Tavern tables were among the earliest types developed in this country and were very common before the Revolutionary War. The few to be found today are highly prized by their owners. They were made with round, oval, or square tops and varied from the size of this one to a length of 4 ft. or more.
Reproductions are popular because a table of this type blends well with almost any style of modern furniture (Fig. 1). We see them used as side tables and radio tables and for holding smoking sets; in fact, everywhere in the home.
This table 1 is made of maple, except for the one-piece top, which is pine. It has Been a lot of hard use and has been painted a number of times. At present it is finished in its natural color and has two coats of white shellac and one coat of wax - a most beautiful finish.
Fig. 2. - Measured drawings of a genuine Colonial tavern table: side and front views, the framework, halt plan of the top, and details of the legs, joints, and stretchers.
Because screws were unknown when this table was made, the joints are reinforced with wooden pins or dowels. Even the top is held down with pegs; and no metal is to be found in its construction.
A copy can be made of almost any kind of wood, and the finish is entirely a matter of choice. To make the legs requires the use of a lathe, but if you have none, you can have the legs made by a local wood turner or cabinetmaker.
To get the best results in turning the legs, it may be advisable first to lay out the shape full size on paper (Fig. 2). Two sections of each leg are left square. Sandpaper the turned work in the lathe as smooth as possible.
The stretchers at the bottom and the rails under the top are mortised and tenoned into the legs. The stretchers are as thick as the legs, but the rails are only 7/8 in. thick. However, all the rails, are flush with the outside of the table legs, as shown in the top view.
To find the correct angle in cutting the rails and stretchers, lay out a full size drawing of the end and side views of the table. Don't forget to allow about ¾ in. for the tenons on each end.
After all your joints are made, glue the end frames together. Wipe off the surplus glue and put the frames aside until the glue hardens. In the meantime you can work on the table top.
1 Larger drawings are contained in Popular Science Monthly Blueprint No. l105 listed in the Appendix.
All dimensions are in inches. The top on the original table is pine. The other stock is maple. Each dowel is about ¼ in. in diameter, and the ends of the pegs are almost square.
No doubt you will have to use two or more pieces for the top; a board 19 ¾ in. wide isn't always available. Three 7-in. boards are suggested, as this will allow enough extra stock to be planed down to the finished measurements.
An easy way to lay out the oval shape is to cut out a heavy paper pattern 9% in. wide and 13 3/16 in. long. Rule this paper off into 2-in. squares, starting from the lower right-hand corner. Now refer to the crosslines shown on the drawing and point off your outline on the paper pattern. Connect the pencil points with an easy, graceful curve and cut the design with a pair of shears.
Place your pattern on the table top, which should measure exactly 19% by 26% in. Have the pattern touch one end and one side and mark the outline. Repeat this on the other three corners. You are now ready to remove the extra wood and spokeshave down to the line. The upper edge of the top should be rounded over and sandpapered.
Glue the end frames, the 12-in. side rails, and the 14 ½-in. stretchers together. Proceed as before and test your work with a steel square to be sure the frame is true.
The top can be fastened down with angle irons on the underside or pegged into place as in the original table. Whether you dowel all your joints and the top depends upon how closely you wish to copy the original table.
As the legs do not stand in a vertical position, each one will have to be filed or sawed a little at the bottom. A coarse wood rasp will serve very well, and a level bench, table, or floor will do to test the work on.
Fig. 3. - A chest as well proportioned and decorative as this is worthy of display in any room, particularly one with Colonial furnishings.
The finish depends upon the kind of wood from which the table is made. If you select mahogany, walnut, or gum-wood, an oil stain, filler, and varnish may be used. Colored enamels or brushing lacquers will also give good results.