that doesn't cause a family feud. But a solid-wood table can be a four-figure investment, so we scoured the home store looking for materials to help us build one that wouldn't dry up our gift budget. With the help of This Old House general contractor Tom Silva, we designed a generous trestle table that incorporates some decorative flourishes without breaking the bank. The legs are simply newel posts that were cut to size, stabilized with feet made from corbels that have carved scrollwork details, and connected by a stretcher cut from a length of handrail. Stock lumber and molding finish off the top. Spend a weekend making it and we guarantee you'll get as many compliments on your newest piece of furniture as the food you serve on it.

Shown: 56-inch red oak newel posts, 10½-inch decorative whitewood corbels, and poplar interior stairpart railing; Lowe's.
Paint: Valspar's Deep Earth.
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    Tools List

    • circular saw
      Circular saw
    • miter saw
      Miter saw
    • drill
      Drill/driver fitted with a -inch paddle bit
    • pneumatic finish nailer
      Pneumatic nail gun

    Shopping List

    1. Newel posts Get two for the legs.

    2. ¾-inch birch-veneer plywood Get a 4x8 sheet for the tabletop and leg plates.

    3. 10 ½-inch corbel Get four for the feet.

    4. Handrail Get a 6-foot length for the stretcher.

    5. -inch dowel Get a minimum of two inches to plug the fastener holes for the stretcher.

    6. 1x2 Get an 8-foot length to make the cleats for the underside of the tabletop.

    7. 1x4 Get three 6-foot lengths to make the apron.

    8. 2x4 Get a 6-foot length to make the stringers. 9. ¾-inch quarter-round trim Get three 8-foot lengths to trim the edges of the tabletop.

    10. 6-inch lag screws Get two to attach the stretcher to the legs.

    11. 8-inch lag screws Get eight to attach the feet to the legs.

    12. 3-inch deck screws

    13. 1¼-inch deck screws

    14. 2-inch finishing nails

    15. Wood glue

    16. 120-grit sandpaper

    17. Satin latex paint

    18. Waterborne polyurethane finish