Chris Schwarz's Blog

Modern Gateleg Table – Free on the Website

The cover story for the October 2017 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine – a Swedish gateleg table – can be read and downloaded for free here. No catch. No gimmicks. No registration. Just click it and read it.

I built this gateleg table earlier this year and based my version on dozens of examples I dug up from the historical record. From looking at the table, you might think that the “historical record” was an IKEA catalog delivered to my house. You would be wrong.

This surprisingly contemporary form has been around since (at least) the 18th century. It is robust, featuring drawbored mortise-and-tenon joinery. It is inexpensive to build; the painted poplar base is about $60 in material. And it offers a table that can seat a single couple in a breakfast nook or eight people during a dinner party.

This table went to a customer in Colorado, and my wife was not happy to see it go.

Check out all the details here.

— Christopher Schwarz

7 thoughts on “Modern Gateleg Table – Free on the Website

  1. TomBr

    I like the look of this table. However, having used several gate legged and drop leaf tables, I suspect that it is very difficult to seat more than two people at it, and it even looks as though they would be sitting diagonally at opposite ends to keep out of the way of the gate legs and the center section. Any thoughts about this??

    Tom

  2. JasonS

    I have a question regarding finishing tenons, and/or bread board ends. How should one smooth this sort of joint? My issue is with the 90 degree grain directions in adjacent panels. I can’t find a clean way to get both parts of the joint smooth. Do I need to resort to sand paper?

    I’ve looked online and in all the resource books I have and no one seems to address this. Thanks for any insights anyone might be able to provide.

    Jason

  3. Bernard Naish

    At the risk of being banned for ever from LAP and Popular Woodworking I would like to say this – please hear me out as it may give you some ideas.

    IKEA do indeed make several versions of similar tables. I have one that I am sitting at right now It is adequate in many ways though I wish I had made it myself.

    http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/tables/dining-tables/norden-gateleg-table-birch-art-10290221/

    You will straight away notice the six storage drawers they have added. Other than the front these are made from plywood using KD devices. They could be made from real wood using real cabinet making techniques and I have no doubt they would then last longer as well as feeling much smoother and solid in use, They could also be made in bigger widths so could be added to CS’s design.

    My family has an eighteenth century version with an oval top (once its fully opened). It has the runners for two drawers one each at the top of each end of the middle bit – much like the IKEA version. These drawers are missing and I would dearly like to make replacement versions. I would make them from matching wood and echo the drawer building methods of the time. See Haywards book “Period Furniture Designs” if you wish to see the difference from todays usual methods. I am in two minds about finishing them so they match the rest! I suspect I will finish the front panels to match and simply shellac the rest of the drawer so that it is obvious.

    1. Andy Jones

      The Ikea drawer bottoms on my daughter’s gate leg table were not even plywood, they were hardboard. The fasteners for assembling the drawers (a plastic, barbed, and headed dowel) were not really “KD” either, since they were not designed to allow disassembly (or at least not reassembly after disassembly). However, their plastic heads did provide low friction contact points for the drawers to make them easier, quieter and smoother sliding.

      As a woodworker of limited experience and ability, I could still see how the design could easily be modified with better (or maybe just “nicer”) materials, and conventional fastening/joinery methods, for woodworkers of even modest ability.

      But Ikea is not in the business of providing fine examples of woodworking, just relatively inexpensive, practical furniture that can be shipped, stocked and sold in compact form, to be assembled by the customer with minimal knowledge, tools or experience.

      It is interesting that you have an example of an older gate leg table with facilities for two drawers (one per side/end). Are there any historical examples of traditional gate leg tables with a stack of drawers on each side/end of the center section?

  4. Andy Jones

    When I was a kid, my grandmother had an old gateleg table (folded and used as a side table) in the bedroom I often stayed in. It had 8 turned legs, two of which formed the pivots for the two gates, and the swinging legs were notched to half-lap neatly with the stretcher. It also had semi-circular leaves with rule joints. I was always fascinated by the basic design premise of that table.

    My daughter recently purchased one of the Ikea versions. I really like their idea of drawers in the center section for storage. It looks like your design could reasonably accommodate the same feature.

  5. Spear Builders

    I have been looking for a nice walk-through for a Gateleg table for awhile for a custom home we are building in Charlottesville, Virginia! Thank you so much, Chris! I cannot wait to get in the wood shop and start marking & mortising. We are doing it as a surprise for our customer’s kitchen.

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